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Cheapskate Reds must rethink transfer policy and sign big to fill Gerrard void

Liverpool's PR department emailed a link to Steven Gerrard's valedictory interview late on Saturday, but it was nothing the club should have wanted to promote.

The last link to a glorious past has gone: that is the most unsettling part. Though it is no slight on Raheem Sterling to say that he was too busy cycling his bike around north London to watch one of Gerrard's most legendary feats against Olympiakos a decade ago - he was only 10 at the time - the anecdote only goes to show that Anfield will be desperately short of perspective from May.

Don't bet against the last springtime of Gerrard's Liverpool career being a quite extraordinary one.

His football will be viewed through a different lens now that he is going. The old aura will be refreshed and the noises from those who have said he is finished these past few months will fade away into the background.

"Leave with them wanting more." That's what Jamie Carragher will have told his old friend, having announced his own departure three months before he left a couple of winters back.

Gerrard will also want to leave his Liverpool as a Champions League club. What we are about to see could be special.

But that is immaterial against the wider perspective of what happens beyond May and how Liverpool fill the vast space Gerrard vacates.


If nothing else, the barren-looking landscape must force the club to address the scandal of their transfer committee, whose decisions, taken with Brendan Rodgers and chief executive of Ian Ayre, have allowed Liverpool to fall so far away from competing for the Premier League title, just one season after they came so close.

It has been the collective judgment of Dave Fallows (head of recruitment), Michael Edwards (director of technical performance) and Barry Hunter (chief scout) that replacing Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger and Luis Suarez with Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli was wise.

There are extenuating circumstances, here and there.

It was not Liverpool's fault that the representatives of Alexis Sanchez - their first choice to replace Suarez - are notorious flirts.

Liverpool were strung along by them last summer, just as Manchester City had been three years earlier, before things cooled.

The truth was that Sanchez only ever wanted to sign for Barcelona back then, just like he only had eyes for London - and Arsenal - last year.

Fortunately, the other plate City had spinning at the time was Sergio Aguero, a 23-year-old keen to leave Atletico Madrid, whose agent happened to be with City's people at the M56 Marriott hotel.

Juventus wanted Aguero, too, so City pounced, closing the Aguero deal immediately and telling their senior man in Spain to quit trying to call the Sanchez camp.

What City displayed back then was a real decisiveness about who they were after and the knowledge that money talked - because, at £38m, Aguero did not come cheap.

It was not Liverpool's fault that the back-up option to Sanchez - Loic Remy - presented concerns about a heart condition when he underwent a Liverpool medical last summer.

But the very fact that an £8.5m striker like Remy should have been the alternative reveals the flawed conviction of the club and its owners that they can locate the bargains who have evaded everyone else's attention and make them into winners.

Remy went to Chelsea, where he has sunk without trace.

Liverpool may seek to do more business this month. They could bring in as many as four players during the transfer window - including a striker, a midfielder and a goalkeeper. But the usual principles seem likely to apply.


The preference will be for players whose contracts are running out in six to 18 months, allowing them to be signed on the cheap. Sensible, prudent signings who will not deliver Liverpool to a level which reflects their status as the 12th biggest revenue earners in world football.

It is why the club need a technical director to match Rodgers' football intelligence - not a transfer committee.

An individual with the experience, dynamism, boldness and connections to persuade the world's best players that Liverpool should be their choice - because powers of persuasion play a big part in bringing players to Anfield, rather than London or Old Trafford - but also the authority to challenge the owners' reluctance about splashes in the transfer market.

They needed that individual when Victor Valdes' uncertainties about the Melwood set-up allowed him to leave for Manchester United to continue his recovery from injury and be in place to play.

They needed him to push for an activation of the £20m buyout clause in Wilfried Bony's Swansea City contract last summer, when the acquisition would have brought £100,000-a-week wages.

They will need him to supervise Liverpool's most important signing of all next summer - a centre-back of the calibre of Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels. (© Independent News Service)

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