On the back of a successful Champions League campaign, and an almost-faultless domestic campaign during which they accumulated 97 points- the most amount of points the club has ever earned in one season- and suffered only one defeat, expectations are high for Liverpool FC. In almost any other year, such a record would have been enough to secure the Anfield outfit a Premier League title. However, they were beaten to it by an extraordinary Manchester City team who, with Pep Guardiola at the helm, managed to go on a 14 game win-streak in order to secure the title.
The disappointment of the Premier League aside, Liverpool’s season was an encouraging one. The now six-times Champions of Europe have established themselves as one of the few teams at the top of World Football; and with such a title comes an extraordinary amount of pressure. Consistency has been Liverpool’s downfall in recent seasons. From game to game, and season to season, one hardly knew what to expect. However, this has changed. Liverpool have gone from a ‘maybe’ side- a team who could achieve something- into a ’should’ side- a team that is expected to win something. With that said, this transfer market was a crucial time for Liverpool to make any additions needed in order for the squad to reproduce, and exceed, what they did last season.
In the end, that didn’t happen. The only additions made to the squad were the acquisitions of two youngsters- Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott- two players who look to have plenty of potential, but will ultimately spend most of the season with the reserve squad. As well as that, Adrian was brought in as a free agent in order to replace the departed Simon Mignolet, who left for Club Brugge in search of more game time. In terms of players that left the club, eight players were either sold or out of contract, while a further twelve have agreed loan deals elsewhere.
Indeed, when you crunch the numbers, Liverpool’s transfer market can very well seem to be a failure. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather than splashing millions on players for the sake of it, Liverpool have invested that money into the current squad by getting their current players to commit their futures to the club- with most of their first-team players having extended their contracts. While contract extensions are rarely front-page, title-grabbing news, the fact that Liverpool have been able to get their players to commit their futures to the club shows how far they’ve progressed from the club that consistently struggled to keep, and eventually had to sell, their best players- Suarez, Sterling, Coutinho and Torres are all examples of that.
Liverpool has once again became an attractive place for the highest calibre of footballers to play. In the past, top players would turn their noses up at offers from Liverpool while waiting for offers from ‘bigger’ clubs, and the few top-quality players they did have always seemed to have their eyes elsewhere. Liverpool was a stepping-stone in a player’s career. Now, however, we get the feeling that this has changed. Liverpool’s star-players- Mane, Salah, Van Dijk- don’t seem to be looking elsewhere. They are happy at the club- a club that competes for major trophies and at which a player can achieve the things that all players dream of achieving. The mentality at the club, the team-spirit, and the manager, along with it’s attractive, intense style of play, and international fanbase has turned the club from a ‘once was’ into a club that ‘is’ and, more importantly, ‘will be’.
Of course, additions still could have been made to the squad. Liverpool have one of the most threatening and fluid teams in the world- but they’re only an injury or two away from disaster. There was a lack of strength-in-depth last season that showed at times, particularly in the full-back and attacking-midfield positions. Liverpool failed to address these areas, relying instead on the fluidity of players like James Milner, as well as the youngsters coming through the ranks to plug these holes in the squad. With that said, the return to full-fitness of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Joe Gomez and Naby Keita could very well be as good as three new signings, and adds a new dimension to the Liverpool squad that they were lacking at times last season.
The main talking point for Liverpool fans this transfer market was the possible return of Phillipe Coutinho. Indeed, as a fan myself I too hoped at moments to see him back at Anfield. However, it is important to remove emotions for a moment and to put things into perspective. If Coutinho had of been brought in on a loan, what good would it have been? Klopp was never going to structure the team around a player that would leave at the end of the season. He has incredible quality, that is indisputable. But when you’re trying to build a squad that will challenge on all fronts from one season to the next, loan players are little more than plasters over holes. On the other hand, if he was bought, the fee would have easily exceeded €100 million. Is he worth it? Does he even get into Liverpool’s best XI? And is that position really the one where that money would be best invested? In an ideal world, perhaps he would have been brought back to Liverpool. But, at this moment in time, the transfer didn’t make sense- financially or strategically. Coutinho is a world-class player, but a team full of world-class players doesn’t always equate to a world-class team.
All in all, I would argue that Liverpool’s transfer market was more positive than negative. No news in football is good news. Liverpool kept all of their best players made a profit of some €25 million, and have gotten three promising first-team players back to full-fitness. The transfer market isn’t just about buying and selling. It’s about buying the right players at the right prices. As a fan, you always want to see your club signing top players. But keeping top players is just as important as signing them. Whether or not Liverpool and Klopp will come to regret their quiet Summer remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: the squad already has the quality to achieve great things. The big question for Liverpool this season is whether or not they have the mentality to deal with, and live up to, the expectations that they now face. As a Liverpool fan, I believe so. And as a football fan, I hope so. I hope all of the top five teams live up to their potential, and that the top four spots, as well as that of first place, goes right down to the wire. That’s when football is at its best. That’s when world-class players step up to the plate. And, most importantly, that’s when the emotional experience of being a fan reaches its highest point.
Transfers mean nothing if the results don’t follow. Great teams need strong foundations, and that’s what Liverpool have spent their time and money focusing on. In the past, Liverpool have lost their best players and rushed into buying replacements that didn’t fit the bill. Now, the approach is different. Nobody wins anything by chance. Liverpool fans must trust in the process, and respect the decisions made by Klopp. Nobody knows what this team is capable of better than he does. Perhaps there was not much to celebrate during the transfer window, but that’s not what matters. What matters is how much you have to celebrate come the end of the season; and only time will reveal to us the answer to that question.
About the Author
Lee Molloy is a twenty-year-old literature student and writer from Dublin, Ireland. Having spent years posting his pieces on his Instagram, he finally decided to start a blog where he can share his writing with the world. His biggest inspirations in writing are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Albert Camus, and Charles Baudelaire.