Jürgen Klopp’s £56m Alisson Becker swoop, Liverpool’s new “marquee signing”, has infuriated some rival supporters. For many, it suggests the German has abandoned all which epitomised his idolised managerial nous – the totalising belief in finding solutions from within. Over the years, the German has unearthed talents such as Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Liverpool’s own Andy Robertson.
Sam Patterson (@sam0007ster) considers Klopp’s obvious change of face and believes the Reds are very much inclined to “splash the cash”. Klopp, the man who in 2016 indicated he would “quit football if the biggest-spending club always won“, now brushes that statement aside.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference before Liverpool’s friendly with Dortmund last month the German said, “I couldn’t imagine the world would change like that two and a half years ago. £100m was a crazy number. Since then the world has changed completely.”
“My responsibility is for this club to be as successful as possible. It is not for me to push through my thoughts and say we don’t want to buy players or pay big money and in the end, Liverpool is not successful. That doesn’t work.”
The beginning of last summer is a necessary starting point, as Liverpool’s record outlay on a single player was still the £35 million spent on Andy Carroll in January 2011. It seemed Liverpool were still some way off mixing with the elite – on and off the pitch.
The reported budget was £150 million and when you consider the £89 million splashed by Manchester United on Paul Pogba the year before, it puts the figure into perspective. Of course, the staggering £200 million deal between Barcelona and PSG for the transfer of Neymar in July 2017 is also worth noting – context is indeed king.
It was widely reported the Reds would go all out for three players to improve its spine – a winger (Julian Brandt and Mohamed Salah had been touted as options), Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig’s highly rated midfielder Naby Keïta.
As we all know, Liverpool would not have it all their own way, but Klopp’s intentions were there for all to see.
Mohamed Salah (£37.8m), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£34.2m), Andrew Robertson (£8.1)
Mamadou Sakho (£25.38m), Divock Origi (loan fee: £5.85m), Lucas Leiva (£5.13m), Kevin Stewart (£4.05m)
Approximate net = £39.69 million.
The Reds also agreed to sign Keïta for July 2018, but if truth be told, Liverpool had failed to fully flex their financial muscle. This was especially disappointing as Klopp had shown a willingness to spend big.
In truth, the Philippe Coutinho saga was the major story last summer. Klopp’s most prized asset clearly wanted out, while Barcelona were willing to go over the odds to get their man. While Liverpool managed to keep hold of the Brazilian, it only halted the inevitable. Six months down the line, Barcelona found a way, and once again it felt like Anfield was still – to put it plainly – a stepping stone.
However, on top of unspent millions, Coutinho’s exit meant Klopp, Michael Edwards and the transfer committee would have a significant influx of capital to play around with. A new void needed filling but the Reds’ bank balance must have been a frightening prospect.
A portion of that capital was spent on van Dijk. The Dutchman arrived in January for a record amount – upwards of £70 million – the most ever spent on a centre-half. Once more, Klopp’s intentions were clear.
The fee was of little concern, as the German prioritized finding and pursuing recognised “quality“. Liverpool were dealt a major blow when Coutinho left, but because of the nature of today’s market, Klopp was and is determined to hit back and has the capacity to do so.
Virgil van Dijk (£70.92m)
Philippe Coutinho (£112.5m) plus Daniel Sturridge loan fee (£2.07m)
Approximate net = -£43.65m.
Klopp’s pursuit of van Dijk was only a taster of what was to come. “Problem-solving” seems to be the buzz phrase here. The German clearly recognised Liverpool’s weaknesses at the back and believed no one was better equipped than the Southampton defender to steady the ship. That trend has continued.
Liverpool’s journey to the Champions League final last term was a magnificent feat but Klopp’s men ultimately fell short. Falling short is not the desired end, and in turn, it served to illuminate another gaping hole in Liverpool’s rearguard – the lack of a top-class goalkeeper.
Loris Karius was bought from Mainz in 2016 with high hopes. Hopes founded on the belief that a relatively tiny outlay – at £4 million – would prove a snip. He was, of course, voted the second-best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga in 2016, behind Germany’s number one, Manuel Neuer.
Karius was hyped up as the embodiment of a modern-daygoalkeeper – Neuer-esque if you like. Klopp wants his goalkeeper to be brave, expressive and with an appreciation of those in front of him. He needed a willingness to launch a quick break and the ability to confidently play out from the back. In short, an eleventh outfield player.
It has to be said, the young goalkeeper has not had the best time at the Merseyside club and has failed to live up to those expectations. Football is a ruthless game at times and it seems Klopp has decided to pay a premium price for his replacement.
A complete package? We will have to wait and see, but Alisson’s performances during his second season at Roma and at international level suggests he is incredibly capable. There is nothing clever about this signing; Klopp is not trying to unearth a hidden gem or develop potential, he has bought what he believes is the best. I believe this shows Klopp’s mindset in the market has changed substantially, and indeed, justifiably.
Alisson Becker (£56.25m), Naby Keïta (£54m), Fabinho (£40.5m), Xherdan Shaqiri (£13.23)
Danny Ward (£12.6m)
Approximate net = £151.38m
Two weeks on, the dust has begun to settle: @LFC’s pinned tweet welcoming Alisson has been removed, while countless news accounts are back tweeting cryptic emojis signalling a belief – probably unfounded if may I add – that Edwards might, just might, have one more trick up his sleeve.
If there is one more welcome surprise – in terms of incomings rather than outgoings – it would be far from overboard.
Also, consider Liverpool’s windfall for reaching Kiev last season – a reported £70 million – consider TV revenue, consider the prize money for a fourth-place finish. For the sake of convenience, I won’t lay these figures out on paper here, but they are certainly food for thought. The considerable investment this summer is no surprise to me.
Up the Reds.