Liverpool’s Transfer window – A play in strategy

Kaleidoscope 30 Comments

“Bottoms in the investment world don’t end with four-year lows, they end with 10 or 15-year lows.”

- Jim Rogers

Albeit Jim Rodger’s statement is more applicable to financial stock markets, investments, returns and sustenance, his underlying philosophy remains unquestioned. Bottom-line results do matter. I’m not being myopic – it’s not about Liverpool being out of the Champions’ League for 4 years but about the fact that Liverpool have not won the elusive English Premier league for 23 years.

If you look around, this summer has seen a sea of changes in the upper half of the Premier League – Sir Alex retiring, Mourinho back at Chelsea, Pellegrini at City, Wenger spending(!), and Spurs possibly losing Bale for a ridiculous fee. Among these, Liverpool fans perhaps have been through the most emotional toil they have endured in recent years. With over 700 appearances under his belt (or cleats), this summer saw Jamie Carragher hanging up his boots – a Liverpool legend and one of finest example of a one club man in world football. Pepe Reina also ended his 7 year association with the club. Liverpool fans & Reina himself would have liked it if the departure was much more amicable.

If that wasn’t enough, Luis Suarez’s ongoing ramblings have tested Liverpool fan’s steadfast support and patience past a tolerable limit. Subsequently, it has done wonders for his image in the eyes of Arsenal fans – He is no longer a racist, egoistic man who has no character and shame. The same set who previously claimed that Suarez should no longer play football as it’s completely unacceptable and out of character for anyone to behave like this. How could he!

Suddenly, Luis is Arsenal’s best hope of being title contenders and he is no longer a child only a mother could love. I could go on with this but that would miss the point of this article. The Luis Suarez saga however, is a key note in the entire plot. Liverpool’s stance on Luis – particularly the way Rodgers has handled the situation is commendable and deserves appreciation.

Liverpool in the transfer market

In November last year, Liverpool formed a transfer committee – not something that we hear everyday or at every club. The committee encompasses Dave Fallows (Head of recruitment), Barry Hunter (Chief scout),  Michael Edwards (Head of Performance & Analysis), Ian Ayre (Managing Director) and finally first team manager Brendan Rodgers.

I had hinted back in May that I could see Pepe Reina leaving the club which people refused to believe. It wasn’t an ITKish hit-and-a-miss. The conclusion was drawn from how Liverpool operated in the previous window and some simple analytics. Although I would have liked it if Pepe would have continued at the club, the move is a sign of a wave of changes to come.

Here is a quick look at Liverpool’s goalkeeper’s department and their wage structure:

Player Weekly Wages Yearly Wages
Danny Ward £6,535.94 £339,868.99
Brad Jones £10,644.53 £553,515.71
Simon Mignolet £45,000.00 £2,340,000.00
Pepe Reina £110,000.00 £5,720,000.00

 

Wages - Keepers

Wages - Keepers - Yearly

The obvious opinion surfaces – you don’t keep a £110k/week keeper on the bench. However, it was always in Liverpool’s interest to have Simon Mignolet as a replacement, not as competition to Reina. Here are some Mignolet statistics.

pr-sm-save-percentage

Image Credit: Bass Tuned to Red @BassTunedtoRed

The Belgian shot stopper has made more saves than Pepe in the last 2 consecutive years, has a higher save percentage than him and played for Sunderland, who give him a weaker defensive cover than Reina gets at Liverpool. Take that into perspective besides the fact that getting Reina off the wage bill saves Liverpool £5.7m annually. Even after inculcating Mignolet into the wage bill, Liverpool save £2.4m annually.

Side note: On a detailed Reina vs Mignolet comparison, I recommend you read @BassTunedToRed’s piece here

Moving ahead, when you take a quick look at the defender wage structure, things start getting interesting.

Defender wages

A key point which is missing here is Jamie Carragher. Carra retired in the summer and along with him, wages of £120k/week. That is approximately £6.25m per year – not a small amount! Also, here is why I feel Martin Skrtel is about to be offloaded – he’s on £70k/week wages for the season and has made only 23 starts last season. You also can’t help but feel that Brendan doesn’t think Skrtel fits into his system by the bit-part role that he played last season. I’m not questioning his quality – I’m sure Martin deserves every bit of the £70k/week wages he earns. However, as per his performance evaluation, he also deserves more game time. Skrtel won’t be of concern unless Liverpool are looking to replace him with *cough*Papa*cough*

I’m sure you must have noticed by now – you’ve guessed it right. If you apply the same principles, I can’t see Glen Johnson staying at Liverpool beyond this transfer window. I may be wrong of course but his wages of £100k/week principally are not proportional to the value he provides to the team at right-back.

Here are how our midfielders earn:

Midfielder Wages

Captain Fantastic, Stevie G miscues the entire graph like an outlier. Since he is indispensable to the club, it is best to remove him for the purpose of simplicity in analysis.

Here is how the new chart reflects data. *ducks from sight*

Midfielder Wages 2

Lads,

There you have it! You’re not having an illusion. Stewart Downing is our highest earning midfielder, only second to Gerrard. Although I have said in the past that I appreciate the way Downing has turned around his campaign magnificently after getting a kick up the backside from Brendan (and he did!); and that he deserves another shot. I still maintain he is good enough to be a squad player but he simply can’t be squad at that £80k! Bushwa! (Thanks Hodgson! edit* -> omg Kenny!)

Oh, and look Jay Spearing is on an absurd contract!

Jury: I can’t see him in a red jersey come September.

For those who feel that at a stretch, it can be argued that Jordan Henderson is a bit on the higher side of the curve considering his young age – his contribution to the team is something that can’t be disregarded. Here is a neutral comparison of Wilshere, Cleverley & Henderson. I’m not suggesting in any way that he is as good as those two, but his contribution as a team player is immense and his value to the team should not be undermined.

Finally, Luis Suarez.

John Henry what are they smokingLiverpool currently hold a strong stance with respect to Luis Suarez. Arsenal’s attempt of £40m+£1 was rejected. Suarez does not have a release clause embedded in his contract and in most likelihood, Liverpool will reject a £42.5m bid too. Brendan has maintained that Suarez belongs to the “top bracket of players”, “Liverpool do not have to sell him”, “looking to build rather than break” and “a fee in the region £55m and we’ll consider”.

As a Liverpool fan, and a football fan, I would like to see Brendan Rodgers keep hold of him and get another season out of Suarez. Contrary to what most say, Liverpool needs Luis Suarez this season. Suarez is one of the best there is out there at the moment and without Champions’ League football to lure excellent players, Liverpool have very little chance to attract players of the same calibre (also with the new strategic spending in place). If Liverpool must sell Suarez, they should not negotiate anything below £55m, especially if they are selling to a direct rival for 4th place. I’ll voice a common opinion among Liverpool fans – I’d rather see Suarez leave for Madrid for £40m than to Arsenal for £55m. If Arsenal do put in an offer in that region, I believe Liverpool should sell him even if it is Arsenal – under the obvious condition that we smartly reinvest in 2-3 quality players. However, I do not think Wenger will put in such an offer. (Their record signing is Andrei Arshavin, £15m. They DO have the money to spend this season – however, Wenger will never overpay for a player if he feels the value isn’t proporional to returns)

New players – Finding Hidden Gems

Luis Alberto was bought in for £7m, Iago Aspas for £7m, Simon Mignolet for £9m and Kolo Touré for free. Liverpool have also done a splendid job of getting Andy Carroll off the wage bill plus selling him for £17.8m. We can’t comment anything with respect to how Liverpool’s summer signings will perform but they all mirror a strategic thought process. Also keep an eye on the wages the new players are earning – if they don’t perform, they are offloaded. If they do, apart from the obvious that their transfer value rises – a new contract (after a couple of years) which is still in the meager £60-£70k range. It’s a win-win situation!

Player Yearly Wages Weekly Wages
Kolo Touré £3,900,000.00 £75,000.00
Luis Alberto unknown unknown
Iago Aspas £1,379,478.40 £26,528.43
Simon Mignolet £2,340,000.00 £45,000.00

Liverpool’s two signings which have been the new Transfer Committee’s work – Phillepe Coutinho (£8m) and Daniel Sturridge (£12m) have been phenomenal to say the least. Their success in the January window was a pilot test for a template they could implement in the summer. These two have been exemplary and fit well into Brendan’s philosophy of playing. Liverpool are looking for value in the transfer market rather than just getting the best out there.

Coutinho

Fans are resistant to change which is quite natural considering their thorough knowledge and the longevity of their association with the game. They have seen a lot things gone wrong in the past and their apprehension towards a new direction is understandable. Liverpool are however competing in a league which boasts of Man City, Chelsea and Man United – their strength in spending, in addition to their presence in the European Cup gives them an edge over any prime target Liverpool set an eye on.

There have been many fans berating FSG on public forums claiming how Liverpool are not being ambitious. Most of the fans have been calling for Marquee signings and claiming FSG are simply asset stripping. I can assure you they are not. If you want quick returns, a football club is the worst investment you could ever make. Liverpool also don’t have a bottomless pit to spend from and if Liverpool play the game according to their rivals, they are bound to lose. Considering the financial wealth of other clubs, Liverpool will only fail if they work in the traditional way. Let me put it this way, the probability of Liverpool succeeding is much higher if they are prudent in their transfer dealings rather than spending a bomb on a few players and hoping they would fare well. This is Liverpool’s best chance to break into the top four after which Liverpool can spend heavily,

The method of spending to win the league with exponentially increasing wage budgets would be the work of Dinosaurs as John Henry would attest. However, if this strategic spending does work, it won’t be long before John Henry with Liverpool, successfully replicates a feat similar to ending the curse of the Bambino.

Gaurang is a part of the @Football_P family. You can follow him at @GaurangLFC 

Gaurang Manjrekar

Liverpool Supporter. Business student at the University of Maryland. Electronics Engineer. Amateur footballer. Believes that glory will soon be around the fields of Anfield road.

  • Parth

    Love the way you have pointed out every single role in this article..

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      Thanks a lot Parth! :)

  • CaveNick

    Enjoyed you article!

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @CaveNick:disqus Thanks a lot mate!

  • legod

    excellent

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @legod Thanks a lot mate! :)

  • Sir Kelz

    Awesome article Gaurang! Quite analytical. Writing with facts! YNWA!

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @Sir Ketz Thanks a lot!
      YNWA :)

  • Juhani

    Nice article. Disagree with the Johnsson part because hes way of playing is integral in Rodgres system. Would like to think that the reason why hes form recently dipped abit was more the fact that cause of Carragher Pool had to play lower defensive line and that made the physical demands on fullbacks a bit too high.

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      Thanks Juhani. Appreciate the feedback!

      I’ve tried to put a theory in place devout of emotional attachment to any player (except Stevie G!) which would help make sense of how FSG & LFC are operating in the transfer market. I’m not sure if they will sell him, but if I’m right, he’ll leave.

      As a Liverpool fan, I’d like to say I’m a fan of Glen Johnson too! (although he’s defensively a bit weak). I’d like to watch him week in week out. But his wages are a bit concerning!

  • Rushikesh Ghatpande

    good article. I am actually among those guys who feel FSG lack real ambition to succeed.
    You made a point on the wages:
    I am happy that we got non-performers: Aquillani, Joe Cole, Carroll etc off the wagebill
    but when we save 400k from wage-bill by rightly shipping out these non-performers, I don’t see us going for a Marquee signing, or 2 good “FIRST TEAM additions” worth 150k or 200k (100+ 100)

    So, the wage money saved is not seen on the pitch !!!
    ———
    /*
    Considering the financial wealth of other clubs, Liverpool will only fail if they work in the traditional way. Let me put it this way, the probability of Liverpool succeeding is much higher if they are prudent in their transfer dealings rather than spending a bomb on a few players and hoping they would fare well. */

    BR clearly has a fine eye for quality- Stud and Coutinho,
    but ask youself, are the likes of Alberto, Aspas going to take you to the TOP4- I don’t think so. Alberto is a guy with great potential but so are Hendo, Allen even Borini to name a few such signings,
    but did they manage to take us to the next level- NO.
    See what has happened:

    LS7 feels (rightly) that club is not very ambitious, he is unhappy!!
    If he leaves, again the “rebuiliding” phase takes 2 steps back,
    No top4 and success anytime soon in such circumstances.
    Then, maybe after 1-2 years Coutinho will leave, again this same cycle over and over.
    Forever trapped in this cycle of mid-table and rebuilding
    whereas,
    A marquee signing:
    spending a bomb on a few players and hoping they would fare well.
    I bet you had the signings of AC9 and SD19 in mind, who have been a failure. Lets be honest, they were never quality signings.
    But why not go all out for someone like Soldado- who will guarantee 20+ goals/ season. I am talking abt spending big money on players with actual talent. eg: Edin Hazard at 32, slightly overprice but justified.

    Why not go all out for a marquee signing!!
    It signals real intent. Players like LS7 remain happy at the club and believe they can achieve something here.
    They uplift the entire team (RVP at United).
    ————
    I am not saying spend 100m every season, just 1 big name signing here and there is much needed considering the pace at which our competitors- Spurs, CFC, City and Utd are progressing.

    We don’t want to just improve but compete !!!
    ————
    btw, have you ever wondered if we don’t get into the TOP4 before FFP kicks in, then what happens, I don’t think so

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      Thanks for the feedback Rushikesh!

      “I am actually among those guys who feel FSG lack real ambition to succeed.” <- Strongly disagree. These are pretty smart people

      "The wages you mentioned which were saved are not seen on the pitch."

      Replacements were brought in. Are you not happy with Coutinho over Aquilani or Sturridge over Carroll? How does it matter if they earn lower wages? Is it bad to get the same results using less money? We overpaid previously and it's only

      "BR clearly has a fine eye for quality- Stud and Coutinho, but ask yourself, are the likes of Alberto, Aspas going to take you to the TOP4- I don't think so."

      I felt the same with Coutinho and Sturridge. Moreover, if you read the article these signings were made with a MAJOR input from the committee. What makes you say Aspas and Alberto are flops even BEFORE they play?

      "maybe after 1-2 years Coutinho will leave, again this same cycle over and over.

      Forever trapped in this cycle of mid-table and rebuilding
      whereas, " <- You're just assuming the will leave, no?

      Soldado? Why not got for Marquee?
      Liverpool will. They will sign that one player who will break this model, I'm pretty certain. Irrespective of what you say, Soldado is NOT worth €30m. Again, like I mentioned in the article, Liverpool are looking for value. Haven't Liverpool just bid €24m for Diego Costa? Isn't he better value for money?

      FFP? Think about this yourself. Do you think Liverpool will fare well if they have a dwindling wage bill? This entire article infact may envisage why Liverpool are going after a stable model after all. Tell me how others are going to justify their spending? Nevertheless, that is an article in itself and misses the plot.

      I hope I've answered your queries.
      Cheers!

      • Rushikesh Ghatpande

        Ahh, I can again refute several points of yours. But not going to start a fight with a random person over the internet. (I have had several on this subject in the past :P )

        I would have also liked to hear your thoughts on the way our main TOP4 rivals SPURS have gone about doing their business this summer. And between the 2 of us, who has shown the greater ambition for the European spot.
        It all comes down to a few important questions:
        Are we making steady progress? Yes.
        Has FSG and BR done a few good things?Yes
        But
        Do the 2 of them have real intent like
        Fergie: dream to knock LFC…, Roman who loves CFC or even this season’s AVB- Spurs? A dissappointing NO.
        So I will reiterate my point:

        We don’t want to just improve but compete !!!
        ——
        This whole project can either become a great success or just collapse (things I assumed previously)
        We can hope all we want, but HOPE is over-rated
        and this eternal flame of hope that we LFC fans have carried, lets be honest,
        it has not got us where we want to be.

        Cheers,
        Rushikesh

        • vignesh

          @rushikeshghatpande:disqus

          mate those are certainly some great points… spurs did make few not so great signings wrt (dempsey and gylfi) but they were our targets too..but the way they hav brought in (dembele lloris holtby vertongen) even without cl is jus unbelieveable.. i feel lfc are not upto it, and am left wondering how spurs pulled it… we certainly cant match cfc or city, its very hard to say but united hav reached another level under SAF(hopefully they struggle under moyes).. arsenal have made the club so stable and spurs getting very stong every passing window…

        • Ashay Kapse

          Dude Morgan Freeman said that hope is a good thing, and you don’t mess with Morgan Freeman.

        • Karan

          I am glad we don’t stay stuff like “Knock off the perch”, because that’s the prime reason I hate united for.

          I would not want LFC to turn into something that I hate.

          • Gaurang Manjrekar

            Word!

  • vignesh

    great article mate!!! thoroughly enjoyed it, but my oly concern is will strategic spending help when other clubs don follow it… we often compare this model with dortmund but in bundesliga der wer no gaint spenders lik city or chelsea and that helped them a long way!!As u know even in this window we couldnt sign players v wanted due to lack of “cl”, i feel owners need to spend big for 1-2 seasons get into cl and then keep hold of it else i fear we will have to wait longer…

    also @Football_P keep ur good work going wrt transfer updates :)
    -vignesh @iamvigu

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      I think the point I’m trying to make is strategic spending will help cause others are just pouring cash. Only time will tell mate.

      I’ll that message to the @Football_P handle!

      Cheers for the feedback!

  • Ray Cruise

    I have read a lot of things that are generally either rose tinted or angry thoughtless rants and are generally nonsense, this is a well well writen almost thought provoking read, well done mate, more of the same please…

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @f93eb7884c719e9d3d4b4b7e4af85008:disqus Thanks a lot Ray. Appreciate the good gesture! :)
      There is plenty of content on the website. Feel free to browse the website. I’m sure you’ll like the others on here!
      Keep in touch by our fan page/twitter too!
      Cheers mate! :)

  • Chris J

    Enjoyed the article mate. The only thing I would point out, is Dalglish signed Downing, not Hodgson

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @77e78e08ac3bdf391ed412393920c312:disqus OMG yes!
      I’ll get it corrected asap. Thanks a lot!

  • Abdullah

    Good article mate. Keep up the good work!

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @b9710023b4eb522a9c0fe695f28ee5a6:disqus Thanks a lot! Will do!

  • Michael

    to be honest i reallly doubt the signings we had made so far……… IMO i dnt think Toure is better than Skrtel(in fact Toure earns more),nd i dnt think we need another potential players(Alberto)wen we hav Suso who is much a better player!!

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      @disqus_NBJ3Gyr5N8:disqus Of course he isn’t! Toure was brought in to fill the experienced void left by Carragher, not Skrtel. If Skrtel leaves, I expect someone similar like Papadopolous to join.

      Honestly, I can’t comment about Luis Alberto as I haven’t seen him much. I think it would be best if we give them some time. Why criticise if they haven’t even played one competetive game for LFC?

  • Sasha

    Really well analysed article dude! Kudos!

    • Gaurang Manjrekar

      Thanks a lot @3607fb2767dfcda89bc936ee8086839e:disqus Appreciate it! :)

  • Warren

    I did enjoy the article but after claiming Spearing was on 55K a week I can’t help but doubt the entirety of your figures without adequate references.
    Spearing, 55K? No chance. He certainly wouldn’t have moved to Bolton for half that without a pay off.

More in Kaleidoscope (90 of 198 articles)
Gary Neville - Now.


The journey from being the player every non-United fan loved to hate to one of the most uniformly respected ...