Written by Kabir Ali
Exactly two months on from their Champions League win, Liverpool is gearing up for the new season. Along with hopes of defending their continental crown, the Reds will look to launch another assault at the Premier League title. While these two competitions will be their bread and butter, starting with the Community Shield on Sunday, they will be competing for one of seven honours this season.
Fans expected that this busy schedule – coupled with the club regaining its elite status and the supposed financial muscle at its disposal – to prompt a busy transfer window in the same vein as last year’s. They could not be more wrong however, with no first-team signings walking through the Melwood doors this summer. A poor run of results in the pre-season has the supporters debating the club’s approach to the market, which is due to shut on the eve of their League opener next Friday.
With Liverpool splashing £250million-plus in 2018, it’s easy to forgive the fans for expecting more of the same this time around. However, as Jürgen Klopp’s first-choice side picks itself for the most part, any incoming players would likely serve almost exclusively as back up, limiting not only their options but also the amount of money that can be spent on them.
And while some may point to the record-breaking revenues and profits declared over the last few months, there is some truth to Klopp’s admission that the club “has bills to pay”. A large chunk of these bills comes from the burgeoning wage and bonus structure on the back of new signings and contract renewals galore over the last 18 months. Even so, the Merseyside outfit compares favourably when stacked up against the rest of the Big 6. So, where is the money going?
To go with the brand new £50million complex in Kirkby which will house the club’s training facilities from next year, there has been talk of further redevelopment of Anfield to increase its capacity, past the 60,000 mark from senior figures in the boardroom, such as CEO Peter Moore and Chairman Tom Werner. This comes only three years after the main stand’s expansion, for which the club received a £100million loan from owners Fenway Sports Group.
Speaking before the Champions League final, FSG head John W. Henry promised additional funds to Klopp and Co. irrespective of the result in Madrid, stating his increased desire to lay hands on the Premier League trophy. These mixed signals have not been in line with the penny-pinching that Klopp claims has been going on behind the scenes.
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Even if the purse strings have been tightened, the bargain basement is flush with options that would fit the bill for Klopp. Hakim Ziyech has been put on the shop window by Ajax chief Marc Overmars for a paltry £22.5m and could provide the guile in midfield that has been sorely missing since Coutinho’s departure. Timo Werner has entered into the last year of his contract with RB Leipzig and provides the versatile forward option the side lacked at times last season, for a cut-price deal. Philipp Max of Augsburg is an eye-catching proposition as competition to Andy Robertson for the left-back spot.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham showed last season that great things can be achieved without breaking the bank. Whilst that seems to be Liverpool’s MO for the upcoming campaign, one can’t help but feel that the project Jürgen Klopp embarked on in October 2015 is within touching distance of its completion. It is looking increasingly likely, however, that the iron will not be struck while it’s hot.
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