The majority of Liverpool’s transfers this summer have been departures, with a mix of youth and experience leaving Anfield for other pastures it is the beginning of a new era on Merseyside.
A true servant of the club; Martin Škrtel always wore his heart on his sleeve. The loyal Slovak had been at the club for eight and a half years and over 300 games until he was shown the door this summer; moving on to Fenerbahçe for a reported fee of around £5 Million. Many fans grew impatient with his brash style of defending, often caught flying into tackles and giving away fouls through overly-physical play. However, it must not be forgotten that there were many great moments in his Liverpool career. Important goals against Arsenal and Manchester City in the 2013/14 charge for the Premier League title along with some frustrating defensive performances throughout the campaign perfectly sum up the duality of Škrtel. A cult hero who truly appreciated what it means to play for Liverpool and arguably a modern legend of the club, only Lucas Leiva has served the club longer among our current ranks. All the best Martin, thanks for the memories.
An extremely likeable personality whose on-field performances divided fans and media alike. Arriving from Premier League newcomers Swansea City under the moniker of the “Welsh Xavi” bestowed upon him by then-manager Brendan Rodgers; living up to his reported £13 million price tag was always going to be an uphill battle for Joe Allen. After a slow start to life in Liverpool, not unlike current captain Jordan Henderson, he grew to be an important and reliable squad player over the years. Performances such as Manchester City home in 2014/15 demonstrated his ability to dictate the tempo of the game in a manner not seen at Liverpool since the likes of Xabi Alonso. However, at the age of 26, Allen understandably wanted to be starting regularly and unfortunately a midfielder of his variety simply did not fit into Jurgen Klopp’s tactics, despite the German’s obvious respect for his ability. Brilliant performances for Wales at the European Championship 2016 saw him named in the team of the tournament and left some Liverpool fans disappointed when his transfer was finalised. This said, £15 million for a player in the last year of his contract must be seen as a good piece of business. Best of luck to Joe, looking forward to watching him starting regularly for Stoke.
The boy tipped to surpass Raheem Sterling for Liverpool unfortunately never showed consistent signs of fulfilling his immense potential. After encouraging displays during the 2015/16 preseason, Jordon Ibe failed to transition his preseason form to the Premier League and the direct running that had raised the hopes of Liverpool fans completely vanished from his game signaling an alarming drop in confidence. This, compounded with his erratic final ball eventually led to him being dropped from the team. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp seemed to reignite his fire briefly with some strong displays including Rubin Kazan and Bournemouth away. Unfortunately this form was short-lived. A reported rift grew between Klopp and Ibe but undeniably Klopp, like many Liverpool supporters, had run out of patience and perhaps even faith in the young winger. £15 million for a player of his potential may not seem a lot in the current market, especially given Sterling was sold for close to £50 million, but the insertion of a buy-back clause may well prove to be a master stroke as Ibe will be given the opportunity to shine on a regular basis for Bournemouth under an excellent manager in Eddie Howe who sets him team up in a manner which will suit Ibe perfectly. A great shame that he couldn’t make significant strides forward in his career at Liverpool, here’s hoping Jordon plays out of his skin at Bournemouth and grows into a player that Klopp would want to buy back in the future.
Kolo Toure’s contract expired this summer to the disappointment of a portion of fans; an immensely experienced character who undoubtedly acted as a valuable mentor for many in the squad. His valiant performance in his last game for Liverpool in the Europa League final was a fitting conclusion to a productive stint on Merseyside. An endearing figure that will be missed by fans and players alike, he now joins up with former manager Brendan Rodgers at Celtic with many hoping he returns to Liverpool someday in a coaching capacity.
Jose Enrique’s was released early from his expiring contract and unlike Toure he will not be very fondly remembered or missed. Never really demonstrating the quality required to be a Liverpool player despite some decent displays earlier in his Liverpool career, he quickly became the 3rd or 4th choice left-back. He was restricted to just a handful of cup games against lower-league sides in later seasons; failing to impress even at that level. The 30 year old is yet to find a new club and many fans will feel his social media prowess greatly surpassed his on-field ability.
Sergi Canos and Brad Smith were both moved on for £2.5 million and £6 million and will ply their trade for Norwich and Bournemouth respectively. Canos was a bright spark on loan at Brentford last season and has the potential to be a potent asset to the Canaries in their attempt to return to the Premier League. Smith was a decent back-up for Alberto Moreno and has demonstrated some good, raw ability in his pace and attacking mindedness. Hopefully he will receive more game time at Dean Court to develop this potential. Both players had buy-back clauses inserted into their deals and will be worth keeping an eye on this season.
Releases and Loans
Elsewhere Ryan McLaughlin, Daniel Cleary, Daniel Trickett-Smith, Alex O’Hanlon, Will Marsh, Kristof Polgar and the once highly rated Samed Yesil were released after failing to make the grade. Youngster Jordan Rossiter who was regarded as the ‘next Steven Gerrard’ left for Rangers for a £250k compensation fee after failing to agree to negotiations on a contract extension, which was disappointing given his potential but the club were right to refuse to be held to ransom by a 19 year old. Liverpool’s youngest ever goal-scorer Jerome Sinclair departed for Watford for £4 million after a tumultuous end to his stay on Merseyside. His departure will not have disappointed too many fans after his outspoken behaviour and that of his (and Raheem Sterling’s) agent Aidy Ward. Joao Carlos Teixeira left for Porto for a £250k compensation fee after failing to break through to the first team on a regular basis. A supremely talented player but always struggled with the physical nature of English football. Finally, Lawrence Vigouroux made his loan move to Swindon Town permanent for a reported fee of just under £500k.
A number of players have also been loaned out for the season including exciting young players such as Allan Rodrigues in his quest for an English working visa, promising goalkeeper Danny Ward and attacking live-wires Ryan Kent and Cameron Brannagan; as well as other young players including Ryan Fulton, Jack Dunn (for only 6 months) and Lloyd Jones. Adam Bogdan has also been loaned out after a nightmare first season at Liverpool, it’s surely only a matter of time before his inevitable transfer away or release. Young Scouser Jon Flanagan has been loaned out to Premier League underdogs Burnley, and whilst most fans will be hoping he gets his career back on track after a horror injury saw him sidelined for over 18 months, it would appear that the task of breaking back into Liverpool’s first team will be a bridge too far for the industrious full-back, let’s hope we’re proven wrong.
Despite already allowing many players to depart, there are still some players left that are rumoured to be on the chopping block. The defensive pair of Andre Wisdom and Tiago Ilori may be deemed surplus to requirements after failing to impress on various loan spells. In midfield, Luis Alberto has been a reported target for a number of teams including Sevilla, although the two clubs have been unable to agree on a fee for the former Barcelona-B player. Lucas Leiva now appears to be set to remain at Anfield for another season after Jurgen Klopp reportedly blocked Galatasaray’s advances, opting to keep him as cover due to Mamadou Sakho, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Ilori’s unavailability; as well as the lack of any other established defensive midfielders. Lazar Markovic is rumoured to be of interest to a number of teams including Schalke who are looking to replace Manchester City’s Leroy Sane. For now it appears he will remain at Anfield as a backup to the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. Christian Benteke has attracted the attention of many Premier League sides, with Crystal Palace appearing the most likely destination, however Liverpool are thought to be demanding a £30 million fee upfront for the Belgian, with the London-based club only willing to meet that fee on a clause-based deal. Finally, of course, there’s Mario Balotelli. Liverpool are desperate to get rid of the polarising Italian after relegating him to the reserve squad. Several smaller Italian teams have opened discussions, but his considerable wages are proving to be a stumbling block.
Overall Liverpool have been very successful at trimming down the over-sized squad and clearing some of the deadwood that is necessary in forging a new era at Anfield. Whilst some fans may be disappointed at certain departures such as Joe Allen and Kolo Toure as well as promising youngsters including Jordon Ibe and Jordan Rossiter; Liverpool have (uncharacteristically) displayed some calculated business prowess. This has been demonstrated by making a profit off of Allen despite being in the final year of his contract, as well as receiving over-the-odds fees for the likes of Brad Smith and inserting buy-back clauses into deals for players with high-potential such as Ibe. There is still work to be done to move on some more dead weight off of the wage bill, and hopefully receiving decent transfer fees at the same time. Jurgen Klopp warned the squad that there would be a lot of departures, and he has certainly delivered. Liverpool could achieve a rare profit from transfers if more players are sold with Liverpool’s total spending and fees received currently totaling roughly £70 million and £48.5 million respectively, meaning only £21.5 million is needed to balance the books, a very achievable feat.
Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 12/08/2016.