By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
If Liverpool were to suddenly announce the arrival of an elite player, as fans we would all be delighted – or possibly even de Ligt-ed.
The transfer window is here and, as usual, the Anfield club is being linked with every single player that may have given even a hint of being available.
Ajax’s teenage sensation – or one of them at least – Matthijs de Ligt was one of the early links, which seemed to be gaining traction with each passing day even before Jurgen Klopp’s side finished their season with their sixth European Cup triumph in Madrid.
This now looks dead in the water, as interest from far more desperate clubs like Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain has pushed price tags and wage demands far beyond what Liverpool would ever pay.
Juventus now looks to be the likely destination for the Holland international, as reports emerged that the Bianconeri would be willing to pay wages of around €15million-a-year to secure his signature.
This is an obscene number if true, which would mean that the 19-year-old would be on double the salary that Paulo Dybala earns in Turin. Given their respective situations, United and PSG might be tempted to match that number, but LFC wouldn’t even consider it.
It isn’t because the club or owners FSG can’t afford it. It isn’t because of a lack of ambition. It’s because the club operates with a strict financial policy which has paid dividends in recent years since the Hicks and Gillett debacle.
A rigid wage structure and careful planning for transfer budgets has seen the club recycle players effectively, and use the money earned to strengthen the squad in the right areas, culminating in that Champions League win.
It’s for this exact reason that Liverpool wouldn’t match the reported €75m that Inter Milan are willing to pay for Lille’s Nicolas Pépé – another who has been strongly linked with a move to Merseyside.
A fine player? Yes.
Would the Reds benefit from having the Ivorian? Absolutely.
Is it worth breaking financial structures, setting a bad precedent and potentially sparking a chain of events that leads to more money problems? Not on your life.
The recruitment team of sporting director Michael Edwards, chief scout Barry Hunter et al know exactly what the club needs and the cash they have at their disposal to make it happen. It took the nine-figure sale of Philippe Coutinho to persuade them to spend big on VIrgil van Dijk and Alisson, providing a solution to the team’s main problem areas.
He’s a wily and experienced trader, the type of guy who attends a sale at an auction house – he’s already got in mind exactly what he’ll bid for and he’s attached his own, personal price estimates to each lot. He won’t bid above it, because he’s considering big-picture budgets and resale value as well as market price trends.
So whenever Liverpool are caught in a bidding war for a player and bow out when the prices get too high, it isn’t because the Reds have been beaten – Edwards is simply putting the club’s interests first.
And considering his track record in the market over the last few years – with both incoming and outgoing players – best to trust that he’s got his decision absolutely spot on.