It has been reported that Liverpool’s owners FSG are currently in negotiations over a £6billion investment deal with RedBall Acquisition, a group fronted by baseball legend Billy Beane.
The Reds have become a force in Europe once again after a Champions League success and a Premier League title – and this potential deal might be one which could help them stay there.
Beane was general manager at baseball side Oakland Athletics from 1998 until 2016, and in that time he revolutionised the side both on and off the field.
The 58-year-old American brought in analyst Peter Brand, and with him came a new transfer strategy.
The new ethos meant that, instead of looking at a single player and his output, they would look at the group of players and split the stats evenly amongst the players.
The concept was formed when the side lost the key men, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen. This left the club with little money to replace its star names, meaning the higher-ups had to get creative.
Beane and Brand created a strategy where, instead of looking at the players, you look at statistics. They would look at things such as the chance of a certain player scoring runs, and then built the team with very little money to a point where they could compete with the biggest sides in the league.
Brand worked out the amount of wins the side would need to make it to the post season, how many runs they would need to do that and the most amount of runs they could afford to concede.
He then ran through every player they could afford and between them they built the profile of a team they wanted – a team which, when you put all of their stats together, would be capable of being the club’s championship side.
This theory would have to be edited slightly to work in football however. Things like key passes, shots per 90 and others would have to be calculated about a player and then see how that could be improved based on position of shots and other factors.
During his 18-year stay at the Oakland A’s, Beane ultimately failed to win the club a championship. This does not mean that his time there wasn’t a success, though, as his work helped them to compete with the ‘big teams’ in the league on a much smaller budget.
We’ve seen clubs try to compete with a business model like this in the Premier League in the past – Southampton under Mauricio Pochettino for example.Embed from Getty Images
Beane has already tried to make steps into football in the past. He worked for the San Jose Earthquakes when they were taken over, helping the side build a cost effective team while working under the MLS wage cap structure.
The baseball legend, who considers former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger an idol, also worked for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in 2015.
Beane has already spoken out about Liverpool in the past, praising the signing of Sepp van den Berg.
“Everybody is looking for young players, and just because somebody is young doesn’t mean that they are going to be a great player in any sport,” he said.
“What is interesting is when you take a 15 or 16-year-old – in the States, he would be in his second year of high school – and if he is playing at the average Eredivisie level and he is 15 or 16, that to me is the real exploitation of data.”
It’s not only the van den Berg deal where there is evidence of the theory being deployed either.
None of the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino were regarded as world-class players before coming to Liverpool but now all three have ranked in Ballon d’Or voting.
All of the previously mentioned players were spotted at Roma, Southampton and Hoffenheim respectively and would now fit into any team in the world.Embed from Getty Images
Since the arrival of director of football Michael Edwards on Merseyside, it seems as if Liverpool have taken up the model on their own.
Signings like Dominic Solanke demonstrate this perfectly.
Liverpool signed him for just £3m on a tribunal fee from Chelsea in 2017, and he went on to be sold to Bournemouth for £19m just 18 months later, showing you can still find good value in the market these days.
Even though Solanke didn’t make the first team, an example of someone who did is Joe Gomez. Liverpool signed him for just £3.5m from Charlton Athletic after he had played just 21 games for them in the Championship.Embed from Getty Images
Since arriving at Anfield, Gomez has been a first team regular, representing the team regularly since he first arrived at the club.
If the takeover were to happen, Liverpool would likely be even more of a force in the transfer market than they already are.
Between Beane and Edwards, Liverpool would have two of the most shrewd, experienced men in the game. Both would be able to give insight into the sport and have a knack for unearthing hidden gems from home and abroad.
When partnered with manager Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool could be unstoppable with the players coming through to take over when it’s time for the first team squad to move on or retire.
“When I leave at any point in my life it is important that it is still in a very good place,” said Klopp in an interview in 2019, showing the German’s commitment to taking steps to secure the club’s future.
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