Under the ownership of FSG and John Henry,Liverpool have undertaken a massive and expensive rebuilding programme. The club are certainly on the up at the minute and Kenny Dalglish’s return to management after an 11-year absence from the game has gone as well as could be hoped by this point.
However, in a recent interview, owner John Henry alluded to the fact that the club may have overpaid for some its talent – is this a theory that holds up upon closer inspection? The genial Henry argued:
“There was a lot of criticism in Boston that we weren’t going to spend money on the Red Sox after we did the LFC transaction. We spent something like $300m in the off-season in Boston, and then there was the fear we wouldn’t spend in Liverpool. It is really surprising, ironic, to be now accused of overspending. Usually owners are accused of the opposite.”
Of course, he was referring as much to the Boston Red Sox’s expenditure as Liverpool’s, but the creeping suspicion that the owner may feel that the club have failed to achieve value for money is something that has seeped through to the terraces.
Since January last season the club have spent £112.8m on transfers while recouping £77.95m, giving a net spend (for all you Rafa Benitez fans out there) of just £34.85m. It’s difficult to argue against the fact that the quality of the squad has increased. There is more strength in depth and competition for places. The result has seen Liverpool slowly but surely climb up the table and become a force to be reckoned with once again.
A lot has been made of Sporting Director Damien Comolli’s role at the club and his preference for the Moneyball system of using statistics to back up the club’s scouting network system with regards to purchasing players.
The big elephant in the room with this theory has been the poor performances of Andy Carroll who cost the princely sum of £35m. Comolli stated that Carroll’s price was somewhat irrelevant as the club were always prepared to pay £15m less than whatever Torres was eventually sold to Chelsea for. However, this does seem a tad disingenuous, because if Liverpool had sold Torres, for say, £25m, Newcastle would have flat out refused to sell Carroll for £10m. Comolli argues that:
“The whole principle is about creating value, and managing to find a player in the market who is underestimated financially compared to his stats.”
Taking a look at Liverpool’s purchases since this policy was implemented and it is fair to say that there is a mish-mash of bargains, gambles on future potential and those that appear to be justifying their price tag. About par with any other football club, then. Let’s take a closer look at the individuals.
Jose Enrique has solved Liverpool’s long-running problem at left-back since the departure of John Arne Riise at a cost of just £6m and Luis Suarez has been magnificent since his £22.8m move from Ajax – making a mockery of the those that questioned whether he’d be able to make the transition from the Eredvisie to the Premier League smoothly.
Charlie Adam looks to be a decent squad member and at £8m, he certainly delivers an end product in terms of goals and assists, but with just one-year left on his deal and at a relegated club, you’d have hoped Liverpool could have got him for fractionally cheaper. Still, while people, myself included, may have their reservations on whether he has the sufficient quality to take Liverpool forward, he looks to be a favourite of Dalglish’s in his new-look Liverpool side this season.