FootballPremier League

Are Liverpool making the same transfer market mistakes Man City made in previous summers as champions?

August 11, 2020

IN years to come, Liverpool’s Premier League-winning side of the 2019/20 season will be recalled position-by-position like many of the great teams to have played the game through the years. More than just Manchester United fans, for instance, can ring off the club’s Treble-winning side of 1999 and it will be similar for the group of players that ended Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a league title.

From front to back, left to right there is a classic quality to Klopp’s favoured starting lineup. There are few positions, if any, they are not among the strongest in the Premier League in and so it’s difficult to pinpoint where the Reds could strengthen in this summer’s transfer window. There is no obvious problem area.

Premier League champions who stand still tend to get caught. Manchester City have been guilty of this in recent years, with the best such case study coming in the summer of 2012 after the club had won their first ever Premier League title. Rather than attempting to further strengthen their starting lineup, City tried to add depth, allowing Manchester United to leapfrog them the following season.

Javi Garcia, Matija Nastisic, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair all arrived at the Etihad Stadium for a combined £55 million while United signed Robin Van Persie. In attempting to add depth to their squad, Manchester City only succeeded in adding deadwood that took them a number of seasons to clear from the deck. 

It was a similar story in the summer of 2014 when, as Premier League champions, City signed Wilfried Bony, Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard on loan for the second half of the season. This, just like in 2012, opened the door for rivals to catch up, with Chelsea winning the title the following season as City once again ended up with a bloated squad.

While Liverpool have been linked with top targets like Thiago Alcantara, who reportedly wants to leave Bayern Munich, and Timo Werner, who ultimately joined Chelsea, it seems that they are doing their shopping at a lower level this summer, with Kostas Tsimikas signed from Olympiacos for a fee of around £11.75 million on Monday.

The idea is that Tsimikas will provide competition and cover for Andy Robertson at left back, with the Greece international targeted after the Anfield club failed with a £10m bid for Norwich City’s Jamal Lewis last week. Liverpool are now expected to sign a new centre back following the exit of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg.

But rather than target an elite level talent to partner Virgil Van Dijk and strengthen them further, Liverpool are seemingly searching for depth rather than a first team starter. Real Betis Aissa Mandi has been mentioned as a potential addition, with the 28-year-old believed to be available for around £11 million, while Brighton Ben White is also reportedly on the Reds’ radar after impressing on loan at Leeds United.

There would be some logic behind these moves, but the primary benefit of any additional depth will be felt in competitions like the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, where Liverpool found themselves stretched last season. Tsimikas, along with a new centre back of the calibre of Mandi or White, will do little to extend Liverpool’s advantage at the top of the Premier League, though.

Of course, Liverpool have a track record of finding transfer market gems – see Robertson and Mohamed Salah. A big transfer fee isn’t always indicative of a good signing, but the Reds are now the hunted rather than the hunters, with rivals such as Chelsea and City already making moves to close the gap on Klopp’s side. They must attempt to more than just hold their ground.