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There’s a common train of thought in football which suggest clubs need to spend big money if they want to improve. People seem to be against the idea that there are still bargains out there if you look hard enough. How the success of a season hinges on your netspend being in the red as opposed to being in the green. But it’s a myth.
There appeared to be unrest amongst Liverpool fans after the summer transfer window shut. Liverpool finished in profit having sold off a lot of deadwood/squad players. The midfield seemed to be the big talking point. Why didn’t the club break the bank to land Gladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud? How was a midfield made up of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Kevin Stewart and James Milner good enough for top 4? Not when Arsenal had spent £35 million on Granit Xhaka, Chelsea spent the same amount on Ngolo Kante, Manchester City paid £20 million for Ilkay Gundogan and Manchester United paid a world record £89 million for Paul Pogba.
Some fans claimed owners FSG weren’t backing Klopp. After all, United had just spent £150 million to bring in the aforementioned Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly. On paper they were all upgrades on who they already had in their squad.
It appeared as though Klopp’s coaching ability had been overlooked. It was part of the reason so many Liverpool fans wanted him when Brendan Rodgers was sacked. The Germans ability to develop players. He turned Adam Lallana, an attacking midfielder, into an influential box-to-box midfielder who many believe has been the team's player of the season so far. New signing Gini Wijnaldum, a versatile midfielder known for his performances on the left of a three behind the striker, was transformed into a box-to-box midfielder as Klopp made the most of the former Newcastle man’s ability to be constantly on the half-turn to carry the ball forward in tight spaces.
Jordan Henderson, who excelled as a box-to-box midfielder in the 2013/14 season had his position tweaked as Klopp deployed him in a deeper role to make the most of his high energy to cover a lot of ground as well as his ability on the ball. Emre Can returned from injury and many expected him to play the deeper role, one he made his own last season, but Klopp has unleashed him, positioned him in a more advanced position and told him to support the attack. He responded with 2 goals in 2 matches.
What originally looked like a questionable area of the Liverpool squad now looked strong and this translated into their performances on the pitch as the Reds started to dominate the middle of the pitch. The team looks infinitely better in midfield and they only spent £25 million on Gini Wijnaldum in the summer.
Then there’s the arrivals of Joel Matip and Loris Karius. The latter hasn’t had much to do as of yet because the players ahead of him been formidable. The former Mainz ‘keeper cost less than £5 million though and it’s hard to see a problem with that. But Joel Matip has been the signing of the season and is in contention to be Liverpool’s shrewdest ever buy.
The former Schalke man arrived on a free transfer and immediately looked right at home in the heart of the Liverpool defence. He’s hardly put a foot wrong since signing and he’s integral to Liverpool as they look to play out from the back. His marauding runs from deep cause all kinds of problems for the opposition too. Other than his wages and signing on fee Matip cost nothing.
Matip’s signing is even more remarkable when you consider Arsenal (Mustafi), Manchester City (Stones), Manchester United (Bailly) and Chelsea (Luiz) all spent £30 million or more on centre-backs in the summer.
If reports are to be believed Liverpool were interested in Naby Keita in the summer. The midfielder signed for Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig in the summer for £12 million and is arguably the most complete all-round midfielder in the Bundesliga. According to the player's agent, Liverpool wanted the Guinean International but he opted for RB Leipzig for guaranteed first-team football to continue his development. Had Liverpool been able to promise him that he would have been yet another Jurgen Klopp/Liverpool recruitment team bargain.
This summer Klopp and the Liverpool recruitment team made a mockery of those claiming you need to spend big if you want to improve. If the recruitment team and the manager are on the same page there are bargains to be had.