Liverpool left themselves in a position where a three-year rebuild had to be carried out in three months, yet still they waste time before the season starts.
As Liverpool prepare to start their Premier League campaign away at Chelsea this Sunday, there is a feeling of uncertainty on Merseyside.
It’s been a summer of great change as Jurgen Klopp looks to bounce back from the disappointment of last season, kickstart a new era at the club and build his second great Reds team.
The vast majority of that change has centred around the middle of the team, with the midfield undergoing a much-needed revamp. But is it all too much too soon? Too much at once? Or even a case of too little too late?
Six midfielders have left and just two have arrived to date, with surely more to come.
Granted, all of those players probably needed to leave, while Fabio Carvalho is only on loan at Leipzig. Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are the possible exceptions, and even then, the former’s form fell off a cliff last season and the latter is 33.
The Saudi money was too good to turn down for both club and Henderson in particular, whose apparent moral compass and support of the LGBTQ+ community took a shameful backseat to the Riyals on offer.
You’ll never walk alone – unless bank accounts can be bolstered even further.
Outside of the obvious hypocrisy, what it means is that Liverpool find themselves without a specialised central defensive midfielder approaching a pivotal season, their first outside the Champions League since Klopp’s arrival.
It asks serious questions of all parties involved, including the manager himself, who seemed content to sanction a January move for Cody Gakpo when the midfield was crying out for reinforcements.
Greater responsibility, of course, lies with those above him, with FSG and the club’s recruitment being slammed by Jamie Carragher on Monday in light of a third failed bid for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia.
This is embarrassing.
Liverpool for years now have got deals done quickly with no fuss.
If you don’t think he’s worth 50M move on, if you really want him pay it.
Also not sure why LFC aren’t in for Caicedo, yes it’s a lot of money but Liverpool got big money for JH/FAB 🤷♂️ https://t.co/nNP05udQP8
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 7, 2023
The supposed promise of loosened purse strings has not been fulfilled as yet and has led to even further goodwill lost for the Americans, who it must be said have done far more good than bad since buying the club, especially considering the state they inherited it in 2010.
Saving the club from near administration, redeveloping Anfield and Melwood and putting the club on the path to success is all well and good but those foundations must be continued and built on, with one Premier League title in 33 years simply nowhere near good enough.
Rumours and murmurs of a sale or part-investment don’t inspire confidence but Manchester United are in a similar boat and are still backing their manager this summer.
That lower level of total spending, excellent selling and the much fabled ‘net spend’ led to success because of Klopp and the other men hired by John W. Henry and co, but Michael Edwards is long gone and his heir Julian Ward lasted just one season before flying the coop.
A close contact of Klopp, Jorg Schmadtke, has now assumed the role but it all points towards a club operating well below their previous levels.
As does their transfer business, or lack thereof. As noted, Lavia has not arrived yet, and Carragher is right in his assertion that you either stump or the cash or move on with the season so close. The Belgian would likely re-join City next summer when their buyback kicks in if he’s not signed.
This follows on from the year-long unsuccessful wait for Jude Bellingham and the decision to loan an injured Arthur when Aurelien Tchouameni also decided to join Real Madrid last summer.
Plan A? Yes. Anything else after that? Seemingly not, and it saw a season thrown away.
Side questions: How crazy is modern football that a Championship midfielder’s transfer fee is £50m? And is Arthur the worst signing of the entire Klopp era?
It is a million miles away from the sleek, subtle movements of before when Liverpool transfers dropped out of nowhere and were not played out on social media as is the case with Lavia.
The Reds will almost certainly head to Stamford Bridge without him, and even if he joins, he will have missed a full pre-season, one in which Klopp could have got him, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai in tune as much as possible. The pressure on the two new boys has been unfairly amplified.
Not to mention Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new hybrid role and where it comes into play.
If you are going to attempt a rebuild that would usually take place over two to three years in two to three months, at least give the manager what he wants as early as possible. Has this type of instant revamp and rebuild ever happened at a big club before? It smacks of terrible planning.
Curtis Jones will most likely line up as the sitter on Sunday, but he’s barely played there at a high level, and was exposed in the 4-3 friendly loss to Bayern Munich.
Other options are Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic, two Spaniards at opposite ends of their careers, both of whom have been injured all summer. Sadly for the Reds, Thiago’s body will not hold up to the rigours of a full season. But that was known when he joined.
Solace can be found with Chelsea having even less of a midfield as things stand, but the luck might run out after Sunday during a tricky start to the campaign.
Klopp didn’t build a second great team at Mainz or, more importantly, Borussia Dortmund due to reasons outside of his control. Are Liverpool, and chiefly their recruitment, going to do the same to him?