These days, Liverpool are renowned for their rigorous transfer strategy.
Fenway Sports Group, whatever your immediate thoughts on them, has set up a revolutionary way of doing business. Their detailed, data-driven approach to spotting comes with a refusal to settle or compromise, with the result that expensive flops are practically a thing of the past.
This is not seen more clearly than at the 2018 Philippe Coutinho sale, which saw them sign deals for Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Fabinho, putting in place the final pieces for a return to the top of the food chain. soccer.
Ten years ago, however, this was not the case. Far, far from it.
On January 31, 2011, the club was in ruins. FSG had just won a messy power struggle with former owners Gillett and Hicks, and inherited a team whose summer recruiting included Raul Meireles, Christian Poulsen, Brad Jones, Paul Konchesky and Milan Jovanovic.
They had just finished seventh in the Premier League and were bleeding financial losses that had increased since their last trophy, five years earlier.
It was chaos, and the turmoil was only added by a deadline day transfer triangle that definitely changed the face of the midseason window.
At the heart of it all was the move of Fernando Torres’ soap opera to Stamford Bridge. The Spanish striker had lost will at Anfield. At the time of his transfer, his teammates describe him as a shadow of himself, and this was reflected in his tentative and selfless performances.
Still, he had largely put his injury woes behind him, and after scoring nine times in 23 league appearances, Chelsea were convinced to significantly increase their bid to £ 35million and put in £ 50million for El Nino.
He joined Carlo Ancelotti’s side for one of the most expensive transfer fees in history at this stage, and by far the biggest between two English clubs.
On his way out, he met a certain Luis Suarez. Aim to tell the story of the two kissing in the parking lot as Suarez arrived from Ajax to finalize his move to Anfield – a literal passing of the torch.
It would be by far the most successful deal on the table here, but it’s a signing Liverpool would have made regardless of Torres leaving. One striker leaving meant another had to be recruited – step into a helicopter from Newcastle, carrying England football’s last golden boy.
Hours after leaving, Andy Carroll had absorbed the vast majority of Liverpool’s replenished funds, and he and Suarez were presented as the brilliant new strike force who would save Kenny Dalglish’s second spell as manager.
So far there had only been three January transfers in history that exceeded £ 20million. The three deals here did that, surpassing £ 100million in total value, and as a collective they now serve as a benchmark for clubs to avoid rather than struggle.
Each of the transfers has its own caveat. Carroll’s signing is the best example of how just being English can drive up fees at an exorbitant rate: something Damien Comolli, then Reds sporting director, alluded to in the years that followed. .
“We knew we were paying too much for Andy,” he said. ‘But he was young, he was English and at the time I told the owners that if that didn’t work we could sell him for £ 20million to West Ham, Newcastle or Aston Villa.
How would it be: Less than three years later he joined West Ham for £ 15million.
Torres was the definition of a signing without a long-term plan. He was signed simply because he was a big name in his prime, regardless of his real place. 45 goals in 172 appearances for Chelsea don’t exactly scream “flop”, but he joined AC Milan for under £ 1million a few years later, and most remembered was a blatant failure against Manchester United.
As for Suarez? The cheapest of the three transactions was by far the most successful. His time at Liverpool has earned him a reputation as one of the best players on the planet, and he’s gone further with Barcelona and now Atletico Madrid.
But even then, it seems like the kind of deal that wouldn’t come to fruition now. The warning signs of his personality finally ring true: before his release, he had bitten Branislav Ivanovic on the shoulder and had been accused of racism directed against Patrice Evra.
To this day, the Torres deal remains the eighth-biggest transfer ever in January, and it would take another six years before Oscar’s move to Shanghai Shenhua narrowly overtakes it. Carroll is still England’s seventh most expensive player, and Suarez, for all his brilliance, perseveres as the most lucrative PR puzzle in Premier League history.
January 2011 has been a lot of fun from a neutral point of view. Yet it may be for the best that we will never see anything like this again.