COMMENT By Dominic Toner
Liverpool have confirmed the signings of three senior players this summer in Loris Karius, Joël Matip and Marko Grujic. They are aged 23, 24 and 20 respectively.
The confirmed trio have cost the Merseyside outfit a relatively puny £10million in total – as three broad themes develop.
In the last two windows Liverpool recruited Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, Steven Caulker (oan) and Christian Benteke, all of whom were under the age of 25. The only exceptions to this buy-them-young policy were free transfers James Milner and Adam Bogdan.
It appears that Liverpool’s American owners will continue with their policy of avoiding the more expensive section of the transfer market and avoid shelling out on the kind of marquee signing that many feel the club are so desperately calling out for.
So far this summer, the club have been most strongly linked with Leicester teenager Ben Chilwell, Southampton’s Sadio Mané, Udinese midfielder Piotr Zielinski and Germany’s World Cup hero Mario Götze, none of which are older than 24.
Liverpool have a plan. But it is a cheap one. The club are concentrating on signing players who have three things in common – they are young, have the potential to improve and develop, and, critically for owners with the eye firmly on the bottom line, have expected sell-on value.
There seems to be a risk with the approach of only signing youngsters, a risk that as of yet is not paying off for, to miss out on European football altogether is regarded as little short of travesty for a club with Liverpool’s history and prestige.
Having lost to Sevilla 3-1 in the Europa league final in May, they will have to focus on domestic football next season, which gives them a chance to replicate their form of the 2013-14 season where they finished 2nd with no distraction of Europe.
The current crop of Karius, Matip and Grujic are exciting prospects and will be hoping they can make their breakthrough at giants Liverpool and see the club return to Europe the following season.
Liverpool will be hoping that one of their youngsters can fulfil their maximum potential and they can reap the rewards in the transfer market, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Firmino are showing the kind of level that these signings can reach.