With a network of scouts across the globe, data analysts crunching the numbers and a crack recruitment team lowering the targets, the importance of signing the right players has never been more apparent for Liverpool.
However, there is another aspect of transfer business that is often overlooked but almost as important, which assumes increasing value after a potentially seismic few days in the summer window.
Knowing the right time to cash in on a player.
Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff may soon be grappling with such a conundrum given the reported interest of the Saudi Pro League in midfielders Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho and, most persistently, captain Jordan Henderson.
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As things stand, Liverpool have not received any formal expressions of interest from any club, with Al Ittihad reportedly wanting Fabinho, while Henderson is among several clubs a target for Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq.
However, that could soon change given the continued links coming out of Saudi Arabia with the league, which has already splashed hundreds of millions on acquiring talent from Europe in a bid to strengthen its position on the global stage.
Sometimes, as with Phillipe Coutinho, when Barcelona came knocking in more than five years, the offer for a player is simply too good to resist. On other occasions, a move has simply not worked out – such as Christian Benteke after Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers in 2015/16 – and an exit is comfortable for both parties. The harder part, though, is determining when the best has been extracted from a player and his departure would ultimately be beneficial, either directly or indirectly.
Liverpool’s sustained success throughout the 1970s and 1980s was greatly aided by deriving the correct time to move players on and continue to develop the team, Bob Paisley in particular a master of renewal and rejuvenation.
Manchester United resembled their heyday in the early Premier League era, regularly raising eyebrows by sending out established stars who were still performing in their prime but were still capable of claiming silverware, often with a improved team.
Klopp – not entirely without foundation – has at times been accused of showing too much loyalty to his players, although such faith in individuals and the collective has been the basis of the silverware that has come during his tenure, a perceived weakness actually a strength.
Indeed, a ruthless streak has been demonstrated in the past, particularly earlier in his tenure when the likes of Mamadou Sakho were moved on, but breaking up the squad in his first major Liverpool team is proving to be a more gradual process for Klopp. And given the subsequent experiences of – for example – Gini Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane, Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino, few can argue that the contribution to any of their respective new teams has matched what they delivered at Anfield, the Reds called it right. by letting them go when they did.
So to the speculation surrounding the current midfield trio, each case having its own merits. Liverpool would have a big decision to make if the proposed £40million bid for Fabinho were to materialize as it would almost match their outlay to sign him five years ago. The Brazilian, now 29, improved in the closing weeks of last season but overall it was a deeply disappointing campaign that at one point saw him behind teenager Stefan Bajcetic in the midfield pecking order.
The Reds would prefer not to lose Henderson, such is his vast experience and strong influence after 12 years at the club, although he can expect fewer minutes on the pitch this season. Should a £20m bid come for a player now 33, Liverpool could see it as a useful investment in the next generation of midfielders.
Thiago, meanwhile, has the complication that, despite his undoubted talent, he is in the final year of his contract and has unfortunately proved susceptible to injury during his time at Liverpool. That the Reds would listen to reasonable offers – while more than happy to keep him for the remainder of his deal – shows that the long-term future will not involve the Spaniard.
The need for numbers and experience means Liverpool cannot afford to let them all go. But moving for the right player at the right time will be crucial to what happens with Klopp and his midfield after this summer’s transfer window.