Gavin Nolan argues that Liverpool are taking a big risk by following Tottenham’s blueprint of bringing in a number of players after losing their marquee man.
At the start of last season, Tottenham Hotspur sold their best player, Gareth Bale, to Real Madrid for a world record fee of £85million. His performances for Spurs were nothing short of magnificent and Bale scored 26 goals in 44 games in his last season with the North London club.
That season he won the three most prestigious individual awards a player can win in the Premiership: the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, the Young Player of the Year award and the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Player of the Year award
His transfer to a giant European club was inevitable and Spurs held out for a world record fee for the Welshman. With the money burning a hole in Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy’s pocket, the plan to replace Bale began. But instead of just buying a direct like-for-like replacement, Spurs decided to use the money to improve the whole team and bring a whole host of new players.
Fast forward 10 months and it looks like history has repeated itself. The star player of a major English team and the current holder of the three previously mentioned awards has been lured to a major Spanish club for a massive fee. Again the club has decided to use that money to reinforce the whole team and bring in several new players.
Liverpool have followed Tottenham’s footsteps by already signing six players after they sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona. In theory this is a good idea, use the money from the sale of one star player to fund the purchase of many other players to improve the club.
But as is the case with many theories, when put into practice the results can be unpredictable.
When selling a huge player like Suarez or Bale, the club’s supporters will look for the money from the sales to be reinvested back into team through the purchasing of players. So there is great pressure on the club to bring in players to replace the recent departures quickly. This can lead to panic buys of players without the proper research being put into these players.
The huge fees paid for Bale and Suarez allow other clubs to increase the valuation of their players because they know that Liverpool and Spurs have the money to match their asking price.
Also when bringing a player to a new club and/or a new league, it is going to take that player a bit of time to adapt. They have to cope with the new style of play, new teammates and manager, maybe even a new culture and language. So when several new players are brought into a club in a short amount of time, the problem is multiplied as there are many changes happening for them.
All of these problems have been experienced by Tottenham in the last 12 months. They brought in seven new players (of which they spent £105millon on) with the money they received from Bale’s sale. Of all of them only Christian Eriksen could honestly say he had a good season. The rest were very poor, leading manager Tim Sherwood to bring striker Emmanuel Adebayor back in from the cold and to regularly play youth players Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb.
The three biggest disappointments were Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela and Etienne Capoue, who cost a combined total of £61million but only contributed 7 goals in 49 appearances between them (six of those goals coming from Soldado). There were simply too many changes at the club too quickly which led to Spurs having an extremely bad season.
Liverpool have bought six players so far and spent £89million on transfers. The Merseyside club has at least differed from Spurs’ approach in the fact that three of their new recruits – Adam Lalana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren – have some Premier League experience. The other three are more along the lines of Tottenham’s signings last season. Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Divock Origi are not well known among the football world, but Liverpool still justified spending £40million on the trio.
Origi is the most surprising transfer as before he has only scored six goals for Lille in 40 appearances and didn’t exactly set the World Cup on fire with one goal in five appearances. But Liverpool still paid £10million for the unproven teenager.
The result of Tottenham’s spending was clear for all to see with their rather desperate performances at times last season. Their attempts to replace Gareth Bale actually set the club back a year in their development and Liverpool could be going down the same path. Liverpool needed to strengthen after securing qualification for the Champions League this season but some of their signings could be in reaction to losing their star player. With a month left in the transfer window, they could panic buy a few more players.
Gavin Nolan, Pundit Arena.