IT is often said that money talks in football and Liverpool’s new manager and current number 9 are surely all too aware of this. Brendan Rodgers has seemingly been forced into taking a decision on Andy Carroll’s future before even seeing him in action as Liverpool manager.
Through no fault of either manager of player, the striker’s location for the coming season appears to be being dictated primarily by his £35m transfer fee and current market value, rather than his talent or his new manager’s opinion of him as a footballer. This situation is of Damien Comolli’s making.
His negotiating of the deal to bring Carroll to Liverpool 18 months ago means that time, patience and assessment of the player are not options currently available to Liverpool’s new manager. Comolli’s poor dealings during his time at Liverpool continue to have far reaching consequences and the people suffering from his mistakes (particularly Brendan Rodgers and Andy Carroll) are now in undesirable positions as a result of the Frenchman’s poor performance in the transfer market.
Rodgers has talked about assessing his squad since the moment he took charge at Anfield, but the media speculation surrounding Carroll (and fuelled off the record by the club) over the past month suggests that the big number 9 was not included in this approach. Carroll’s impressive end to the season and subsequent performances at Euro 2012 have seen his market value increase after a hitherto dismal time since January 2011. The problem is that his value, while improved recently, is still so far short of the incredible amount that Liverpool paid for his services that a sale this summer would still bring with it an eye watering financial hit on a player whose best days surely lay ahead of him. Rodgers was faced with the task of deciding whether to sell the striker while his value is relatively high now or gamble on keeping him and hoping he improves even further. He seems to have chosen the first option.
The problem isn’t that Carroll is a bad player or that Rodgers has hastily decided that he wouldn’t like the chance to try and integrate Carroll into his team. The problem is that Damien Comolli overpaid on Carroll to such an irresponsible level that recouping any decent amount of money on the player now has to be considered. Indeed, if Andy Carroll had been acquired for ‘just’ £18m, his future at Liverpool would probably be assured right now.
Rodgers would be assessing him during pre-season and would more than likely give the Geordie target man opportunities over the coming season to prove his worth. It is obvious that significant talent lies within Carroll and it would be churlish to suggest that Rodgers wouldn’t relish the opportunity of extracting and enhancing that talent. The problem is that Carroll’s potential integration into the new managers system would likely require time and it is not guaranteed to be successful. If Carroll stays he may not be a regular starter under Rodgers and therein lies the main reason for his impending exit. How do you keep a £35m player at the club if he isn’t a guaranteed starter?
If further proof of Comolli’s dealing being a significant factor in the future of Carroll is needed we only need to look to another of Comolli’s expensive English signings. Stewart Downing showed far less promise last season than Carroll did but his future at Liverpool is under little scrutiny at this moment, not because of his ability to be an effective player for the club, but because any fee Liverpool would receive for his services this summer would be negligible given his age and form.
Indeed, if Carroll hadn’t demonstrated such an obvious improvement at the back end of the 2011/12 season his future at Liverpool would likely be as secure as Downing’s as his value would also be so low that selling him wouldn’t be worthwhile. It is ironic that Liverpool have to seriously consider selling a young striker in hot form rather than an out of sorts, ageing winger primarily because of the prices paid by Comolli and their current market value.
If and when Carroll moves on from Merseyside this summer he should feel a sense of injustice and disgruntlement, not towards the manager who will have moved him on, but to the man who brought him to Liverpool for such a ridiculously inflated fee. Damien Comolli has a lot to answer for. The money that he wasted during his time at Liverpool continues to talk loudly.
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