Outside of Luis Suarez, Liverpool’s recent acquisitions have been a mixture of disappointment and downright catastrophe.
Now, we are all well aware of the recruits that have failed to deliver but if we think in terms of value for money, there is a complete mismatch in terms of sums spent and the calibre of player brought in.
For example, we sold Javier Mascherano, who at the time was rated as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, for £18m and we have recently bought Joe Allen for £15m. Now I am not about to argue that Joe Allen’s price was not a fair price or even that he has not been value for money but I will argue that there is no way that there is only £3m between the value of Mascherano at that point, and Allen when we bought him. One had played in the Champions League Final and was sought after by Barcelona, the other had played one season in the Premier League.
The reason I choose these two is not because I have an issue with Allen, it is because he has actually performed in a red shirt and he can be delicately contrasted to another Liverpool midfielder by the name of Nuri Sahin.
Sahin is a player of repute who had been bought for big money by Real Madrid and could have moved for a hefty fee to Anfield had we decided to purchase him. Now, I actually believe that Sahin is a talented footballer who will improve as he gets accustomed to the Premier League and may well prove to be a great asset to our squad. However, if we had bought him outright and my premonitions were not to come true, we would be in all too familiar position: Another player, proven to be unsuccessful with a big price tag and a big wage waiting to be binned off for a small fee and at great expense.
Some fans I spoke to said that paying for Sahin on loan was a bad deal when we signed him. If he’s good, the theory was that Madrid would ask for more money, other teams would be interested and we could lose him all together.
I was of a much more pragmatic approach. My reason for it being a good deal was threefold.
Firstly, if his performances were outstanding, then our team would do better and he could help us deliver top 4 and a berth in the Champions League. Consequently, we would be a more attractive proposition and he would probably prefer to stay at a club where he is doing well than risk moving somewhere else, what with his galling Madrid experience still fresh in the memory. Equally, if we had to pay a little more, wouldn’t it be better to pay for someone who has already proven themselves in a red shirt than gamble on an unknown quantity?
Secondly, if he was bad, we wouldn’t own him outright, could shift his wage off the club and wash our hands of another transfer that failed to deliver. We would not have to look for a buyer, take a hit on a huge fee and struggle to recoup the vast riches we had lavished to get him to L4.
Finally, if he was average to good, then his price tag wouldn’t change much and we could make an informed decision on whether he was an asset worth paying for or whether we could find an adequate replacement at a cheaper price.
This is the great advantage of the loan market and it’s why these deals make sense for Liverpool at the moment. All too often we have been burned with expensive flops and a try before we buy attitude is a good way to avoid as many costly transfer nightmares.
Of course, Falcao, Ronaldo and Messi aren’t going to be available on loan any time soon but good additions are often available for loan. The likes of Robinho, Ibrahimovic, Adebayor and Anelka have all been available on loan at points in their careers where they were already respected names. While it is accepted that the big money buys who have failed for Liverpool would not have been available on loan, that’s not to say that purchasing those individuals was a necessity. Most of those signings were risky and based on “potential” and while there is always a risk with any signings, when it comes to big money I’d much prefer to see it spent on more established players.
So while you are not likely to get other teams’ most heralded icon on loan, it’s worth being wary that one man’s icon is another man’s Veron. And with Liverpool at a stage where we cannot afford to make another big mistake, we should remember that a loan can never end in as much as a calamity for the beneficiary club. The player either works out or he doesn’t and any financial penalty for the failed experiment is minimal when compared to the colossal hits Liverpool have taken on Aquilani, probably Carroll and most likely Downing too.
There is obviously a difference between paying to buy another team’s prized possession and taking another team’s cast off on loan and obviously not all of our business can be done in loans. The point is that sometimes high quality footballers are available on loan and perhaps it is worth testing the water rather than diving in and splashing the cash.
Of course, the more pertinent question to ask is ‘how did the scouting department identify so many bad signings?’ and that is something which requires great interrogation and may well shed light on the true problems at LFC, but that is for another day.
In the meantime, sign me up for a few loan deals and let’s save up our cash for Messi et al.
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