Liverpool: Forget A £25 Marquee Signing & Find Three More Coutinhos

Doubts might persist that FSG are holding onto the cash and bidding for people we can't get, but I believe it's more a case of we can't offer those players what they need in a World Cup year, so the onus is on the scouting department to find more £8m magicians...
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Doubts might persist that FSG are holding onto the cash and bidding for people we can't get, but I believe it's more a case of we can't offer those players what they need in a World Cup year, so the onus is on the scouting department to find more £8m magicians...

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Right. We need to sort out a few issues again by the looks of it.

It wouldn't be Liverpool if there weren't some concerns going into an otherwise concern-less start to the season would it? I'm not worried about what's going on on the pitch itself; Saturday's opener against Stoke coupled with the form shown in the second half of last season shows enough promise to keep us going for a while and this season's signings to date look as though they will fit nicely into Rodgers' plans.

No, my concerns are off the pitch and with the players that we're not signing.

It appears from comments in Brendan Rodgers' pre-Villa game press conference that owners FSG pulled the plug on any possibility of a deal for Willian when Spurs placed a bid that went above our valuation. "It's the owners' money and they have the final say because it's they who run the club" he said before lamenting that "this was a player who would have been perfect for us."

Leaving aside the fact that Willian had clearly used our initial interest as a stalking horse to draw attention from Champions League sides and that our disappointment may be somewhat leavened by the fact that we're losing the Anzhi player not to Spurs but to Chelsea there is a concern that our owners aren't really prepared to spend on the team.

The theory is that they have broken even over the period of their tenure at Anfield. That their overall spend cones in somewhere around the £5 million mark. That we are currently in a position where our owners are deliberately bidding for players that we have no chance of getting in order to look as though they mean business but can safely avoid any expenditure.

FSG's net spend as of the beginning of this window was £70m and yes, large swathes of this are accounted for by the £20m loss on Andy Carroll and the £15m thrown away on Stewart Downing, both of whose incoming transfer fees fall into this window and mean that we currently stand at a profit of £5m with 10 days of the window remaining.

10 days, four impressive signings already and a loanee left back just arrived but few remaining targets readily apparent. Are FSG hastily tying up the purse strings?

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I don't think so. It seems apparent that their business plan is to spend a net £35m per year and the summer long pursuit of targets hitting the £25m-£30m adds to that impression. My worry isn't that FSG aren't prepared to spend at all, my worry is that we are all (owners, club, fans, all of us) far too obsessed with the idea of a 'marquee signing'; obsessed with the need for a big name arrival.

My worry is that we're obviously currently unable to attract these players but that our name and our interest still carry enough cachet to alert others to availability of class players or to convince their current employers that they're worth a little bit more.

Obviously we're not daft enough to go for the really huge signings. If we were putting in bids for Lewandowski or Navas or Isco or Bale or even Rooney then it would be obvious that either our owners or our manager were aiming far above their limits.

We're not. We're aiming for that rung slightly below; the players that United, City, PSG, Barca, Real etc aren't paying attention to but failing to attract even these.

Henrikh Mykhitaryan? All indications where that he favoured a move. Dortmund arrive. Beaten Champions League finalists, Champions League football again this season, the chance to work for Jurgen Klopp or a team that can offer midweek Carling Cup ties? It's not a competition really.

Diego Costa? We move from an attacking midfielder to a big centre forward. The result? Said big centre forward gets an improved contract at Atletico.

Willian? Covered above.

But each of these transfer sagas have one common denominator; we were the first club to be linked with the player. It's obvious that our transfer committee is doing it's job. Very well. Too well. Spurs have previous for watching our scouting system identify players before swooping for them but it seems now that the tactic is spreading worldwide.

We have a problem. That problem is that, in a World Cup year, we can't provide players with exposure at the highest level. We can't affect this. We need to finish in the top four, we need European football in order to attract better players but we need better players in order to enhance our chances of a top four finish.

The solution? Take the £30m that we seemingly have to spend and carry on with the process that appears to be working for us at the moment; target the skilful, hungry players that haven't had the chance to show what they can do so far at their current clubs and provide them with the chance to build something.

Philippe Coutinho cost £8m. Forget the marquee signings. Find three more Coutinhos.

No pressure.