As the summer transfer window officially closes and clubs in Europe finally direct all their energies in the direction of the new season, the dealings of one are of particular interest. Liverpool’s transfer window activity this summer appears sensible enough to generate the usual amount of cautious optimism, although some areas remain mystifyingly unaddressed.
Some football managers will tell you that overhauls in the transfer window are the equivalent of writing a suicide note. Three or four additions are enough; sometimes cohesion and familiarity are more important than adding quality and breaking transfer records.
Nevertheless, every large-scale attempt at squad surgery in the red half of Merseyside will, and should, inevitably be compared with the summer of 1999. That year, Gerard Houllier, now in sole charge following the failure of an ill-advised joint managerial experiment with Roy Evans, effected transfer business on an ambitious and mighty scale.
The players he brought in were not superstars, but many of them left a lasting impact in their spell at Liverpool. Houllier’s business, both incomings and outgoings, were not only representative of the manager reshaping the squad in his image, but also of his ruthless severance of ties with the past, of breaking the link with the soft-centred Liverpool side of the nineties for good.
Has the Jurgen Klopp era, in turn, truly begun at Liverpool? After taking charge in October last year, the prevailing talk was that Klopp needed a full preseason and a summer transfer window of his own to bring in his own players and impose his style and methods more concretely on his existing players and the new recruits.
That has now happened, and although the consensus seems to agree that three transfer windows are the minimum time for a manager to truly build a side in their image, Klopp has at least made large strides in that direction. A total of seven senior professionals joined Liverpool this summer and thirteen major ones – who have featured for the first team in the past – left as Liverpool turned a profit this summer.