herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Liverpool need books in order before they buy

Roy Hodgson will not target any trophy signings in the January transfer window as Liverpool's new owner, New England Sports Ventures, looks to put a stop to the profligate spending which it believes has hampered the club's progress in recent years.

NESV is believed to have been concerned by the millions of pounds haemorrhaged on transfer fees and wages by the club as it examined Liverpool's finances as part of the due diligence process carried out before the £300m purchase of the Anfield side was completed.

Under former manager Rafael Benitez, Liverpool spent more than £230m in six years on fees alone, while the purchases of the likes of Raul Meireles, Christian Poulsen, Brad Jones and Paul Konchesky totalled £25m in Hodgson's first summer at the club.



Value

NESV's takeover freed up £36m a year on revenue -- money that had previously been used to service Liverpool's £282m debts -- to be reinvested in the club.

Although its offer also made provisions for an immediate injection of funds into the playing staff, the American consortium has made it clear it expects value for money, both from fees and salaries.

"We have to be smart," said NESV's principal backer, John W Henry, who will assume a place on Liverpool's board. "We have to be more efficient. When we spend a dollar it has to be wisely. We cannot afford player contracts that do not make long-term sense. We have to be smart, bold, aggressive. It's a great challenge."

Henry will take an active role in football matters at Anfield, assessing Hodgson's suggested transfer targets and setting budgets for contract renegotiations of players already at the club. The 61-year-old has already expressed his concern at the wages earned by older players on long-term, high-value contracts.

The club's recent scouting activity suggests it intends to follow the Arsenal model or, perhaps more pertinently, institute on an informal basis the transfer policy employed at Manchester United, where premium fees are only paid for younger players with resale potential.



Trimming

Hodgson will not be allowed to add any players, though, without first trimming the squad.

Liverpool boast the fourth-highest wage bill in the Premier League -- which stood at £107m in 2009 -- but find themselves marooned in 18th place in the table this season.

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