As Liverpool prepare to tie up the transfer of Loic Remy from Queens Park Rangers this week (per Dominic King of the Daily Mail), the French striker would join Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert as the Reds’ attacking signings this summer.
Outside of the forward positions, Emre Can is Brendan Rodgers’ sole midfield signing so far, while Dejan Lovren will reportedly be the first defensive arrival at Anfield this summer, according to Alan Smith of The Guardian.
Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona has left Liverpool with a considerable void to fill up front given that the former No. 7 scored a runaway Premier League-high tally of 31 goals last season. But considering the number of goals that the Reds defence leaked last season, surely strengthening their defence is more important than replacing Suarez up front.
But fear not, Reds fans: While Rodgers has clearly earmarked his forward positions as a key priority area, the deficiencies in his defence will not be forgotten by the manager.
Rather, it’s because of three reasons—Liverpool’s transfer principles, the market at large and the all-important factor of timing—that they haven’t yet addressed their defensive needs this summer.
A Principled Transfer Approach
If Liverpool fans needed any indication of John W. Henry and Fenway Sports Group’s commitment to the Reds' cause, their owners’ stance regarding Luis Suarez’s public flirtations with Arsenal last summer should’ve been proof enough.
But more impressive were their actions in the aftermath of the public embarrassments to ensure that a situation like that would never happen again. According to BBC Sport’s Ben Smith, the Liverpool hierarchy improved Suarez’s contract but also made sure that it ultimately would wrestle back control of its star striker’s destiny.
And the rest is history:
It was clever business by the club. They have secured a record fee for a player who will turn 28 this season—and has the remainder of a four-month ban to serve—and secured a vast sum of money for a striker who has always longed to play in Spain. It is a deal that suits all parties.
So while Brendan Rodgers’ hotly reported pursuit of Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno and Southampton center-back Dejan Lovren continue to rumble on (per the Liverpool Echo), Reds fans who may be disillusioned with the club’s strong stance and refusal to budge from their valuation will know that it was the reverse that applied when it came to Suarez last season.
The fact that they have already secured the potentially shrewd signings of Lambert and Can and appear to be on track with Remy, all on relatively low-price deals, is in an indication that this prudent and principled approach to transfers should stand the club in good stead in the long run.
Lack of Movement in the Market
As we’re almost halfway through the summer transfer market, the biggest transfers this off-season have been centered on forwards, the most high-profile of all being Barcelona’s signing of Suarez and Real Madrid’s signing of James Rodriguez.
Barring David Luiz’s big-money transfer from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, this has been a largely stagnant transfer market for top clubs when it comes to defenders. Even the likes of Mehdi Benatia (via Jamie Anderson of the Daily Express) and Eliaquim Mangala (the Daily Mail), long rumored to be on the move this summer, are still with their current clubs and featuring in drawn-out transfer sagas.
Closer to home, the Premier League has been awash with midfield and forward signings so far, but transfers involving defensive players have been few and far between other than Ashley Cole’s free transfer to AS Roma and Patrice Evra’s move to Juventus.
And who can blame them? In a transfer market arguably at its all-time inflated high, especially after the World Cup, the sums thrown around aren’t exactly easy change, even for those clubs who are financially equipped to finance such deals. Jurgen Klopp’s reported public dismissal of a £15.8 million bid from Manchester United for Mats Hummels, according to the The Guardian, is an indication that hype and hysteria have hit even the more unglamorous positions on a football pitch.
Given the presence of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho as first-team defensive options for Liverpool, it would take a seasoned defender or a top young prospect to represent attainable upgrades in the back line, and players of that stature will not be let go so easily.
It’s Just a Matter of Time
So beyond the possibility of this stalemate to be solved financially, it’s far likelier that time will heal all wounds, and that sooner or later big movement will hit the defensive positions in the transfer market.
Lovren’s signing for a reported £16 million would represent a major move in the market and might yet kickstart a chain reaction that leads to more news and happenings in the remaining month or so of the summer window.
With all the complicated elements and complex negotiations that are involved in modern-day transfers, even Rodgers himself will be keen to stress the importance of patience in securing a player’s signature. Far more important is the quality of the prospective defender and the role he will play at Anfield. (Lovren’s suitability should, of course, be the subject of another discussion.)
From a Liverpool standpoint, despite their clear issues at the back, perhaps filling a Suarez-sized hole up front might be higher on their list of priorities. By sealing Remy’s signature to add to the sizeable contingent of attacking signings, it may finally be time to look at the back.
And the rumors have already started to this tune. Besides the drawn-out sagas involving Lovren and Moreno, Liverpool are reportedly near the loan signing of Atletico Madrid’s young right-back Javier Manquillo (per Andy Hunter of The Guardian), while rumors linking Manchester City’s Micah Richards with a move to Anfield have once again resurfaced (per James Nursey of the Mirror).
Complete even two of the rumored signings, and the pendulum will well and truly swing the back four’s way. And then it’s to other areas of the team that Rodgers will go next.
It’s all part of the dance.