Liverpool don't have to shop at the outlet mall anymore. Without trying to sound too patronizing toward Ryan Bertrand, the Reds should hold themselves to a higher standard in the transfer market.
The Reds turned their attentions back to the 24-year-old England defender after missing out on Swansea City's Ben Davies, who has joined Tottenham for £10million.
Brendan Rodgers had initially targeted Sevilla's Alberto Moreno as the ideal addition to his defensive options but after lengthy negotiations the clubs failed to reach an agreement.
With the La Liga outfit demanding in excess of £20million for the young Spain international, Liverpool have decided to look elsewhere for a left-back.
"You only spend the money if the players are there," Brendan Rodgers said, per Chris McKenna of Express. "The good thing with the owners is the money is there if the right players are available. What we can’t do is spend for the sake of it."
On the face of it, buying Bertrand appears to contradict what Rodgers said the club can't do. Adding another left-back would be nice, and the Reds have the money to afford the 24-year-old, but that doesn't mean they should pull the trigger on the transfer.
The one positive about this deal is that his availability isn't much in doubt.
Speaking in March, Jose Mourinho spoke about Bertrand playing a role at Stamford Bridge once his loan deal at Aston Villa expired.
"He has a future at Chelsea," Mourinho said, per Pete O'Rourke of Sky Sports. "A future and a past. Of course he has a future. The decision to let him go to Villa was good because he's playing and what he needed was to play every game. But maybe next season he is with us."
With the transfer of Filipe Luis to Chelsea, though, Bertrand's future at the club looks bleak.
According to Pearce, the Reds offered £8 million, but Chelsea were hesitant to sell to a direct Premier League rival.
That seems like a lot of money to spend on a player who's appeared in 119 Championship matches compared to 44 in the Premier League, per Transfermarkt. And if that's the starting point, things will only get more out of hand price-wise.
In those 44 EPL appearances, Bertrand hasn't set the world ablaze, either. WhoScored.com gave him a rating of 6.43 for his 16 matches with Aston Villa on loan last year. In the 2012/13 season with Chelsea, he was only marginally better, garnering a 6.46 rating.
Bertrand's WhoScored.com player page is extremely harsh, giving him no strengths and listing crossing, passing and defensive distribution as his weaknesses.
As former BBC Radio presenter Jonathan Joseph tweeted out, Bertrand isn't a terrible footballer. His inadequacies are getting blown out of proportion:
PERSONALLY I think Bertrand is ok. I want to see more of him. is he as bad as people making out? don't think so. no way.— Johnathan Joseph (@DJSpoony) July 24, 2014
By moving to a new club where he'd be assured of first-team football regularly, Bertrand might be able to turn his career around and silence his doubters. Plenty of players have thrived after leaving Stamford Bridge.
If this were two or three years ago when Liverpool were still trying to get into the Champions League, Bertrand would've been a much more astute purchase. Going back a few summers, the club wasn't in a position where it couldn't exert much control on the market, so it had to gamble on buy-low candidates who could bloom into regular first-team players.
Sometimes that's worked; sometimes it hasn't. That's why it's considered a gamble.
There's a chance that Bertrand would blossom at Anfield like Daniel Sturridge has, in the event that he signs with the club, but Liverpool should focus their efforts more on emerging stars with higher ceilings, like Alberto Moreno, who, despite being two years younger than Bertrand, has appeared in one more first-division match.
Moreno isn't the only alternative, either.
Bleacher Report's transfers correspondent Allan Jiang wrote an article detailing why Augsburg left-back Matthias Ostrzolek might be a better option than Bertrand. The German defender is more of a threat going forward but can get caught out of position at times. His ceiling is much higher than Bertrand's, making him a stronger buy for the long term.
Ricardo Rodriguez is the optimal fit, but getting him out of Wolfsburg won't be easy—if it can be done at all this summer. He would be worth sounding out the German club, though.
The point is that Liverpool aren't without choices. Maybe if it's deadline day and they haven't gotten another left-back, Bertrand would be the best bet. Right now, the Reds shouldn't settle on a cut-rate transfer for a player who's failed to make much of an impact in the Premier League.