Liverpool's Failed Transfer Policy Makes Sense in Theory but Not in Practice

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Liverpool chairman Tom Werner (R) chats with managing director Ian Ayre prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Wigan Athletic at Anfield on November 17, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

We've been here before; the morning after the night that Liverpool failed in their pursuit of a transfer target.

In summer 2012, it was Clint Dempsey; in January 2014, it's Yevhen Konoplyanka. In between, Liverpool have lost out on half a dozen primary transfer targets: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa, Willian, Mohamed Salah and before them Gylfi Sigurdsson, too.

Whether supporters agree that the club needed those players at the time is irrelevant; what is concerning and worrying is this constant failure in the transfer market.

The Committee and Policy

Liverpool's use of a "transfer committee" and placing a maximum price on their targets is commendable in theory but proving problematic in practice.

Liverpool will always struggle to attract top calibre players while they are out of the Champions League and you cannot claim they have not been targeting quality players, but have they been foolish in their actual pursuit of the players?

The problem with placing a maximum price is that once Liverpool reach a situation such as the one they are currently in, paying the extra amount could actually prove priceless.

Not signing Konoplyanka isnt the issue. Failing to strengthen from the best position we've been in, in years, is.

— Nark (@KopBlock205) February 1, 2014
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This isn't about the one player in particular. Plenty have pointed out that Dempsey failed after his move to Tottenham, but he may not have either—with transfers you never know. Perhaps he'd have been a success at Anfield.

Dempsey isn't the point nor is it any one player in particular. The point is that sometimes you have to pay slightly more than you'd wish for something you need and desire—especially when that extra payment can lead to huge financial return in the future.

If you have a business, and in order to grow that business you would benefit from a new piece of technology, you may have to pay a little more than you wish to get that required technology.

Time FSG/Ian Ayre gave proper explanation of LFC transfer policy, & not on LFCTV. Face Merseyside journos, @TheAnfieldWrap, @TheRedmenTV etc

— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) February 1, 2014


Ian Ayre

Managing director Ian Ayre's role is the one that is frequently scrutinised when Liverpool's transfer dealings are discussed. Ayre was promoted to the role by FSG in March 2011 from his previous one as commercial director.

BBC Sport's Ben Smith defended Ayre in the post-Konoplyanka fallout:

Ian Ayre is an easy target. Collapse of this particular deal was not his fault. He was dealing with an impossible owner

— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) January 31, 2014

But should supporters take for gospel the information that journalists such as Smith have been provided with—from a Liverpool source? A Liverpool source is not likely to leak information confessing that the club had made mistakes in their transfer dealings yet again.

Fans never know really what goes on with transfer dealings, but with Liverpool now having missed out on so many targets in the past 18 months, there certainly appears to be something wrong.


As for the pursuit of Konoplyanka this week, there are numerous parts to the story that just don't add up.

According to Smith, Liverpool had an agreement with the player himself, but the Dnipro owner refused to sanction the deal:

#LFC had an agreement with Konoplyanka. Owner of FC Dnipro refused to sign the paperwork

— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) January 31, 2014

Which leads you to ask: Why did Liverpool even pursue the deal if the owner was so unwavering in his refusal to sell the player?

The Liverpool Echo's James Pearce claims Liverpool had even activated the player's release clause:

Medical & personal terms were done, #LFC had triggered buyout clause. Owner refused to sign paperwork.

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) January 31, 2014

Yet nothing about this supposed release clause was reported prior to the deal collapsing. Something doesn't add up.

Surely Liverpool would have been more prudent to agree the deal with the club first, working from the top down, and not wasted their time trying to make an impossible deal possible?

After missing out on their primary target this January, Salah, and now their secondary target—who they were seemingly willing to pay more for than their primary target—questions need to be asked.

Every business will review where they are doing well and where they can improve. Liverpool would be certainly wise to review their policy and methods.

Don't know anything about this Ukrainian. That's not the point. Point is our strategy off the pitch is a shambles and has been for some time

— Jay Ray (@JayPRay77) February 1, 2014

That Liverpool promptly produced an interview with Brendan Rodgers discussing the club having made no signings was just rubbing salt into the wounds of supporters frustrated by another transfer failure.