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How Big a Steal Is Nathaniel Clyne for Liverpool?

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2015

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20:  Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool controls the ball during the international friendly match between Adelaide United and Liverpool FC at Adelaide Oval on July 20, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Matt King/Getty Images

Ahead of Liverpool's opening Premier League fixture against Stoke City, former Reds defender Glen Johnson has claimed none of the club's seven new signings will "walk straight into the team."

"They've made some signings, but not ones that are going to walk straight into the team," Johnson claims, as reported by Jacob Murtagh of the Mirror.

It's a bizarre suggestion from the player who left Anfield for the Britannia Stadium this summer after his contract expired—especially because the player who has replaced Johnson, Nathaniel Clyne, will quite clearly walk straight into Brendan Rodgers' side.

Clyne, the new No. 2 at Anfield, arrived as a direct replacement for Johnson, with Liverpool paying Southampton £12.5 million, according to BBC Sport

The 24-year-old represents a significant upgrade on Johnson, whose form had nose-dived over the last two seasons.

So how does the signing of Clyne stack up? How big a steal is it for Liverpool?

Johnson vs. Clyne

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The first place to begin the comparison can be against the man he's replacing. Liverpool signed Johnson from Portsmouth for a pretty staggering £18 million in 2009, seen by many at the time as a signing to push Rafael Benitez's side—who had just finished second in the league—to the next level.

I'm very proud and honoured to have signed for @LFC it's a special club with a lot of history and looking forward to getting started now.

— Nathaniel Clyne (@Nathaniel_Clyne) July 1, 2015

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05:  Glen Johnson of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool at Ewood Park on December 5, 2009 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Johnson was aged 24, the same as Clyne, and had just established himself as England's first-choice right-back. Clyne is in a very similar position, seen by many as England's best option in that position, although recently overlooked by England boss Roy Hodgson.

Clyne will be hoping the move to a perceived bigger club will help his international ambitions.

An analysis between the two players by This Is Anfield notes Clyne's superiority vs. Johnson in the last two seasons: "[...] Since 2012/13, [Clyne has] sent over more crosses than Johnson (261 to 170), with more of those finding their intended target (54 to 18), while also putting in more tackles (267 to 184), clearances (266 to 233) and interceptions (163 to 124)."

So, how come Liverpool have signed Clyne, a very similar player with similar attributes, for almost £6 million less than Johnson cost six years ago—when the transfer market was far less inflated compared to now with the new TV deal.

Quite simply, this is because Clyne had just one year remaining on his Southampton contract. Therefore, Liverpool have acquired him at a cut price and below his actual market value.

Premier League Comparisons

A more recent, and more suitable, comparison can be made against Clyne's former Southampton team-mate and fellow England full-back Luke Shaw.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26:  Luke Shaw of Southampton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Everton at St Mary's Stadium on April 26, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Shaw signed for Manchester United last summer in a deal worth £27 million. Of course, aged just 18 at the time, United paid for the potential that Shaw is perceived to have—much like how Manchester City paid £49 million for Raheem Sterling.

Shaw is not a £27 million player, and Sterling is not a £49 million player, but Clyne is more than a £12.5 million player.

The Clyne deal even looks good against arguably the best right-back in the league over the last five years: Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentinian joined Man City in 2008, with City meeting Espanyol's buy-out clause of £6.45 million. That was clearly a good deal for City, and Clyne's looks on par with that when adjusting for inflation and market changes.

That same year, Chelsea signed Branislav Ivanovic for £9 million. Again, a good deal for Chelsea, but not a better one financially than Liverpool have got with Clyne.

If Liverpool get anywhere near the quality that Chelsea and City have got from Ivanovic and Zabaleta, they'll be delighted.

In seven years' time, we could be talking about the price Liverpool paid for Clyne in even more glowing terms.

Recent Deals

Manchester United's Italian defender Matteo Darmian runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLI S
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Similarly, Man United signed Matteo Darmian from Torino for a fee believed to be £12.7 million, per BBC Sport.

Darmian is a 25-year-old Italy international. He is slightly older than Clyne, but he arrives at Old Trafford without Premier League experience.

Accounting again for the homegrown/English premium, the Clyne deal certainly looks to be the better of the two.

The Reds have signed a player with Premier League experience, who has proved himself in the top flight but who also has room to develop ahead of his peak years.

£12.5 million for a player on the cusp of their prime, with the added English premium due to homegrown quota rules, represents an absolute bargain for Liverpool.

Without Clyne's Southampton contract being due to expire next summer, Liverpool would have been looking at closer to £20 million for the player—perhaps even double the amount they acquired him for.

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