The transfer windows are always a funny time. The summer one is usually when a club can start to hope and dream. Flush with an injection of cash or new management, the summer tends to be when major players are on the move and a new philosophy can take shape. The winter window though, that tends to be all about the vibes and embracing the chaos. As the famous boys from Liverpool once sang: “I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.” Hello Luis Diaz, goodbye Nat Phillips. Hello AND goodbye AND maybe hello again this summer Fabio Carvalho. Goodbye Neco Williams.
Supporters both love and hate transfers. It’s the idea of Christmas when new gifts and presents give the impression of being exactly what we have been hoping for. Then, when the wrapping paper is off and instead of a new PS5… it’s a pair of socks. Granted, socks are important too but they aren’t usually things to get excited about. In time, a good pair of socks can become essential and likewise, some transfers will blossom over time. Robbo is perhaps the prime example of this. Yet, other times those socks need to be returned or discarded because they just weren’t the right fit, perhaps in the Aquilani mold for instance.
Really though, transfer windows are all about being in the mix. Even more frustrating than bad transfers are when a club just sits out windows altogether. Many Liverpool supporters have been very vocal about FSG’s unwillingness to splash the cash around in the last few cycles. They’ve watched as City, Chelsea, United, and now Newcastle have constantly been bringing in new faces and part of that frustration is the fear of stagnation. In sports as well as life, it’s almost always better to leave early than to stay too long. Keeping a squad together one season too long versus recruiting fresh first-teamers can make all the difference between trophies and mid-table or worse.
The circumstances are very different for each squad of course. City and Chelsea have such deep pockets they can afford to absorb a bad transfer or 3, can send a whole fleet of players out on loan and still have a fully packed team ready to go. Others must spend to try and regain past glory in the cases of United, Arsenal and Newcastle. The money acts as a “get good quick” attempt when perhaps a longer game is needed, though that remains a tough sell to their fans.
Liverpool right now are in the middle of a very fertile time. What really helps things is first and foremost having Jurgen Klopp at the helm. Win or lose, what Liverpool possess is a deeply ingrained philosophy and game plan. This comes as much from the time Klopp and management has spent in charge as from the success it has brought. Those things are linked in a great part to the transfer windows. Rather than constantly dipping in and bringing players in and out, what Klopp believes in is stability.
Almost all of Liverpool’s starting XI are approaching what would be called the later peaks of their careers, generally thought to be 28-32, depending on position. It’s that nebulous time when body and mind have experiences enough to operate at prime levels. However, modern medicine and conditioning have made this timeframe hazy and we’ve seen players push their peaks until much later. This is both a blessing as it allows top players to continue being their very best but then also makes knowing when to bring in new blood to the squad that much more of a challenge. Is a player’s dip in form permanent now because they’ve crossed an age threshold or is it merely a bad patch? It’s the great unknown in performance.
Looking at the squad Liverpool have now, with Diaz added to the mix and talk of perhaps a top midfielder coming in the summer, what is clear is that Klopp and company believe this squad doesn’t need a drastic shakeup but instead just added bullets. In time yes, Diaz may become the first choice player over a Mane or Salah, though it’s much more likely he has been brought in to play alongside them and give both of their legs some rest. Judging by the performances they are putting in at AFCON, both will certainly need to be managed through the rest of the season to keep them from burnout. The added depth in attack is only going to benefit all of the players as it will push competition for time and places further.
What comes next is the real question and it may once again be the case of hello, goodbye. As we approach the next summer and season to come, some familiar faces could be seeing the end of their terms with the squad. Particularly in the midfield. Hopefully, Salah signs that contract extension and continues his dominance. If he ends up being gobbled up by some other rich club, then it’ll be a bitter pill to swallow but forward must we all march.
As with the Beatles, what is most important is also to enjoy the team right now and not get too caught up in what is to come. The club is being run in a way that is maximizing its potential, which is in stark contrast to seasons not so long ago. Instead of the chaos of Januarys past, this one seems a positive one to help finish things strong. At the midway point of what can yet be a very successful season, let’s enjoy the team and joy because you never know when it will be time to say goodbye.