If any transfer seemed nailed on in the upcoming window, it was Timo Werner moving to Liverpool.
The striker had flirted with the club publicly, and over the past few months, Jurgen Klopp had reportedly had multiple video calls with the RB Leipzig forward. There seemed no way the striker could go elsewhere; he was Anfield bound, and would serve as a great addition in bolstering our attack.
However, in a shock update yesterday, various sources reported that a move to Chelsea was imminent, with Frank Lampard’s outfit triggering his £49m release clause, and trebling his salary, with the German sold on the club’s vision going forward.
Journalists could not deny that Liverpool were keen on Werner, but they simply pulled out of the race, citing financial reasons as the dominant factor behind this.
Even with the current COVID-19 pandemic having clear financial detriments, allowing Werner to move to a direct rival for the sake of £10-15m could prove incredibly costly.
It’s paramount that Liverpool need depth to their attack; not only is the AFCON scheduled for January and February, but a long-term injury to Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, or Roberto Firmino would have devastating consequences. With Xherdan Shaqiri increasingly likely to depart, it would mean either Divock Origi, or Takumi Minamino likely stepping into the starting lineup. While Origi is a cult-hero, and Minamino has yet to really display his talents, the drop off in quality is palpable. Origi has 5 goals in 36 games this season; strengthening the attack had to be a priority.
Werner fitted the bill perfectly. If 42 goals contributions in 40 games this season isn’t enough to convince you, he had other qualities; direct movement, excellent link-up play, and an abundance of pace. Moreover, he was ready to battle the front-three for a space in the starting XI, and was excited for the challenge.
Simply put, Timo Werner, one of the most promising, and explosive forwards in Europe wanted to join Liverpool, but we decided not to move for him.
There’s no disputing that Klopp wanted to sign his compatriot either; he had been scouted extensively, and video calls had taken place between the pair. If that’s not a clear sign of intent, what is?
Yet, the club have allowed Chelsea free reign. While Werner would undoubtedly pounce at the chance to sign for us if we matched the Blues’ offer, that just wasn’t an option. The coronavirus has reportedly damaged our finances to the extent that a transfer for a player who wasn’t guaranteed to start wasn’t viable.
This is understandable. The current pandemic has left the football world in a period of uncertainty, and committing a large fee to one player could be a unneeded risk.
Yet, the crux of the matter is in the past three transfer windows, we’ve signed Adrian, Andy Lonergan, Harvey Elliott, Sepp van den Berg, and Takumi Minamino. To clarify, that’s two free transfers, a tribunal fee, around £1.5m, and £7.25m that was only paid due to a clause.
A club of our stature has spent approximately £8.75m in the past three transfer windows.
Indeed, we’ve spent big money on the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Alisson, and Naby Keita, but these were mostly funded by the £142m sale of Philippe Coutinho; our net spend is incredibly low, and considering our recent success, coupled with our Nike kit deal, surely it would be possible to finance a move for Werner?
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Timo Werner will be a guaranteed success at Stamford Bridge, and we’ve been okay when missing out on the likes of Nabil Fekir, and Mario Gotze in previous seasons.
However, when a player of that quality has been convinced to come to Anfield, and Klopp was desperate to work with him, letting him go to a direct rival seems a risk certain to backfire.