Cristiano Ronaldo has again just proven Liverpool right as Virgil van Dijk transfers reality clearly
Of all the elite clubs in European football, Liverpool are perhaps the strongest when it comes to recruiting. That’s why there’s a tussle developing around Michael Edwards, who recently stepped down as the Reds’ sporting director.
A graphic posted on Twitter last week drove home the point. posted by The sporty oneit boasted the 10 most expensive transfers in Premier League history.
Manchester City man Jack Grealish (£106m) leads the way, followed by Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku (£102m) and Manchester United trio Paul Pogba (£95m), Harry Maguire (£78m), Jadon Sancho (£77m).
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Then it’s Lukaku again, this time his £76m transfer from Everton to Manchester United in 2017, with Virgil van Dijk (£75m) the only Liverpool representative on the list at number seven Chelsea duo Kai Havertz and Kepa Arrizabalaga, along with Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe, complete the list at £72million each.
The sportsman argued that ‘Van Dijk is the only player worth spending money here’ and it’s hard to argue with that assessment at the moment.
In the cases of Grealish, Sancho and Havertz, the jury is admittedly still out. But in truth, they may have already given their verdicts on Maguire, Pépé and Arrizabalaga.
Pogba, meanwhile, is set to quit English football. Arrived at the end of the contract, he returns to Juventus. After six unconvincing seasons, he left United on a free transfer.
Lukaku is also back at his former Serie A club. But the difference is that he only lasted 12 months at Chelsea, starting just 16 Premier League games and failing to score double goals. Inter Milan will confirm the loan deal soon.
And now, a year after his much-heralded arrival for a second stint at Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo is exploring possible exit routes.
According to The Athletic, Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has discussed a potential transfer to Chelsea with the Blues’ new owner, Todd Boehly. Bayern Munich officials are said to have held similar talks.
Ronaldo has one year left on his contract with United, but he is apparently worried that the Red Devils will not match his ambition.
The 37-year-old’s comeback tour was not a total failure. Many have defended the signing on the grounds that Ronaldo was the top scorer last season with 24 goals, but to focus solely on that figure is reductive. The reality is that he hasn’t improved Manchester United.
It may have cost a lot less than Pogba and Lukaku (around £20m including add-ons) but it was still a similar deal in that it was apparently designed to do A declaration.
The signings of Pogba and Lukaku were a way to resolve unfinished business after leaving United and Chelsea in their youth and thriving elsewhere.
While Ronaldo was undoubtedly one of the greatest players in footballing history in his prime, it’s hard to argue that this was a purely sporting move by United. It was also driven by sentiment – the chance to “bring it home” – and vast marketing potential. With Ronaldo looking to get out of Juventus and negotiating with Manchester City, they felt they had to act. It was clear from the start that he would be an out of possession passenger, but that didn’t seem like a serious consideration.
Liverpool, however, avoid this kind of business. The only real superstar they signed in the Jürgen Klopp era is Thiago, and most importantly, he makes them better. Of all the players with at least 10 Premier League starts for the Reds last season, only Luis Díaz could improve on his points-per-game record.
Michael Edwards and his successor Julian Ward recruited players based on profile rather than name. Not only is he thrifty – there’s a reason Liverpool have only made the top 10 once and not made the top six – he’s also proven to be far more efficient.
Indeed, the Reds will see the Pogba and Lukaku deals, and Ronaldo’s potential exit, as vindication. They just don’t make these costly mistakes.