Memphis Depay snub adds to Liverpool woes in transfer market
Memphis Depay opting for Manchester United over Liverpool was not a surprise, but it's hardly the start Brendan Rodgers was hoping for in his summer recruitment drive.
Depay joins an ever-lengthening list of high-profile missed targets in the past two years, and many fans are already gearing up for another summer of disappointment, particularly as Daniel Sturridge's body continues to fall apart piece by piece.
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Rodgers has insisted the Reds were never interested in the player, but PSV Eindhoven technical director Marcel Brands has suggested otherwise.
Supporters are frustrated, and losing another high-profile target to a rival is causing consternation in the red half of Merseyside. If Depay goes on to have a similar impact to other ones who got away such as Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez, that will make things even worse.
Snubs are becoming an alarming trend. Liverpool seem to be able to sign players only when none of their rivals want them, and the list of excuses is growing.
Liverpool often talk of how they cannot compete financially with the current top-four clubs and how they have to do things a different way. Their entire transfer policy appears to be based on being smarter than everyone else.
The obvious flaw with that policy is that those entrusted with transfers are not showing they're smarter than everyone else. In fact, they've yet to prove they are smarter than anybody else. Only Manchester City currently appear to be as inept at buying players as Liverpool, although Spurs fans may also want to throw their club's hat into the ring given how the Gareth Bale money was squandered.
The attraction of Depay is that he is a 20-goals-a-season forward barely out of his teens. For Liverpool to get back to where they were a year ago, they need to add two of that type of forward. They simply must add goals to the squad this summer.
There are other players out there, some not much older than Depay. Is it really asking too much to expect Liverpool's highly paid recruitment team to be able to identify and sign a couple of them?
After all, it's a big world out there with lots of talented footballers in it, and Liverpool are in a much more privileged position than most clubs to attract them. Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs can't buy everybody -- there are plenty of players to go around providing you look in the right places.
Liverpool's problem is that for far too long, those who have been entrusted with finding players have repeatedly failed. The present incumbents may be the worst yet, but somehow they have retained their jobs despite the long list of appalling signings made under their watch. They are surely in the last-chance saloon this summer.
Not only do they still have to find a replacement for Luis Suarez, they should also be proceeding as though they no longer have Daniel Sturridge because for all intents and purposes, they don't.
When he eventually returns (estimates suggest October), he'll have once again missed preseason and can no longer be relied upon to be fit for any length of time. His occasional availability should be seen as an unexpected bonus, nothing more.
Liverpool's transfer committee needs to up its game considerably, and its owners need to show the ambition and desire to compete for the best players. We keep hearing about what Liverpool can't offer these players, but what about what they can offer? This is still Liverpool we're talking about here, one of the 10 richest and most supported clubs in the world and historically one of the greats of European football.
Memphis Depay set for Manchester United
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They're not Everton, although recently they've been doing a more-than-passable impression of their neighbours.
Liverpool more than likely won't be able to offer Champions League football, but there is nothing stopping them from competing financially for any player on the market. The money is there to do it, it's just that the club usually choose to spread that money out across a number of signings instead of making a massive offer to one star player.
They've been making that same mistake for years, last summer being the most recent example: Over £100 million was spent on eight players, only two of whom -- Emre Can and Adam Lallana -- have been any good, and only one (Can) provided genuine value for money.
This summer there will be fewer funds available for big transfer fees unless they cash in on Raheem Sterling. But as stated earlier, with several big earners coming off the books Liverpool could offer one star player a weekly salary that would dwarf anything currently being paid by Chelsea or either of the Manchester clubs. They won't, of course, but that's through choice, not necessity.
The explanation given is always that the squad needed more depth, but it's a false economy when the players added don't improve the team.
So cross Depay off the list, move on to the next one and do your damnedest to get him. Fans don't want to hear how difficult it is to attract players; they want results.
Another summer of failure accompanied by the same tired, old excuses simply is not acceptable. Liverpool have the finances to compete, and it's high time they started using them to sign the right players to make the club successful again.