Aug 23, 2015
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Liverpool & Spurs: A Lesson In Selling Stars

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Some people are under the mistaken belief that Tottenham were the first team to sell their best player and fail to replace him. In fact, when Liverpool sold Luis Suarez at the end of the 2013/14 season for approximately £75 million, there was talk about Liverpool making sure not to ‘do a Spurs’ which means selling your best player and buying a multitude of sub-standard ones to do the same job.

Both Liverpool and Tottenham have been guilty of this in recent seasons, but contrary to popular belief, it was Liverpool that started this trend rather than Tottenham. Remember Fernando Torres?

When Liverpool sold Torres to Chelsea for £50 million in January 2011, they signed Andy Carroll from Newcastle for £35 million on the same day. To this day, I have never heard a Liverpool fan say that was £35 million well spent – it wasn’t!

Andy Carroll failed to make a significant impact at Liverpool, (he played 58 times and scored 11 goals) and he stayed until June 2013 before moving to West Ham for £17.5 million. The Merseyside club were eventually able to recoup exactly half of their £35 million splurge on Carroll, but bringing him in to replace Fernando Torres has to be put down to a failed experiment.

The like for like transfer that Liverpool attempted to pull off was far from successful, but Tottenham took this even further and bought more than half a squad in an attempt to replace one player.

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When Tottenham sold Gareth Bale in the summer of 2013 for £86 million, they purchased seven new players to replace him. The transfers were partially funded by the Bale transfer as Spurs spent over £100million on rebuilding their squad.

Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela and Paulinho are the seven players in question and not one of them has lived up to the hype that surrounded them ever since they joined White Hart Lane in June 2013. Before coming to White Hart Lane, Roberto Soldado had scored 59 goals in 88 appearances for Valencia and this is probably what convinced the North London side to pay £26 million for him. However he has been unable to continue with his form and in two seasons at Tottenham, Soldado has only managed seven goals in two Premier League seasons.

Soldado has been sold to Villarreal in this transfer window for a reported £10 million after two disappointing seasons in England. He is not the only one of the seven to be moved on this season either. Etienne Capoue, purchased from French club Toulouse for £8.6 million, has been sold to Watford this season for around £6.3 million.

Just like Liverpool, Tottenham have splashed the cash on players and then they have had to sell them at a significant loss. Tottenham have approximately made an £18.3 million loss on Soldado and Capoue as both players have not recaptured the form that initially made the North London club sign them.

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Now back to Liverpool. Regardless of the controversy that seemed to follow him around wherever he went, Luis Suarez was Liverpool’s best player. But in the summer of 2014, Barcelona came calling after a fantastic season at the Merseyside club in which he scored 31 Premier League goals in a single season. Barcelona and Liverpool settled on a £75 million deal and Suarez was off.

Liverpool went on an almost identical spending spree to Tottenham the previous season, post-Bale, and spent all of the money from the Suarez deal (and more) on eight players. They raided Southampton and came away with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren. In addition, they bought Mario Balotelli, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi (who was promptly loaned back to Lille, the club he was signed from).

Just like the players Tottenham acquired to replace Bale, none of the signings that Liverpool made have come close to replacing Suarez. Balotelli proved to be a risk that didn’t pay off as he managed one Premier League goal for Liverpool last season. Lallana was injured for a significant part of last season and none of the other players got into their stride.

Rickie Lambert, who was a member of Liverpool’s youth squad, seemed to be returning with a point to prove. However, after a single season, he has been sold to West Bromwich Albion for approximately £3 million. Lambert only managed to score two goals in 25 Premier League appearances for the Reds and there were 119 players who scored more goals than him in the Premier League last season.

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Liverpool have again made a loss on a like for like striker as Lambert was sold to West Brom for approximately £3 million, which is £1 million less than Liverpool paid Southampton for him the previous season.

Both Liverpool and Tottenham have purchased a great number of players to replace one spectacular player and it has not worked out for them. There is nothing wrong with buying more than one or two players in a transfer window, but the mistake that both of these Premier League sides have made, is buying too many and trying to thrust them all together at once.

You would think that Liverpool might have learned their lesson from this, but they have purchased another seven players to replace the huge gap left by Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling. Maybe it will be third time lucky for the Reds or maybe they’ll be cutting their losses again in two years. I personally don’t see the outcome being any different to last season, but the new season has only just begun and I am more than happy for the likes of Christian Benteke and his team mates to prove me wrong.

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Comments to Liverpool & Spurs: A Lesson In Selling Stars

  • What Daniel Levy should take from this is, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to keep your best players and build on them, not keep selling and hoping things will turn out right.

    Tony Borg August 23, 2015 10:51 am