The recent troubles of Liverpool FC in the current transfer window are the consequences of both not having a sourcing strategy and being unable to build enough influence to get a deal across the line.
In the past week they have tried to outflank Chelsea for two players – Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia. Liverpool have known for over a year that they were going to need midfield reinforcements with their captain Jordan Henderson nearing the end of the road. They were taken by surprise when their other midfielder, Fabinho, was targeted with a £40 million bid from Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad. They accepted the bid – the player was interested and also it was very good money for a player pushing 30 years of age.
With two glaring holes in midfield they were forced to lunge into the market to source replacements. They attempted to gazump Chelsea’s deal for Caicedo by bidding £110 million – £10 million more than Chelsea’s offer to Brighton. Brighton accepted the offer but the player refused to sign for Liverpool as he had already given his word to Chelsea. Something similar happened with Romeo Lavia. Chelsea originally bid £48 million for the Belgian. Southampton wanted £50 million and then struck a deal with Liverpool for £60 million. Once again the player had no interest in moving to Liverpool and Chelsea finally agreed a deal yesterday to sign the player for £58 million.
Jamie Carragher, pundit and former Liverpool defender, said on Sky Sports that Liverpool’s lack of power in the current transfer window is due to Michael Edwards, their previous director of football, leaving the club 18 months ago. They have had three people in the role since then who have not been able to get the deals done.
Good football clubs have excellent recruitment departments. A director of football sets out a medium to long term recruitment strategy and is supported with the proper scouting, legal and dealmaking structures along with a good recruitment committee. Manchester City have been the exemplars in this area whereas Manchester United, until recently, have been anything but.
Liverpool’s attempts to land both Lavia and Caicedo are superb examples of empty offers that failed to resonate with their prospects. Yes they had the money, but they hadn’t done the spade work needed to build a relationship with the two players and give them confidence that Liverpool was the right place for them. Both players weren’t emotionally attached to what was on offer, whereas they were with Chelsea. It’s worth mentioning that in another era, Alex Ferguson would spend a lot of time selling Manchester United not only to future players, but also to their parents and wider family. Fergie knew all about the importance of influence.
Over the years I’ve seen many instances of companies missing out on big contracts because they have not spent the time building enough influence across an entire organisation. Different stakeholders have different needs and not everything is solved by money.
Liverpool’s recent problems illustrate how quickly the wheels can come off once you lose dealmakers who understand the big picture. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to put those wheels back on.
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