The Unreliable Rumours Thread

Anfield rd Dreamer

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Of course he did.

Whether it’s a conversation with Klopp, his agent, or just puzzling it out by himself, he can look at that Liverpool side and see that his competition for a starting place are a veteran midfielder who doesn’t want to play there, and an odd lad in the last year of his contract who the fans don’t like and doesn’t seem to know how to play football. There is no hot academy prospect that he is going to be competing with. Whether he thinks he is getting in straightaway or he’s going to have to bide his time a bit, he can see a route to the first team and the move makes sense.

Any left back we target now is going to see the World’s Best Left Back ahead of them, and unless they have delusional levels of self belief, have completely understandable questions about where they get their game.
There is no way Klopp guarantees anything to anyone he signs. You earn a place in the side through a combination of working hard in training and playing well on the pitch.

I also think you are looking back on Robertson with hindsight too much and not giving a fair reflection on that summer when it came to left backs here.

Milner had just had a very good season at left back setting a Champions League assist record (I think was that year) and the only real issue was he tired out towards the end and performance dropped off due to overplaying.

Moreno had two years left and was looking a lot better than previously, he played as first choice LB first half of the season and it was his best period for us in his time here.

We obviously wanted a left back and a young one too (we had tried and failed to get Chilwell) and as with any player under Klopp there will always be a route to being a starter as it's a meritocracy here. I've no idea if Robertson expected to win a starting role or not but he knew he wasn't going to be handed one.

He was a cheap acquisition from a relegated side (was he even their player of the year?) in much the same kind of deal as Shaqiri (another not expected to be a starter and who hasn't earned a starting role) and largely a player swap with us for Kevin Stewart, another cover player who we were calling time on at that point.

I do agree however that a pure left back isn't going to fancy their chances of much football here if that's their only playing position.

Kind of limits us to 3 option;

1, inexperienced young players wanting to develop under Klopp.
2, older veterans wanting season or two at a top side with trophies.
3, limited journey men content their lot in life is to ride the bench.

None of which would be ideal especially the journey man option. That's why I've been saying my choice and prediction is a player who plays more than one position but is a good, strong option at LB. Like Milner is/has been.

I'm also not as convinced as some that there will definitely be movement on this in this summer as Klopp may give more time to see how Larouci develops and Milner is still there providing what we arguably need anyway. Just even Milner is finally starting to slow down a bit and Milner at LB in 2020 is not as good as Milner at LB in 2017 was.
 

Mascot88

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There is no way Klopp guarantees anything to anyone he signs. You earn a place in the side through a combination of working hard in training and playing well on the pitch.

I also think you are looking back on Robertson with hindsight too much and not giving a fair reflection on that summer when it came to left backs here.

Milner had just had a very good season at left back setting a Champions League assist record (I think was that year) and the only real issue was he tired out towards the end and performance dropped off due to overplaying.

Moreno had two years left and was looking a lot better than previously, he played as first choice LB first half of the season and it was his best period for us in his time here.

We obviously wanted a left back and a young one too (we had tried and failed to get Chilwell) and as with any player under Klopp there will always be a route to being a starter as it's a meritocracy here. I've no idea if Robertson expected to win a starting role or not but he knew he wasn't going to be handed one.

He was a cheap acquisition from a relegated side (was he even their player of the year?) in much the same kind of deal as Shaqiri (another not expected to be a starter and who hasn't earned a starting role) and largely a player swap with us for Kevin Stewart, another cover player who we were calling time on at that point.

I do agree however that a pure left back isn't going to fancy their chances of much football here if that's their only playing position.

Kind of limits us to 3 option;

1, inexperienced young players wanting to develop under Klopp.
2, older veterans wanting season or two at a top side with trophies.
3, limited journey men content their lot in life is to ride the bench.

None of which would be ideal especially the journey man option. That's why I've been saying my choice and prediction is a player who plays more than one position but is a good, strong option at LB. Like Milner is/has been.

I'm also not as convinced as some that there will definitely be movement on this in this summer as Klopp may give more time to see how Larouci develops and Milner is still there providing what we arguably need anyway. Just even Milner is finally starting to slow down a bit and Milner at LB in 2020 is not as good as Milner at LB in 2017 was.
When Robertson signed his competition was Milner (who’d had a fine season, but clearly didn’t want to play the position) and Moreno (who was shite).

Moreno did indeed have a good start to the season, but at the time Robbo signed, Alby was the lad that Klopp had bombed out for a midfielder who didn’t want to play there.

There is obviously a route into the first team at left back for a decent player in summer 2017. In summer 2020 that position is locked down by the best in the world, and it’s a tough sell to suggest any full back is going to get plenty of games.

By the way, Andy famously knocked on Klopp’s door a few months into his time here and asked Klopp what he needed to do to get into the first team (which impressed Klopp, as most players would ask ‘why aren’t I in the first team’). Robbo did what he was told to do and got his place.

What do you think a young full back knocking on Klopp’s door now is told? It is a meritocracy, but the answer is something along the lines of ‘be better than Andy Robertson’. There’s not many full backs across Europe who can respond to that.
 

Limiescouse

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Alby's good start to the season was the season Robbo joined. He then got injured which led to Robbo coming into the side and making the place his own. When Alby did get a run out he had reverted to his earlier error prone self.
And it wasn't really a good start to the season. It was a period of comparatively reduced calamity, but it was still not objectively good in either direction. It's relevant that the prevailing narrative for most of the first few months was why that Scottish lad we'd brought in who looked so good in that one early game he was given wasnt being played.
 

redfanman

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And it wasn't really a good start to the season. It was a period of comparatively reduced calamity, but it was still not objectively good in either direction. It's relevant that the prevailing narrative for most of the first few months was why that Scottish lad we'd brought in who looked so good in that one early game he was given wasnt being played.
I thought that narrative was driven by peoples long term distrust of Alby. I think other than the 3 goals we conceded to draw the Sevilla game, he had done well.
 

Limiescouse

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I thought that narrative was driven by peoples long term distrust of Alby. I think other than the 3 goals we conceded to draw the Sevilla game, he had done well.
He is not a good player. It is that simple. His performances reflected that despite them being comparatively better due to the relative lack of major fuck ups.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

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When Robertson signed his competition was Milner (who’d had a fine season, but clearly didn’t want to play the position) and Moreno (who was shite).

Moreno did indeed have a good start to the season, but at the time Robbo signed, Alby was the lad that Klopp had bombed out for a midfielder who didn’t want to play there.

There is obviously a route into the first team at left back for a decent player in summer 2017. In summer 2020 that position is locked down by the best in the world, and it’s a tough sell to suggest any full back is going to get plenty of games.

By the way, Andy famously knocked on Klopp’s door a few months into his time here and asked Klopp what he needed to do to get into the first team (which impressed Klopp, as most players would ask ‘why aren’t I in the first team’). Robbo did what he was told to do and got his place.

What do you think a young full back knocking on Klopp’s door now is told? It is a meritocracy, but the answer is something along the lines of ‘be better than Andy Robertson’. There’s not many full backs across Europe who can respond to that.
What part of me saying what I said is arguing for a player who only plays left back? You're arguing against something I'm not saying.

I think what has this confused is that in summer 2017 would Robertson, at that stage of his career, have accepted a role of a journey man largely riding the bench, providing cover, for Robertson in 2020, best left back in the world?

I think he probably would have if it was his only decent option of getting out of relegated Hull but it would have been a coin toss between accepting that or instead moving to a Southampton or a Newcastle as a starter.

It's not cut and dry and some players do make moves that they know they will be back up only in (although it's less common in defence as there is less rotation). Adrian for instance, Shaqiri and Minamino too.

Robertson in 2017 was an unrefined gem waiting to be polished and exposed as fucking priceless. If he never had that conversation with Klopp he may have continued vying with Moreno that season and we may have eventually purchased a more established LB to be the starter with Robertson as back up for a season or two before moving on elsewhere like Shaqiri will probably do this summer.

Not all players expect to play week in week out. However they expect to get the chance if the player in front of them is rubbish. Andy was probably sitting thinking "well Milner isn't even getting played LB any more so I'm only competing with Moreno who isn't all that, theres got to be a way I can get myself first choice here I just need to find out how"!

And if Shaqiri or Minamino was competing with Downing instead of our current front 3 they'd probably be in same boat as Robertson was then. That doesn't mean they made the moves here expecting to get a chance to start but if the chance had presented itself (say we switch permanently to 4231 with Salah up top) you can be sure they would jump at the chance to seize a starting role just like Robertson did with Milner no longer playing LB after arguably being best LB in the league the year before.

I don't think players of the level of Robertson in 2016/17 would be out of our reach to bring in solely as back up IF we decided that was what we wanted to do. I don't think that is what we need or what we will do though.

I expect that, when we do decide we need a LB, we will target a high quality player who plays left back well as well as playing at least one other position (RB/CM/wing).

Klopp isn't the type of manager to want 20 full, senior, international level outfield players with 2 for each position. It leaves no room for youth development and creates unhappy players when one of the options is clearly better than the other, because there will be less rotation.

Klopp is more likely to have a core group of around 15 outfield players of the best possible quality who can cover all positions between them due to versatility. He will then have the best academy prospects getting chances and a few cover players just where we are a little weaker at with the first 15 and/or don't have the best options from the academy for.
 

Richard88

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Having Milner signed for another 2 years makes it much less urgent to find another LB, and should the right player not present himself this summer I think Klopp would be perfectly fine with going into next season with the same setup at LB.
 

Iluvatar

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Having Milner signed for another 2 years makes it much less urgent to find another LB, and should the right player not present himself this summer I think Klopp would be perfectly fine with going into next season with the same setup at LB.
I think as a team we've moved on significantly from the level Milner can offer as a back up. Emergency cover in a game yes of course, but long term rotation option? I don't think so.

Just like Gomez playing right back has a big impact on our attacking ability, Milner is similar on the left.

We are getting to the point that the right back up for fullback could be a winger!
 

Mascot88

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What part of me saying what I said is arguing for a player who only plays left back? You're arguing against something I'm not saying.
I don’t think I suggested you did? My disagreement is just around Robertson.

On the subject though, I do agree that full back cover comes from a utility player, but I don’t ever want to see us think we can play a Centre Back there. It’s an attacking position, and it needs an attack minded player.

I think what has this confused is that in summer 2017 would Robertson, at that stage of his career, have accepted a role of a journey man largely riding the bench, providing cover, for Robertson in 2020, best left back in the world?

I think he probably would have if it was his only decent option of getting out of relegated Hull but it would have been a coin toss between accepting that or instead moving to a Southampton or a Newcastle as a starter.
You never know what a players motivations are. I’d go to Liverpool FC to clean to toilets, but I’m a fan and not a player.

My point it’s that left back has gone from a position where any good player can see their route to the first team, to one where a specialist full back just won’t get a sniff.

In some cases a young player might decide its worth his while joining as cover and gambling on an injury*, or doing two years to try and raise their profile and work with a world class coach before moving on.

My only point is come in and displace Alby Moreno is a much more sellable scenario than come in and nudge out Andy Robinson.

*just as an aside, if I was a young left back being courted by LFC I’d be looking at Robbo and thinking, there’s a lad who’s run full stop for two and a half years, and is probably due a significant injury. Don’t want that to be the case, but just sayin’...

It's not cut and dry and some players do make moves that they know they will be back up only in (although it's less common in defence as there is less rotation). Adrian for instance, Shaqiri and Minamino too.
Yeah, but again the sell becomes a lot harder. Sometimes it also needs a bit of understanding in both side. A player might be interested in having Liverpool on their CV for a couple of years, but expect the club to be reasonable about facilitating another move when it crops up.

Robertson in 2017 was an unrefined gem waiting to be polished and exposed as fucking priceless. If he never had that conversation with Klopp he may have continued vying with Moreno that season and we may have eventually purchased a more established LB to be the starter with Robertson as back up for a season or two before moving on elsewhere like Shaqiri will probably do this summer.

Not all players expect to play week in week out. However they expect to get the chance if the player in front of them is rubbish. Andy was probably sitting thinking "well Milner isn't even getting played LB any more so I'm only competing with Moreno who isn't all that, theres got to be a way I can get myself first choice here I just need to find out how"!
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. The role Andy now occupies in the squad was an open door to him. He just needed to walk through it.

My point is that backing up establish high performing players gets really, really hard. And there is a Groucho Marx type contradiction here. Is a lad who is content to be back up the kind of lad who we really want.

Look at Utd. It looks likes they’ve signed Bruno Fernandes. And the reason they’ve got him is because it’s obvious he’s a lot better than any of the shite they are currently playing (wait till Ole gets his hands on him though). This is a player that we were supposedly interested in, and it would be a lot harder to persuade him to come here, despite being a better club, more chance of trophies and working under a better manager.
 

Chewbazza

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I think as a team we've moved on significantly from the level Milner can offer as a back up. Emergency cover in a game yes of course, but long term rotation option? I don't think so.

Just like Gomez playing right back has a big impact on our attacking ability, Milner is similar on the left.

We are getting to the point that the right back up for fullback could be a winger!
This is why there was so much clamour for Sessegnon at the time. Could have provided cover for Robbo and Mané. Just unfortunate he wasn't ready to leave London.
 

Limiescouse

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I think as a team we've moved on significantly from the level Milner can offer as a back up. Emergency cover in a game yes of course, but long term rotation option? I don't think so.

Just like Gomez playing right back has a big impact on our attacking ability, Milner is similar on the left.

We are getting to the point that the right back up for fullback could be a winger!
I don't see the comparison between Milner and Gomez. Milner has won two titles while playing primarily as a fairly orthodox winger, and that is evident with the way he plays at FB. For all the fawning over the crativity of the current 2 FBs, it was Milner the year before who broke the single season CL record for assists while playing as a LB. The issue with him as our back up is less the drop off in the one off games he is played, but his ability to play a physically demanding role 2 games a week should we lose Robbo for any length of time.
 

Iluvatar

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This is why there was so much clamour for Sessegnon at the time. Could have provided cover for Robbo and Mané. Just unfortunate he wasn't ready to leave London.
Yep he was on our list I think. Not done a lot though at Spurs.
 

Iluvatar

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I don't see the comparison between Milner and Gomez. Milner has won two titles while playing primarily as a fairly orthodox winger, and that is evident with the way he plays at FB. For all the fawning over the crativity of the current 2 FBs, it was Milner the year before who broke the single season CL record for assists while playing as a LB. The issue with him as our back up is less the drop off in the one off games he is played, but his ability to play a physically demanding role 2 games a week should we lose Robbo for any length of time.
Mainly the fact he has to cut in to his right to cross, which means Mane can get crowded out. It's a big reason Origi is an enigma on the left, he stays wide which forces Robertson inside v's Mane who cuts inside and Robertson does the overlap.

Maybe Milner + Origi is the key!
 

Limiescouse

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I think that criticism is primarily a stylistic one given how productive he has continued to be as a FB despite often choosing to cut back. Yes, there are differences in the way he plays the position - he is not as dynamic anymore, and not quite as good at defending the far post - but in essence he gives us a pretty good analogue. He is an all around good footballer who contributes very well in the final third but is effective at contributing in all phases of the attack rather than simply by overlapping and putting in crosses. I would argue that you wont find another LB in the league who can do that as well as Milner, principally because we're essentially judging FBs by the standards we used to judge LMs in our 80s 442 approach.
 
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redfanman

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I think that criticism is primarily a stylistic one given how productive he has continued to be as a FB despite often choosing to cut back. Yes, there are differences in the way he plays the position - he is now as dynamic anymore, he is not quite as good at defending the far post - but in essence he gives us a pretty good analogue. He is an all around good footballer who contributes very well in the final third but is effective at contributing in all phases of the attack rather than simply by overlaping and putting in crosses. I would argue that you wont find another LB in the league who can do that as well as Milner, principally because we're essentially judging FBs by the standards we used to judge LMs in our 80s 442 approach.
I think we could do worse than look for other midfielders to become the fill in full back if one is needed provided they offer a similar skill set to Milner.
 

Jimmyscase

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Virgil wants to sign for Juventus at season end for an undisclosed fee. Norwegian rumour on Transfermarkt. Soz about the Norwegian original and German translation. Sources are supposedly reputable and close to the club (it doesn't say which club!)
It's bullshit of course but it is a rumour so belongs in this thread I believe:

Quelle: Sportsbibelen.com
Skal vi tro oppsiktsvekkende rapporter, ønsker Virgil van Dijk (28) å forlate Liverpool ved sesongslutt.

– Utrolig, men jeg hørte akkurat at Van Dijk vil vekk til sommeren. Det er snakk om Juventus. Dette er fra to gode kilder meget nære klubben.

Zur letzten Quelle vom 29.01.2020 - 15:41 Uhr
Die norwegische Ausgabe von Sportsbibelen.com schreibt über Aufsicht erregende Berichte, dass Virgil van Dijk einen Wechselwunsch zu Juventus zum Saisonende ausgesprochen hat.

Die Info käme von zwei guten, sehr vereinsnahen Quellen.

Wer es glaubt ...

The German has got a mistake in it so you can make of it what you will....
 

Neukolln

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I'll wait with baited breath for Juventus' £8m offer with an additional £2m payable when hell freezes over.

Or for them to get him on a free in 2025.
Took the words right out of my mouth. If the dummies that made this up wanted to make this horseshit even remotely believable they could’ve, should’ve, picked literally ANY other club in the world than Juve.
 

Iluvatar

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I think that criticism is primarily a stylistic one given how productive he has continued to be as a FB despite often choosing to cut back. Yes, there are differences in the way he plays the position - he is not as dynamic anymore, and not quite as good at defending the far post - but in essence he gives us a pretty good analogue. He is an all around good footballer who contributes very well in the final third but is effective at contributing in all phases of the attack rather than simply by overlapping and putting in crosses. I would argue that you wont find another LB in the league who can do that as well as Milner, principally because we're essentially judging FBs by the standards we used to judge LMs in our 80s 442 approach.
He is 2 years on from that period though and whilst he has come into games and played 90mins and ran massive distances, when he has started consecutive games his form/performance does tail off. My concern is his age, as I said the odd game great but you lose Robbo for a month I think we’d see a big drop in quality after a few games. Surely we could find a better young option? I think Williams will be great on the right personally, Larouci for me looks years away from the 1st team though.

Sorry I’ve just seen your earlier post - I wasn’t saying Gomez/Milner are stylistically similar, more the fact they contribute to reduce our attacking output when fullback.
 

Limiescouse

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My concern is his age, as I said the odd game great but you lose Robbo for a month I think we’d see a big drop in quality after a few games. Surely we could find a better young option?
Yeah, we pretty much agree then. I dont think we have that much of an attacking drop off if we were to play him in LB in any given game, but across a run of games it would be a concerns.
 

nobluff

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Virgil wants to sign for Juventus at season end for an undisclosed fee. Norwegian rumour on Transfermarkt. Soz about the Norwegian original and German translation. Sources are supposedly reputable and close to the club (it doesn't say which club!)
It's bullshit of course but it is a rumour so belongs in this thread I believe:

Quelle: Sportsbibelen.com
Skal vi tro oppsiktsvekkende rapporter, ønsker Virgil van Dijk (28) å forlate Liverpool ved sesongslutt.

– Utrolig, men jeg hørte akkurat at Van Dijk vil vekk til sommeren. Det er snakk om Juventus. Dette er fra to gode kilder meget nære klubben.

Zur letzten Quelle vom 29.01.2020 - 15:41 Uhr
Die norwegische Ausgabe von Sportsbibelen.com schreibt über Aufsicht erregende Berichte, dass Virgil van Dijk einen Wechselwunsch zu Juventus zum Saisonende ausgesprochen hat.

Die Info käme von zwei guten, sehr vereinsnahen Quellen.


Wer es glaubt ...

The German has got a mistake in it so you can make of it what you will....
They literally couldn't afford the air he exhales.
 

Zoran

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(too many characters, need to post this in two sections)

Bale, Ronaldo, Terry, Fekir… the truth about the Liverpool transfers that never happened

Liverpool’s pulling power has arguably never been greater. They are closing in on adding the Premier League crown to their Champions League and Club World Cup titles.

Even Kylian Mbappe has been eulogising about the “machine” that Jurgen Klopp has created at Anfield. With records being broken on and off the pitch, Liverpool are in a position where they can attract world-class talent and retain it.

For most of the Premier League era that simply wasn’t the case. History is littered with examples of their targets slipping through the net and transfers collapsing at the 11th hour — some of those tales untold before today.

From a lack of financial clout to being outgunned by rivals offering better prospects of success, Liverpool have been used by agents and players to get improved contracts elsewhere and have pulled out of a number of deals due to concerns flagged up by medicals.

They have also made some spectacular errors of judgement along the way.

How different the landscape would have looked if Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero, Alan Shearer, Dani Alves, John Terry, Dele Alli, Willian, Aaron Ramsey, Diego Costa, Teddy Sheringham, Eric Cantona, Alex Teixeira, Mario Gotze and Nabil Fekir had moved to Anfield.

This is the inside story of the Liverpool transfers that didn’t happen…..

Gareth Bale

During the 2005-06 season, Liverpool scouts went to watch a youth team game between Bolton Wanderers and Southampton at the Lancashire FA headquarters at Leyland.

They were there to run the rule over David McGoldrick but it was one of his Southampton team-mates who caught their eye.

“The left-back was outstanding that day,” a member of Liverpool’s scouting delegation tells The Athletic. “We went back and said, ‘McGoldrick isn’t for us but there’s this 16-year-old kid called Gareth Bale we should sign.’

“No one was really talking about Bale back then. Southampton weren’t convinced themselves and he had only just earned himself a scholarship there.”

A Liverpool midfielder named Darren Potter was with Southampton on loan at the time and the Merseyside club proposed a swap deal for Bale. Southampton insisted that it would need to be cash plus Potter for Bale.

“The response was basically, ‘Cheeky bastards!’” the source continued. “Potter was an established pro and Bale was still a kid with a lot to learn.”

Bale would end up joining Tottenham Hotspur in a £10 million deal the following year before going on to win four Champions Leagues with Real Madrid. Potter, who played 17 times for Liverpool without ever starting a league game, is currently on the books at neighbours Tranmere Rovers having previously played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons and Rotherham United.

Cristiano Ronaldo

“Liverpool are one of the best clubs in England and it would be a dream for any player to represent a club of such traditions. I will have to hope they make an offer that is good for both Sporting and myself,” a teenage Ronaldo told reporters in 2003.

Close tabs had been kept on the gifted Portuguese winger over the course of that year. Both manager Gerard Houllier and assistant Phil Thompson had travelled over to watch the Sporting Lisbon youngster in action.

“He was being touted around everyone,” Thompson tells The Athletic. “Tony Henry, the former Man City midfielder, was working for (agent) Paul Stretford, who was tasked by Jorge Mendes to drum up interest in England.

“They were desperate to get Ronaldo out of Sporting and invited me over for a game. I was told the fee was £4 million but they explained that it could be paid over the course of a four-year contract so essentially it was £1 million per year.

“I asked what kind of salary he would want and they said it was £1 million per year after tax. That was a lot for an 18-year-old kid but they said that was negotiable.

“It was a Sunday and I explained to them that I needed to go back to Liverpool and speak to Gerard Houllier and see what we could do. I fed all the information back to Gerard, who said he would speak to [chief executive] Rick Parry.

“Lo and behold, the following week I’m at Melwood when the yellow ticker on Sky Sports News says, ‘Manchester United sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting for £12.2 million.’ I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“How had the fee gone up from £4 million to £12.2 million in a few days? Gerard asked me to phone Tony to find out what had gone on. Tony told me that when he’d got off the plane on the Monday he had got a call to say he was off the deal. It was down to Stretford and Mendes instead.

“It was astonishing that the fee trebled. He was clearly a big talent but no one could have predicted back then how great he was going to be.”

At the time Liverpool felt like they had two special teenage forwards of their own in Florent Sinama Pongolle (who would score nine senior goals for the club) and Anthony Le Tallec (one goal). Houllier also had concerns that signing Ronaldo would have affected the club’s wage structure and caused issues in the dressing room.

Sergio Aguero

The Argentinean striker had made the breakthrough into the senior ranks with Independiente in his homeland when he caught the eye of Liverpool’s South American scouts.

“We watched him when he was 16 or 17 and he had everything,” one member of Rafa Benitez’s backroom staff tells The Athletic. “The word was that Aguero was going to be the next big thing from Argentina. His movement, his touch, his finishing were all brilliant.”

Liverpool were quoted £16 million by Independiente.

“At the time that was a problem,” he continues. “That was a massive chunk of the entire summer transfer budget and it just couldn’t be justified for a player who wasn’t ready to come in and play straightaway. Every signing at that point needed to be able to improve the team immediately.”

Aguero would end up joining Atletico Madrid for €20 million in 2007 before lighting up the Premier League on his arrival at Manchester City for £35 million four years later.

Alan Shearer

“We got used. It happens,” recalls former Liverpool assistant manager Thompson about the club’s pursuit of the Newcastle United striker in the summer of 2003.

At the time Shearer was in the midst of a contract dispute with his deal due to expire after the coming season.

“I remember Gerard Houllier saying to me, ‘Phil, we can sign Alan Shearer.’ My immediate reaction was, ‘Come off it, we’ve got no chance,’” Thompson says. “I told Gerard he was using our interest to get a better deal there but he was adamant. ‘No Phil, he wants to come here.’

“We approached Newcastle and told them that if he didn’t sign a new contract we wanted first shout on him. Within 24 hours he’d got a better contract offer from Newcastle and was staying put.

“I had to tell Gerard, ‘I told you so.’ It was one of the few things I got right! I remember Shearer rang and Gerard put him on a conference call. His first words were. ‘I wasn’t using you.’ I just looked at Gerard…

“For the sake of an extra 12 months, he was never going to risk damaging his reputation with the Geordies.”

Dani Alves

The deal was done. In the summer of 2006, Sevilla agreed to sell the Brazilian right-back to Liverpool for £8 million. However, Benitez encountered a problem. He was informed by the board that he would have to pick between Alves and buying a new striker — Liverpool couldn’t afford both.

With extra firepower a necessity, the Spaniard opted to push ahead with the £9 million purchase of Dirk Kuyt from Feyenoord instead. With a heavy heart, plans to bring Alves on board were ditched.

Alves ended up staying at Sevilla for another two years before joining Barcelona for £30 million. At the Nou Camp, he won six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues.

“There were a lot of times during the Benitez era when either there wasn’t enough money there to get deals over the line or the club just didn’t move quickly enough,” one source close to the club’s transfer negotiations in that era tells The Athletic.

“Simao Sabrosa and Florent Malouda both spring to mind. We could have got them. At one point we felt we were favourites for Nemanja Vidic but then Manchester United stumped up more cash.

“James McCarthy, who was a teenager playing for Hamilton, came down to Melwood and played in a behind closed doors game. He chipped Jerzy Dudek from 35 yards. It wasn’t much fee-wise but the club wouldn’t sanction it.” Head of academy recruitment Malcolm Elias felt the club already had better in their youth ranks.

A similar stance meant Liverpool dallied in their pursuit of Aaron Ramsey when he was at Cardiff City.

“We could have got him for £500,000,” the source continues. “Robbie Fowler was at Cardiff at the time. He had sold the club to him and got him on board. But it dragged on and as Cardiff went on a cup run [which took them all the way to the 2008 FA Cup final] the price kept on going up. Arsenal ended up paying £5 million for him.”

John Terry

Liverpool had just been beaten to the final Champions League place by Chelsea in a straight shootout at Stamford Bridge on the last day of the 2002-03 season when Houllier made an audacious approach for their English centre-back.

Initially, there was genuine hope that he might be successful.

“Chelsea were in financial trouble at the time and John hadn’t signed a new contract,” recalls Thompson. “Gerard said to me, ‘What do you think?’ I said he would be perfect. John was still only a young lad but he was fantastic. He wasn’t blessed with great pace but he read the game so well and was clearly going to be a top centre-half.

“After the game Gerard had a quiet word with John and asked if he’d like to play for Liverpool. The response was positive.

“Gerard sent [director of scouting] Alex Miller to get his agent’s details and he came back from the players’ lounge with John’s mobile number.

“Then a few weeks later Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and suddenly they had all this money. John and Frank Lampard both got big new contracts.”

Chelsea’s new-found wealth also meant that Liverpool missed out on Damien Duff that summer as they triggered the winger’s £17 million release clause at Blackburn Rovers. “The maximum price we could afford was around the £12 million mark,” recalls then-chief exec Parry.
 

Zoran

Fighting like beavers.
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Eric Cantona, Terry Sheringham and Peter Schmeichel

Three Manchester United legends, but they could easily have ended up at Anfield instead. Cantona was recommended to then-manager Graeme Souness by France counterpart Michel Platini after a UEFA Cup tie against French club Auxerre in November 1991.

“He said he had a player for me; a problem boy but a proper player,” Souness recalls. “It was Cantona, but I said the last thing I needed was another problem player. I had 30-pluses I was trying to get out so I didn’t need more hassle. I said I was looking for something else and so it was no thanks.”

Liverpool chief scout Ron Yeats told Souness about a talented young Danish goalkeeper called Schmeichel who was a fan of the club and willing to pay his own travel if he was granted a trial at Melwood.

“I was trying to ease out Bruce Grobbelaar and that was proving a hassle, so I thought I could do without a rookie keeper,” Souness explains.

Schmeichel went to Old Trafford instead, and Liverpool signed David James the following summer.

Souness’ successor, Roy Evans, was blocked from signing Teddy Sheringham from Tottenham because the board fell that he was too old. Liverpool’s loss proved to be Manchester United’s gain as they later paid £3.5 million for the 31-year-old frontman in 1997.

“I thought Teddy would have been ideal for us,” Evans tells The Athletic. “I had a young team and his experience really would have really helped us. Not just on the pitch but off it too.

“Peter Robinson [then-chief executive] spoke to the board and they felt it couldn’t be justified financially because of Teddy’s age. He was nearly 30 [at the time]. They wanted us to buy younger players.

“It was a shame because Teddy was keen and he was a player I really liked. I think he would have fitted in well but it wasn’t to be. He went on to have many more years at the highest level.”

Lee Bowyer

The pursuit of Bowyer in 2002 was controversial with Liverpool supporters after his well-publicised disciplinary issues at Leeds United. However, Houllier felt the tough-tackling midfielder was exactly what his side needed and a £9 million fee was agreed.

Liverpool believed Bowyer would be grateful for the opportunity to resurrect his career at the highest level and were left stunned by the attitude of the player and his agent as demands over personal terms dragged on.

“He thought he was Ronaldo!” jokes Thompson. “Bowyer should have been delighted that a club like Liverpool wanted to sign him but he was dragging his heels.

“He just didn’t seem committed to it so I told Gerard and Rick [Parry], ‘We need to pull the plug on this.’ And we did.”

Bowyer ended up joining West Ham United the following January and suffered relegation with the Londoners that season.

Gabriel Heinze

A row erupted between Liverpool and arch-rivals Manchester United in the summer of 2007. Heinze had been told he could find a new club if they paid £6.8 million for his services and his heart was set on Anfield. For Benitez, the deal to sign the experienced Argentina defender was a no-brainer.

Discussions were so far advanced that an apartment in Liverpool had already been sorted for Heinze. However, Alex Ferguson erupted at the prospect of him moving to Anfield and insisted that price tag only applied to non-domestic rivals.

The case went to a tribunal and, much to Liverpool’s disgust, United won.

“It should have been straightforward as the clause was there but somehow the case went in their favour,” a Liverpool source close to those discussions tells The Athletic.

“We could have taken it further and we wanted to. But Heinze thought, ‘Fuck this, it’s too much like hard work’ and signed for Real Madrid instead. You could hardly blame him.”

Gareth Barry

The plan was to sell Xabi Alonso and replace him with left-sided Aston Villa midfielder Barry. The deal looked set to happen in the summer of 2008 but trying to thrash out an agreement with Villa proved problematic.

“Martin O’Neill was very clever. He turned it into a war and we lost,” an Anfield source recalls.

In the end, both Alonso and Barry stayed where they were for a further 12 months. When Alonso pushed through a £30 million move to Real Madrid, Benitez made another move for Barry.

“The deal was done but then Barry turned his phone off and we couldn’t get hold of him,” the source continues. “It turned out Manchester City had offered him more money and he went there instead.”

The Brendan Rodgers years

The Northern Irishman’s tenure at Anfield was full of tales of what might have been on the recruitment front.

Initially, there was a strong focus on investing in untapped potential. When they showed greater ambition, Liverpool often found they didn’t have either the financial might or the pulling power to get a host of deals over the line.

Moves for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anzhi Makhachkala winger Willian failed to materialise in the summer of 2013. Mkhitaryan opted to join Borussia Dortmund and Willian went to Chelsea instead.

There was excitement in that same window when Liverpool triggered the £21.8 million release clause of Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. However, Costa’s representatives simply used their interest to get him a lucrative new contract at Atletico.

Liverpool also tried to sign Shay Given from Aston Villa that summer to compete with Simon Mignolet for the No 1 jersey but Villa wouldn’t sanction it.

“It was all completely baffling and frustrating,” Given detailed in his autobiography Any Given Saturday. “The reasons why Villa wouldn’t let me go have never been made clear to me. I’m as in the dark about it today as I was then. I don’t know if it was my wages that stopped the deal or whether it was the fact Randy Lerner was American, like Liverpool’s owners. Had they had some beef in the past? I’ve no idea, you’ll have to ask them. What I do know is that chances to move to clubs like Liverpool do not come around every day and it remains a massive disappointment that I couldn’t go.”

The following January, Liverpool lost out to Chelsea in the race for Mohamed Salah, then of Basel, before focusing their attentions on Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger Yevhen Konoplyanka.

Managing director Ian Ayre spent deadline day in Ukraine desperately trying to get that transfer done. It should have been relatively straightforward after meeting the £15 million buyout clause. The Ukraine international also passed a medical and agreed a long-term contract with Liverpool.

However, Ayre found Dnipro’s multi-billionaire owner Ihor Kolomoyskyi a nightmare to deal with. As the hours ticked away, suddenly calls were going unanswered and Kolomoyskyi point blank refused to sign the relevant paperwork.

Dnipro tried to claim the issue was that the first instalment of £5 million hadn’t been paid into the specified account as required before the deadline. But Liverpool produced statements proving that to be untrue. Kolomoyskyi just couldn’t bring himself to lose one of his prized assets. Konoplyanka ended up staying and helping Dnipro reach the 2015 Europa League final before joining Sevilla as a free agent a few weeks later.

Arguably the most baffling, scattergun search for a player in Anfield history was the pursuit of Luis Suarez’s replacement in the summer of 2014. Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez was the top target but he spurned their advances and opted for Arsenal instead as he informed Ayre that his wife would only leave the Catalan city for London.

Next the focus turned to Queens Park Rangers’ Loic Remy, and they triggered his £8.5 million release clause. The Frenchman flew to Boston to join Rodgers’ squad on their pre-season tour of America, agreed a contract, underwent a medical and was promised the iconic No 7 shirt. Told it would take a couple of days to process all the paperwork, he and his wife went on a shopping spree in New York.

By the time the tour moved on to Chicago, Remy was supposed to be unveiled but it soon became clear there was an issue. Scans had flagged up a heart condition and Liverpool decided it was too great a risk to go through with the transfer. Chelsea signed him instead.

Next on the list was Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony but his wage demands of £100,000 per week — coupled with a £19 million asking price — put paid to that.

Overly-ambitious enquiries were made and rebuffed for Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. With the deadline looming and Rickie Lambert the only new attacker on board, Rodgers had a straight choice between Samuel Eto’o and Mario Balotelli. He opted for the latter.

During a period when there was regularly friction between Rodgers and other members of the club’s transfer committee, there were others that he targeted but wasn’t given the green light to buy.

In 2012 Rodgers was willing to swap Jordan Henderson for Fulham’s Clint Dempsey but the owners refused to sanction the pursuit of the USA international. He wanted Ashley Williams and Ryan Bertrand but got Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno instead.

He was also frustrated that Liverpool failed to meet MK Dons’ demands for Dele Alli in January 2015. Tottenham ended up buying him for an initial fee of £5 million.

The ones that escaped the grasp of Jurgen Klopp

Shrewd recruitment has been key to Liverpool’s sustained rise under Klopp. With Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon, sporting director Michael Edwards and Klopp working closely together, they have moved swiftly and effectively to secure most of their targets with a minimum of fuss.

Having a coherent strategy, more money in the coffers, Champions League football on offer and the Klopp factor has certainly helped.

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing when it comes to the transfer market, especially in the early stages of the German’s reign. In January 2016, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Alex Teixeira was pinpointed as the first major signing of the Klopp era.

Liverpool tabled an offer of £24.6 million for the Brazilian forward and Ayre flew out to try to wrap up a deal at the Ukrainian club’s warm weather training camp in Florida. Shakhtar responded by demanding £40 million. At the time FSG came under fire for not backing Klopp sufficiently but the truth was that the manager pulled the plug himself, insisting Teixeira didn’t merit that kind of price tag, and Ayre flew home.

The following week, Teixeira joined Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning for £40 million. Four years on, he’s still there having scored 63 goals in 133 matches.

In the summer of 2016, Klopp tried for reunions with both Mario Gotze and Christian Pulisic, who had played for him at Borussia Dortmund. However, interest in Gotze was ended when he told Klopp he wanted to keep his options open until after the imminent European Championship while an £11 million offer for Pulisic was instantly rejected by Dortmund.

Klopp held talks with Julian Draxler ahead of the January window in 2017 but the Germany international opted for the riches on offer at Paris Saint-Germain. His pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt also ended in disappointment with the player concerned that he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter.

Instead of Gotze and Brandt, Liverpool wrapped up deals for Sadio Mane and, three-and-a-half years on, Salah.

By the summer of 2017, Edwards was leading the transfer negotiations with Ayre having left the club.

That was a successful window overall with Salah, Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain brought on board but on deadline day Liverpool were trying to add Thomas Lemar to that list. The situation was complicated by the fact the Monaco midfielder was at Clairefontaine preparing for France’s World Cup qualifier that night against Holland. Liverpool had already had bids of £55 million and £64 million turned down with the price continuing to rise.

Medical staff were dispatched to Paris to carry out a medical if a compromise could be reached but with Arsenal joining the race Monaco’s demands rocketed to £90 million. In the end, Lemar stayed put for another year before joining Atletico Madrid for €60 million (around £52 million).

The most infamous saga of Klopp’s reign to date was undoubtedly their pursuit of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir in the summer of 2018. A £53 million deal was agreed with the medical completed in Paris and a five-year contract sorted.

The France international midfielder posed in a Liverpool shirt for photos, conducted the traditional unveiling interview with club media and staff were informed about an anticipated time for an official announcement. Yet behind the scenes there was late drama. Scans had flagged up concerns about an old knee injury and Liverpool sought a second opinion.

The advice was that the manner in which Fekir’s ruptured right knee ACL had been repaired in 2015 meant there was a high risk he would suffer the same injury again. Gordon, Edwards and Klopp agreed it was just too much of a gamble considering the financial commitment at stake and the deal was shelved.

Furious Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas claimed publicly that it was his club who had ended negotiations but that simply didn’t stand up to scrutiny. Fekir ended up joining Real Betis last summer for around £18 million.

Under Klopp, there’s been no reason to rue the ones that got away. It’s those players, rather than Liverpool, who have been left wondering what might have been.