- Jun 2, 2008
May sound odd but I actually think Sancho is a little younger than what the club/Klopp would consider "ideal". Most of our signings seem to be in the 23-27 age bracket (Minimino, Alisson, Keita, Fabinho, Shaqiri, Salah, Mane, Firmino, van Dijk, Chamberlain, Robertson etc.) and I think there are legitimate reasons for that...You're right that we do have around 4 years to find replacements before the front 3 start to decline. That said, it's important to remember that top players aren't available every summer, certainly not those in the age bracket and quality of Sancho. The last time that happened was when Leroy Sané was available in 2016 (Dembele and João Felix to lesser extents in 2017 and 2019 respectively). Can we pass up he opportunity to sign a homegrown player like Sancho in the hope that we can find as good a player in the 2-3 years after that?
1. By this time in their career they will have taken some knocks and, hopefully, proven they can bounce back which a teenager who had flown through a youth academy and into first team football with relative ease might not have had.
2. As the player is a little older there is a perception that they are not "prospects" anymore and that (in the bizarre and illogical transfer market we have now) reduces their cost instead of increases it.
3. The core of the squad, and all the best players, are roughly the same age. There are not significant generational differences between a 25 year old and a 29 year old but there will be with a 29 year old and a 19 year old. Not that teenagers aren't welcome in the dressing room, clearly we use them in our squad, but we don't seem to want to rely on extremely young players to be key cogs.
None of that is to say that we wouldn't or shouldn't pursue a player like Sancho but I think our M.O. is more about signing the guys who took a few knocks at 18/19 - maybe had a transfer that didn't work, or were released by a club - than it is to sign the guys who have had it easy based on their natural talent.
I think of Paul Pogba. Strolled through United's academy (there is nonsense about Morrison being the better player at that age, no he wasn't), went to Juve with United practically begging him to stay. Strolled around Juve's midfield and was the most talented player on the pitch. Went back to Man Utd as the biggest football celebrity in the world and now can't seem to summon up the appetite to play at all, and when he does he doesn't have any of the identity that took him there, he's bored and lost and disinterested. For all his talent he wasn't really mentally tested until he was in his mid 20s and all of a sudden he couldn't hack it. His mind has quit on him.
By contrast the same summer Pogba returned to Man Utd, Liverpool signed Gini Wijnaldum for less than 1/4th of the price. Wijnaldum came to us after just being relegated with Newcastle and a section of supporters putting blame on him for "downing tools". He has worked his arse off everyday he has been here and developed into one of the best all around midfielders in Europe.
I think that is our model. So, the "replacements" for our big players are probably already being scouted but they are likely not shining right now. They are more likely to be 18 years old and barely getting a game for their club in Switzerland then they are to be the Sancho/Felix wonderkid type.