Liverpool will need a big summer transfer to refresh to get back to challenging for top honors. But the FSG plan is emerging, and there is a clear model to follow.
There is no doubt that Liverpool’s squad requires major surgery this summer with several first-team stars set to depart and reinforcements a necessity. However, the omens are good if the fortunes of one side this season are anything to go by.
Liverpool’s approach is starting to become a little clearer after it pulled out of the race to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham in favor of signing as many as three midfielders instead. That said, with three midfielders set to leave the club for nothing in the upcoming transfer window, before even factoring in any sales, one cannot underestimate the task facing the Reds’ recruitment team over the coming months.
Following a disappointing season on all four fronts, the pressure is massively now on the powers-that-be at Anfield to ensure that they have made the right call in stepping away from their pursuit of Bellingham. But if FSG gets things as right as Napoli did last summer, the decision will ultimately be seen as nothing short of a masterstroke.
With Luciano Spalletti’s side positively coasting to a first Scudetto since 1990, and having reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it is easy to overlook the fact that they effectively had more work to do last summer in the transfer market than Liverpool do this time around. Having taken the daring decision to cash in on a host of household names, it seems that the gamble has more than paid off for the Italian giant.
One may recall that the Neopolitans discarded a host of their key players of previous seasons, in the form of long-serving forwards Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, highly-rated midfielder Fabián Ruiz, and star defender Kalidou Koulibaly. They spread the funds raised through those departures to revamp an aging side.
In the attack, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Giacomo Raspadori, and Giovanni Simeone (on loan) came through the door. They were joined by midfielders André-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Tanguy Ndombele (also a loan), while defender Kim Min-Jae was also added to the ranks. There is no doubt that Napoli has reaped the rewards for its boldness in the months since.
It is worth noting that Napoli made a profit in last summer’s transfer window as well, with an outlay of $83m (£67m/€76m) offset by the recouping of $89m (£70m/€80m) back in sales. If one also takes into account the fact that Kim, so impressive at center-half this season, and key midfielder Anguissa cost Napoli just $19m (£16m/€18m) and $18m (£14m/€16m), respectively, it is clear that major value can be found in the positions which Liverpool are most desperately needing to revamp this summer.
The fact that Napoli sits some 16 points ahead of Lazio in second place in Serie A with only nine games tells its own story. Liverpool knows only too well how magnificent the Italians’ transformation has been during this campaign, having been on the receiving end of a 4-1 trouncing at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium back in September.
It would be fair to suggest that all of their major signings from last summer have made significant impacts this season as the Gli Azzurri have been incredibly impressive, both in domestic and continental competitions. Furthermore, the likes of Kvaratskhelia and Kim are comfortably worth triple what Spalletti paid for them just over a year ago.
There is no doubt that the task facing Liverpool this summer is sizable, but Napoli is a compelling example of a club that has used its cash extremely wisely, with the results have been quite extraordinary this season. Reds supporters will be disappointed to miss out on Bellingham this summer but if Klopp’s squad can be transformed to the same extent as the Serie A leaders this summer, then one imagines the complaints will be minimal.