Chelsea already offered Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool two big takeover clues as £274m record set
The news that Fenway Sports Group have put Liverpool up for sale comes just five months after Todd Boehly completed his takeover of Chelsea.
For FSG, that deal will set a benchmark, with John Henry reportedly demanding at least £3bn to part with LFC after watching Boehly buy Chelsea for £2.5bn (via The Times).
And for supporters, it will also offer some clues as to what might happen next if indeed Liverpool is to change hands. First and foremost, they might well see a lavish spending spree in the summer transfer market.
In mid-July, Chelsea kicked off their window with a £47.5m deal for Manchester City’s four-time Premier League winner Raheem Sterling, quickly followed by a £34m move for Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, long established as one of Europe’s best centre-backs.
Then, at the start of August, they raised eyebrows by shelling out £62m on Brighton’s Marc Cucurella, just a year on from his arrival at Brighton.
The month would end with a £70m swoop for Leicester’s Wesley Fofana, making him the third-most expensive defender in PL history behind Harry Maguire and Virgil van Dijk.
And finally, Deadline Day saw the £12m arrival of Barcelona striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, seen as a guaranteed source of goals in the English top-flight.
Add in deals for young talents Gabriel Slonina (£12m), Cesare Casadei (£16m) and Carney Chukwuemeka (£20m), and Chelsea’s spending comes to just shy of £274m — the largest single-window outlay for one club in the history of football (via Evening Standard).
This could be read as an almighty statement that was bound to garner the near-unanimous support of the Chelsea fanbase. Indeed, Boehly won’t be able to sustain this level of spending, but wanted to demonstrate his ability to bring in both A-list superstars and elite young talents
While his primary objective may have been to furnish then-manager Thomas Tuchel with the tools to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, there was a clear symbolic value in the historic window too.
There were also plenty of outgoings at Chelsea — not just players, but also key figures in the club’s existing hierarchy.
Chairman Bruce Buck, technical and performance advisor Petr Cech, director Marina Granovskaia and chief executive Guy Lawrence all left the club in the month following Boehly’s takeover.
With the structure effectively ripped out, Boehly would serve as both chairman and director of football in his first summer at the helm.
Tuchel was safe initially, having won the Champions League just a year earlier, but by September 9, he was sacked, and Boehly brought in ‘his man’ in the form of Graham Potter.
The American has now begun filling the various boardroom vacancies in West London too, capturing AS Monaco technical director Laurence Stewart and counterpart Christopher Vivell, formerly of RB Leipzig. Talks are ongoing with Brighton’s head of recruitment Paul Winstanley (via The Athletic).
Could Liverpool’s prospective new owners conduct a similar overhaul?
Well, the manager is probably safe, given that he’s established himself as one of the very best in the world. Any buyer would surely view Jürgen Klopp as one of the club’s biggest assets, if not the biggest, though the same might have been said for Tuchel in the spring.
In terms of the recruitment operation, though, there is an important difference between Liverpool and Chelsea. There have been a number of high-profile failures at Stamford Bridge in recent times, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all failing to live up to expectations.
But at Anfield, there have been so many hits, and so few misses, that the club have come to be regarded as transfer specialists across Europe. There are no doubt other elite sides, perhaps including Chelsea, looking on with envy.
The hope, then, will be that the existing staff are empowered with more funds, rather than replaced, but the reality is that regime change almost always brings significant personnel change, even for those who are most effective in their roles.
Granovskaia, for instance, was renowned across the game for her excellent negotiation skills, but was still allowed to leave.
A takeover, then, will surely bring upheaval both on and off the pitch, and while that can be a source of excitement, there should be a degree of trepidation too.
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