With the news of Liverpool Football Club signing Sunderland’s 20-year-old star Jordan Henderson, the transfers have officially begun. Many in the media are already bemoaning the hefty transfer fee of what is said to be £20 million for the talented youngster. But the club wasted no time in sealing their first transfer deal of the summer and no matter what, with this bold and logical approach of snapping up Britain’s best talent, Liverpool will be winners. Whether it’s now, or a few years down the line, the strategy Dalglish is implementing will pay off.
The opinions being spouted in the media (and they are only that, opinions), is that Liverpool have now overpaid on potential talents not once, but twice. First in January on Andy Carroll and now in June on Jordan Henderson. Putting aside the fact that everyone must overpay for young English players, such is the inflation and premium they command, Liverpool have not overpaid for anyone just yet.
Buying any player is always a gamble. No one will ever know if the player will fit into the team or not, if they will get injured, if they will perform as well as they have in the past, etc. But buying a young, gifted, English player for perhaps more money than a mid to late 20′s English or foreign one offers two advantages.
The first would be that the potential resale on the player down the line is always going to be higher. Buying a player at 20, getting four or five good years out of them and selling them on for a profit at 25 is a genuine long-term strategy. Key examples of this would be Fernando Torres and David Ngog. Bought young, and sold for massive profits.
The second advantage is the obvious one: they have youth on their side. Of course not every 18, 19, or 20 year-old with amazing potential will succeed in the long run, but they have every opportunity to do so with plenty of time to learn and develop ahead of them.
I won’t pretend that I know a lot about Jordan Henderson right now, but from what I’ve read, he has a wonderful range of passing and the ability to distribute with thought and accuracy. Journalist Iain Macintosh reckons he is of the “Alonso school of play.” Whether he turns out to be as good as Alonso remains to be seen. But the potential is there.
With Henderson, Liverpool have acquired their first big signing of the transfer window. And it would appear that Kenny Dalglish is not stopping there. If rumors and conjecture turn out to be true, than Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, and Connor Wickham will follow hot on the heels of young Henderson.
The pattern coming into focus with Dalglish and Comolli’s strategy is not just “buy young English players,” but to buy young, gifted, and versatile players. Henderson is essentially a central midfielder, but he can also operate successfully elsewhere. The same goes for Adam, Meireles, Gerrard, Suarez, Kuyt, and Downing. And just look at the ability of Glen Johnson to switch to left-back as if it was his natural position.
The team is being built with and around players that have the ability to not just play one position in one formation, but to play in multiple positions in various formations. This is what creates pass and move football, and this is what Dalglish wants to achieve.
Like everyone else, I have my doubts about players until they have had some time to really prove themselves. On top of this, with Henderson and the others rumored to be added to the squad, I’m not sure how the team will gel and who exactly will be in the starting eleven. But the fact that there will be options and selection headaches is what every big team needs and wants. Liverpool’s squad has been poor over the years and now finally looks set to have genuine strength in multiple areas on the pitch.
Dalglish and Comolli have already taken this team leaps and bounds ahead of where they were last summer. We’ve traded OAP’s for youthful, promising talent. The intent being shown in this transfer window indicates that Liverpool are preparing themselves to once again be a force to be reckoned with. Let the rest of the transfers commence.