The brutal £58m transfer blunder among three galling Liverpool summer window mistakes

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Liverpool have had far from an easy ride this transfer window and their drama is set to go right down to the wire.

Liverpool have all but managed to rectify their recent transfer blunders as they edge closer to a Deadline Day deal for Ryan Gravenberch. A fee has been agreed and the Bayern Munich midfielder is undergoing his medical today, with a confirmation the only thing left on the list.

In typical Reds fashion though, the club have had the fans sweating in their seats and biting their nails as the final days and hours of the transfer window have ticked down.

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Jurgen Klopp and his side have mainly enjoyed successful transfer windows in terms of spending big money on priority targets, and rarely seeing any key players on the outgoing list. However, the departure of Sadio Mané last year is looking a little like it was a red flag warning as a sign of things to come.

This window has been the most testing one for the Reds in recent years — just when something looked like it was going right, the footballing gods seemed to have other ideas. Klopp made it his mission to revamp his midfield and then out of the six player departures this summer, five of them were midfielders. Granted, three were released following the expiration of their contracts but seeing both Jordan Henderson and Fabinho leave for Saudi Arabia was probably not on many fans’ bingo cards.

Liverpool had kickstarted their window off pretty well when they splashed just short of £100 million on Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai. The new duo already looked like improvements on Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both struggled with form and fitness during their Anfield years. We will not be counting James Milner in that statement — Mr Versatile and Evergreen could play into his 50s if he really wanted to.

As a starting point, the Reds looked good. They’d stuck to their promise of prioritising a midfield restructure and brought in two very impressive names. But that’s around the time the aforementioned footballing gods decided Liverpool’s summer business would peak. After that, their luck plummeted. Not only did they lose their captain and first choice defensive midfielder, but every new transfer avenue they explored, no matter how winding the road was, ended up at a dead end.

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Liverpool have struggled to assert their dominance this window and their cheeks are probably burning after the hefty knockbacks they’ve been dealt. It’s so unlike the Reds, who are usually a hot spot for players wanting a move to the Premier League, but it seems their magic touch really lost its spark this summer.

The biggest blow was undoubtedly their failed move for long-standing target Roméo Lavia. Talks had been back and forth for weeks and Liverpool had put all their eggs in the Belgian’s basket. But despite Southampton making it abundantly clear that £50 million was the minimum they’d accept to part ways with the 19-year-old, the Reds just couldn’t bring themselves to match that asking price.

Romeo Lavia of Southampton looks on during his warm up prior to the Sky Bet Championship matchRomeo Lavia of Southampton looks on during his warm up prior to the Sky Bet Championship match
Romeo Lavia of Southampton looks on during his warm up prior to the Sky Bet Championship match | Getty Images

A total of three bids were tabled for the Saints midfielder, and each one was pushed away. The last offer Liverpool submitted was £48 million, which is quite mind-boggling when you really think about it. In the football world and for a club as big as Liverpool, £2 million is a very small amount of money in the grand scheme of things. Let’s not forget they had just pocketed more than £50 million through the sale of Henderson and Fabinho as well, so the funds were there.

In fact, the funds were there, and then some. They literally proved this themselves. While talks were still ongoing over Lavia, Liverpool burst in with a whopping £111 million bid for Brighton’s Moisés Caicedo like a bull in a china shop. The Seagulls, probably screeching with excitement over the cash on offer after letting Mac Allister go for £35 million, accepted immediately and a massive Chelsea hijack looked on.

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But not only did Caicedo state he wouldn’t be going anywhere unless it was to Stamford Bridge, Lavia then also decided Chelsea was the more appealing destination. So ultimately, Liverpool’s unnecessary feet-dragging cost them the signing of Lavia, and to make matters worse, their failed attempt at putting two fingers up to Chelsea blew up in their face so much harder than could have ever been expected. Just to rub salt in the wounds as well, the Blues offered £8 million more than Southampton’s asking price, flexing on their gung ho attitude towards spending in the transfer market.

Another missed opportunity worth mentioning is Jude Bellingham. Liverpool were at the front of the queue for the England international for quite a while and had made their interest very clear in acquiring his signature. However, they eventually pulled out due to his hefty asking price, which is now very much a hands-on-head moment for fans.

A British record amount of money was there to splurge on Caicedo, but not for Bellingham. Of course, the 20-year-old had his sights set on Real Madrid, but that’s a pretty standard narrative for any player. Madrid are, and always will be, the ultimate temptation club, and when they come knocking, it takes a lot to say no. But there was enough flirting between Bellingham and Liverpool that the Reds could have definitely given him a headache if they’d lodged an official move.

Jude Bellingham is tearing up La Liga with his new club Real Madrid Jude Bellingham is tearing up La Liga with his new club Real Madrid
Jude Bellingham is tearing up La Liga with his new club Real Madrid | AFP via Getty Images

The puzzling and almost hypocritical approaches have been Liverpool’s downfall this window. Not entertaining Bellingham’s fees but rushing in for Caicedo with a fistful of cash like a child who’s just been let loose with their birthday money...

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Dawdling over the sake of £2 million and ultimately losing their biggest target of the summer... It’s really not been the most fruitful window for the Reds but it’s been enough to give them a sharp kick up the backside.

Knowing time was not on their side, Liverpool have brought in Wataru Endō to pad out that diminished defensive midfield role and now are on the verge of securing Gravenberch as well. Five midfielders out, four in — not bad going when looking at it in black and white, but the finer details will be ones Klopp, the club and the fans will want to learn from and hope to never repeat again.

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