Ghana's No. 1

Myth, maniac, Klopp and the people deciding Liverpool transfer plans

Published on: 20 March 2020

With just one senior transfer since the window closed in the summer of 2018, it's been a fairly quiet couple of years on the incoming front at Liverpool.

Since Alisson Becker was signed for an eye-watering £65million nearly two years ago, the Reds have only paid money for one senior player in the form of Takumi Minamino.

Free agent Adrian arrived last summer as a replacement for Simon Mignolet, but only youth prospects Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg have joined since Alisson made the move in July 2018.

That doesn't mean the club haven't been busy behind the scenes, however. In truth, the scouting and assessing of transfer targets never stops - even when you have a squad as settled as Liverpool's right now.

It could potentially be a busy summer for Liverpool, but just who are the key figures that will power the recruitment drive when the transfer window opens?

Jurgen Klopp

The man the buck stops with is the manager, Jurgen Klopp. The Reds boss, while having the last say on all transfer matters, readily admits he is all ears to other experts in this particular field.

"My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me," he once said. “That's no problem. I need experts around me.”

Klopp has built up a team around him at Melwood that enable him and the Reds to thrive. As the manager of Liverpool Football Club, Klopp quite simply does not have the endless hours needed to adequately track and scout every player who is on the club's radar.

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It was a question Klopp was asked about in his very first press conference as Liverpool manager.

Just how much input in transfer decisions will come from others and is he ready to work with the infamous transfer committee?

A committee that essentially still exists, even if its unwanted reputation doesn't after a string of successes these past four years.

"We talk about it of course but for me it is enough to have the first and the last word. The middle we can discuss," Klopp said.

“We only want to discuss very good players, discussing on the highest level. I am not a genius. I don't know more than the rest of the world. I need other people to get perfect information.”

Michael Edwards

The man, the myth...

Sporting director Michael Edwards has built up a sterling reputation during his time at Anfield thanks to a host of successful purchases that have helped transform the Reds from European also-rans to arguably the best club side in football.

Edwards' playing career never made it past Peterborough's reserves, but he moved into the scouting side of the game with Portsmouth in 2003, having earned a degree in business management and informatics at the University of Sheffield.

At Pompey he was taken on as an analyst, working with manager Harry Redknapp, fulfilling the role of ProZone analyst at Fratton Park.

He moved to Tottenham in 2009, working primarily as an opposition analyst, but followed Damien Comolli to Liverpool two years later.

He managed the analysis side for successive managers from Kenny Dalglish through Brendan Rodgers and now Klopp.

Appointed as the club's first ever sporting director back in November 2016, the 40-year-old Edwards opts to steer clear of the limelight, preferring to conduct business behind the scenes at Melwood.

The likes of Dominic Solanke (£19m), Mamadou Sakho (£26m), Danny Ings (£20m) and Danny Ward (£13m) have all been moved on at a significant profit at Anfield under Edwards' eagle-eyed watch.

Perhaps most impressively of all, the Reds negotiated a £142million fee for the outgoing Philippe Coutinho in January 2018, making the Brazilian the third most expensive footballer in history in the process.

With an office that sits opposite Klopp's at the Reds' West Derby training base, Edwards keeps updated on loan players while also building relationships with other clubs' officials.

His relationship with Red Bull Salzburg's Christoph Freund, for example, was key to Liverpool establishing the little-known £7.25million release clause inserted in Takumi Minamino's contract.

Edwards is likely to be in daily contact with his counter-parts as he attempts to secure the best possible transfer windows for Liverpool. His model for defining the value of the players the club are open to selling is very much worked around the latest market trends across football.

For example, Liverpool placed a £15million tag on Taiwo Awoniyi last summer, despite the Nigerian never getting close to a first-team start so far.

Despite his four years of inactivity at Anfield, Liverpool felt they are well placed to ask for as much as £15m for the young striker after CSKA Moscow made an enquiry back in July.

Earlier that summer, Aston Villa struck a club-record deal to sign Club Brugge's Brazilian striker Wesley for a fee of around £22m.

The Brazilian struck 17 goals in all competitions for the Belgians, with 10 of them coming in the domestic league, while Leandro Trossard, who moved to Brighton that same summer for £17m, bagged 11 for his side in the same league.

In comparison, Awoniyi, who played for Gent and Mouscron across that season, netted seven times in 25 appearances in total. It is this framework that enables Edwards to drive a hard bargain when it comes to offloading at Anfield.

Mike Gordon

As president of Fenway Sports Group, Mike Gordon acts as the bridge between Liverpool's key UK and American figures. He is their most visible presence within the club, regularly taking trans-Atlantic trips from Boston to Merseyside.

The American was at Anfield in February to witness the 4-0 win over Southampton and he was also in the city in December when Klopp put the finishing touches on his contract extension.

Gordon is the club's second largest shareholder and the most hands-on of FSG in terms of running the club. He was a key figure in the signing of Virgil van Dijk, smoothing over relations with Southampton after the troubles of 2017.

He was central in the hiring of Klopp as manager, and the pair continue to share a good working relationship.

Gordon was installed on the Liverpool's board of directors when FSG bought the club and since 2012, when he increased his stake in FSG, he has spent more and more of his time on this side of the Atlantic.

Barry Hunter

Barry Hunter was Manchester City's European regional scouting manager from December 2008 through to October 2012 before becoming chief scout at Liverpool.

It is understood that the scouting department work to a system that sees them scour the market for two transfer windows ahead, meaning potential targets for this summer have already been extensively assessed.

Hunter's professional career saw him turn out for Wrexham, Reading and Rushden and Diamonds. He also claimed 14 caps for Northern Ireland.

Liverpool's chief scout started out for Blackburn in 2006 and joined Norwich in 2008 before moving to Man City where he was the club's scout for Italy, Switzerland and Russia.

He moved to Anfield under the watch of Brendan Rodgers who he knew from their days together at Reading.

Dave Fallows

Poached from Manchester City following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers in 2012, Fallows is Liverpool's head of scouting and recruitment, responsible for coordinating the club's worldwide network of talent-spotters with regards to potential transfer targets.

He works closely with Barry Hunter, the club's chief scout, to attend matches, gather information and compile detailed player reports which are accessed by Edwards, Klopp and others.

Speaking in November 2018, Klopp credited Fallows and Hunter with playing key roles in the decision to sign Mo Salah from Roma last summer.

"We were sure he can help us," Klopp said of Salah. "Michael Edwards, Dave Fallows and Barry, they were really in my ear and were on it: 'Come on, come on, Mo Salah, he's the solution'.

"When you have 20 players on the table, different players, it's difficult to make an early decision, but we all were convinced about it so could make the early decision so we could really get him. He's a fantastic person, a nice lad and a really good football player."

John Actherberg

If Liverpool are to sign a goalkeeper this summer, of any age-range or ability, Actherberg's input will be vital. A man Klopp describes affectionately as a "goalkeeping maniac" the former Tranmere Rovers shot-stopper was integral to the signing of Alisson Becker in 2018.

He is known to spend hours keeping up with the latest developments in the specialist position and his database is jam-packed with upcoming keepers from across the planet.

"You have to look at any you don't know, obviously you know most of them all already, but it if you don't, you take a look and see how they are moving," he told the ECHO last year.

"If one game is enough [to judge] then you leave it but if you think you need to catch more, that is how you have a look.

"I have about four of five thousand reports from some keepers you watch 10 or 15 times and then you stay on top of it.

"If you think they can be OK for us then you have to keep following them and you always have to prepare for a No.1, 2 or 3. And then in between you try to find keepers who are younger."

The Dutchman is known for having an encyclopedic knowledge of goalkeepers from across the world, and his opinion is both sought and valued by Klopp.

Source: m.allfootballapp.com

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