Once again, the deadline headline is Liverpool's hands forced by Chelsea's last-minute pillaging. Unable to get Modric or Moutinho, Chelsea settled for yet another Liverpool player who scored the most-recent winner against them. With less than half an hour left in the window, Meireles' transfer request was made public and a £12m deal announced. Takes some of the shine off the most successful transfer window in recent history.
Meireles was going to be a squad player this season. A versatile, useful squad player, but a squad player nonetheless. Gerrard, Suarez, and Henderson are preferred behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1. Gerrard, Lucas, Adam, and Henderson are preferred in central midfield. Kuyt, Henderson and Downing are preferred on the right, and Downing, Maxi, and now Bellamy are preferred on the left. Liverpool have depth to cover all the positions Meireles could cover, but more cover is usually more better, especially with Meireles' clear talents. He linked (and seemed to get along) brilliantly with Suarez, Maxi, and Lucas and was one of last season's few revelations until Dalglish took the reins. But he understandably wanted a raise, FSG understandably didn't want to give him one (or one as large as he wanted), and Liverpool made a small bit of money on a 28-year-old back-up after one good year. C'est la guerre. Shelvey will get his minutes. My lone concern is how it affects squad harmony, but Dalglish doesn't seem to have a problem dealing with that.
As to Liverpool's other business of the day, I'm pleased to see Bellamy's return. Yes, he's 32. Yes, you can probably hear his knees creak from three rooms away. But he's still got bags of pace when fit, can lead the line or play on either wing (he's far better on the left), and is a tricky, creative game winner. I still have no clue why City were so eager to get rid after Bellamy was their player of the season in 2009-10 (hint: Mancini). And the dark side is strong in this one – just like Suarez – which I'm always in favor of. The fear is Bellamy's competitiveness will upset the ship if he's not consistently in the side, but one would assume he's had the future spelled out for him clearly. Plus, defending a front-line of Suarez, Kuyt, and Bellamy will be like trying to herd a swarm of bees. I cannot wait to see it.
Overall, the summer's business in total, according to LFC History:
The above chart only includes those who played for the first team, if only sparingly, so fees for Ince and Mavinga aren't included. Rory Smith, of the Telegraph, writes that Liverpool recouped something around £25m from sales this summer. More important were the savings to the wage bill – around £30m over the lives of those players' contracts. By my quick back of the envelope math, using extremely rough estimates, those 13 who actually played for the first team would probably have cost Liverpool around £12m in wages this season. That's a fair bit extra into the transfer kitty.
Liverpool paid out £54m in fees for seven players, but the two over 30 – Doni and Bellamy – were free transfers, fitting into FSG's frequently-misunderstood Moneyball philosophy. Adam, Coates, Downing, Enrique, and Henderson all have their best days ahead of them, and four of the five have already impressed in Liverpool's first matches.
Which takes FSG's total spending to around £113m while recouping about £75m. Just under £40m to turn Torres, Babel, Konchesky, Ayala, El Zhar, Aquilani, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Jovanovic, Poulsen, Cole, Ngog, Degen, Pacheco, and Meireles into Suarez, Carroll, Henderson, Adam, Downing, Doni, Enrique, Coates, and Bellamy. That'll do, pig.
Yes, the club had to resort to loans and free transfers to get rid of the majority of useless players, but shifting the likes of Cole, Jovanovic, Poulsen, Degen, et al – those who added absolutely nothing to the squad – will save Liverpool a lot in unnecessary wages and headaches. Comolli earned his salary finding those suckers born every minute, and for once, thanks to the new owners, Liverpool were able to focus on quality instead of quantity.
A lot of clubs would have been forced to sell before buying, reducing overhead and overall numbers before bringing players in, but FSG opened the checkbook immediately. Getting Adam, Downing, and Henderson signed early allowed those players time to bed into the squad during preseason, and also meant that Liverpool weren't feverishly trawling for last-minute fallback options (cough Arsenal cough). And then Comolli went to work shifting dead weight. Success on all front. That rarely happens.
Aside from overwrought debates as to the necessity of Aquilani and Meireles, Liverpool fans haven't had to worry which player will turn into this window's Judas. We haven't spent the summer in fear of Reina's exit, for example, like with Mascherano the year before and Alonso the year before that. With Hicks and Gillett long gone, the days where Liverpool were "a selling club" are long gone as well. It was odd, but more than welcome, having such a stress-free summer.
As with the tactics, manager, and atmosphere, Liverpool's squad is now light years different than it was a year ago. Light years better.
That's why it was most successful transfer window in recent history.