Two in, two out. We'd known about Babel exit's and Suarez's signing but today saw Torres push his way out and Andy Carroll joining for a rumored £35m. In addition, Liverpool weren't able to pry Charlie Adam from Blackpool. Combined, the outlay on Suarez and Carroll almost exactly equals what was recouped from selling Torres and Babel. Yet another window where Liverpool fails to spend significantly, I guess...
Had you told me at the beginning of the window that Liverpool would end January having replaced Torres and Babel with Suarez and Carroll, I'm not sure how I would have reacted. With time to come to terms with Torres' mercenary exit – which merited its own post – I'm happy with what Liverpool's recouped, even if they had to pay far over the odds to do so. Adding Adam to the mix would have made the day complete.
Liverpool were forced into steep prices by Torres' late demand. Carroll's price comes as the largest surprise – only seven players have cost more: the aforementioned Torres, C Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Kaka, Zidane, Figo, and Crespo. But you pay a premium for strikers. You pay a premium for youth. You pay a premium for a British passport. And you pay a premium in January, especially on the last day of the window.
At 22, Carroll represents both a leap of faith and investment in the future. He's about the same age as Torres, Alonso, Mascherano, and Reina were when they signed, and the first three on that list help demonstrate the resale value of a player at that age. If Carroll progresses and Liverpool were somehow forced to sell, they recoup their crazy money. If FSG are willing to pay, so be it. While £35m doesn't fit with "Moneyball ethics" on face value, that money's might be better spent in January before the UEFA Financial Fair Play requirements kick in over the summer. Plus, Liverpool needed a replacement now. The last time Kenny Dalglish broke the British record for a Geordie – Beardsley for £1.9m in 1987 – it turned out alright.
Right now, Liverpool isn't geared towards an aerially dominant striker. Gerrard, Johnson and Aurelio are good crossers, while Maxi and Kuyt have their moments, but Liverpool's best football over the last six years has come when keeping it on the floor. Buying Carroll is a deal that Roy Hodgson would love to have done: a gargantuan striker used to having long balls lumped in his direction. Carroll is more than an ox, with the clichéd good touch for a big man, but he brings talents Liverpool haven't often had.
Assuming Dalglish continues with the 4-3-3, Liverpool's best XI is probably:
Kelly Carragher Agger Johnson
Gerrard Lucas Meireles
Kuyt Carroll Suarez
That could be a frightening team. Bringing in Adam would have allowed Gerrard to be pushed forward, adding a better passer to the mix, but the above's still a tantalizing prospect. The summer's business will assuredly center on buying a winger.
Not that grand dramatic gestures are required, but today's a statement of intent from FSG. It's ambitious and almost reactionary from a group that's been exceptionally deliberative so far.