31 January 2011

Crazy Money and Andy Carroll

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.


lonelyportrait said...

At least now the dust settled we'll certainly know we'd have to get a proper winger (finally!) in the summer.

When was the last time we even had a proper one? Barnes? Macca? lol

dARkDevX said...

I will openly say this: Carroll will be a flop at Anfield. For 20 years i have followed Liverpool and therefore do not make this statement lightly. His game style and our current formation are completely incompatible and the absurdity that he's worth 35m is astonishing-He's worth more than Sheva, David Villa and even Samuel Eto'o! The money could have been better spent on players like Sergio Canales, Bojan Krkic and Pedro Leon, LLorrente etc.

Building for the future means we just don't buy but purchase to fit an attacking policy-fast passing at a high tempo and a pressing game when not in possession. That's the reason for the aforementioned players. Below is a list of players we've lost in 18 months:

Arbeloa: @ Real Madrid
Xabi: @ Real Madrid
Mascherano: @ Barcelona
Aquilani: @ Juventus
Benayoun: @ Chelsea
Torres: @ Chelsea

These people controlled and contributed hugely to the outcome of a game. Some might argue against Benayoun's inclusion but he was a game changer for us when need albeit not an consistent basis. Not good for us? Well, Chelsea thought otherwise.

Such a loss of talent in a short period doesn't augur well...especially considering their caliber. We might think that Torres going is a huge blow. True, but Reina leaving will have seismic implications as there are few keepers of his quality. It might look like a remote possibility but so did Torres' departure last week.

Carroll: Liverpool's Number Nine. Stuff of nightmares! On this dark wintry Vermont day, my heart has truly been broken in a way i couldn't envisage.

Cant say more.......

Scott B said...

Today seemed like a whole lot of panic bidding on targets we rated highly. More of a throw bids around and see who bites approach than any real plan. We ended up with a very good player but one that's unproven and is a radical change from the type of striker our team is used to. It's a heck of a gamble at a ludacris price.

Big bets sometimes win though. I hope this won hits the jackpot.

drew said...

Lots of silliness abounding over Carroll. Yes, 35m is really high, but come on people, bear in mind at least these things:

1) Age. Yes, David Villa cost less. He's also 6 years older and thus at or just past the peak of his ability; Barca will see diminishing returns from him for the next few years. Carroll is 22 and has basically his entire career in front of him.

2) Inflation. If you're going to compare his value to Rooney, etc., as I've seen some elsewhere do, at least have the sense to use constant dollars.

3) Need. Liverpool needed a center forward and line leader at a time when none were being openly shopped. Worse, they needed one on the last day of the January transfer window. That means paying a hell of a premium, making an offer too big to be turned down.

4) Debt. Liverpool don't have much at all now. That means that all the money we just paid for Carroll was, under the previous regime, going to service 4 months of the club's debt. Isn't it great having a striker instead?

Clearly there are some major risks here. Carroll likes a night out--something that has derailed young players on Merseyside before; he's so far a half-season wonder; he needs good service from the wings.

But, in order: if Kenny and Carra between them can't keep him in line, no one can; as a "classic" center forward he's less of a risk than someone whose game is mostly reliant on technique (those types get sussed out quicker); and as Nate pointed out we do still have some good crossers of the ball. Kelly in particular has put in some very juicy crosses in his run of games, and Johnson is obviously capable as well. Suarez likewise can put in a cross from either side of the pitch. I'm absolutely thrilled to have an actual aerial threat again after so many years when defenders (Hyypia and the Greek) or little 'uns (Luis Garcia) were our best headers of the ball.

I really wish we could've gotten Adam, one of the best crossers and set-piece takers in the league, but he's not the type you build a team around. Now we have six months to scout and nab a world-class wing talent. And in the meantime we have these months to let Suarez and Carroll get comfortable with each other, and prepare for an assault on the league next term. Given the weaknesses of the other sides, I don't think we're actually that far off now. (Need one top center back or left back, and a world-class winger, plus a set-piece wizard).

Briefly, on the Torres front: there is a definite undercurrent on RAWK that Torres had some very serious (so far unspecified) stuff come up in his personal/family life that led to this change. Honestly that makes a lot more sense to me than anything else; he'd been nothing but media savvy up to this point and for him to throw that completely out the window indicates to me there's something going on behind the scenes.

Anyway, thanks for the memories Nando. If you score the goals that keeps United from winning number 19, petty or not, I'll still be singing your name.

vinnie said...

finally someone who talks some sense with those 4 points. and don't forget this will be the only chance to splurge before financial fair play kicks in.

last but not least, carroll is a typical strong and steady english CF; not one that relies on pace, he will be less injury prone and will improve with age

Earl said...

Personal/family issues? I can't think of anything that would excuse this, and I'll stop there before it gets ugly. First Masch and now this mother.... Let's face it, its all about the money. Thanks for the most exciting goals I've ever seen. Now go get your check. Absolutely cannot wait til Sunday.

Can't believe how much they paid, but I must admit that after losing the best striker in the world this is a decent consolation prize. Ridiculously expensive yes, but I don't see a flop unless its in the bars. These two guys look like the perfect match on paper.

Gaz Hunt said...

What really matters here is the goals these strikers are going to get for the club. Most agree that it was basically a straight swap of Torres and Babel for Suarez and Carroll.

Torres is a world-class striker but just wasn't interested in doing it for us anymore. Babel is... well... Babel. They managed 11 goals in the first half of the season.

So from Liverpool's perspective, Suarez and Carroll need to beat that to justify the transfer. Surely they will managed that easily.

Anonymous said...

For those who doubt Carroll think of the alternatives. Would you really play the rest of the season with N'gog, Kuyt and Suarez as main strikers? Also I don't watch the barcodes but if Carroll can contribute to DEFENSIVE set pieces then I'll be happier (Skrtel, Agger, Carra are not good in the air, the Greek is good in air but not mobile).

Yes we overpaid for Carroll, but can anyone honestly say the Chelski didn't overpay for Torres.

I agree with the comment that we have to do EVERYTHING to keep Reina, although he has shown passion and commitment it's interesting that the Spanish contingent are largely gone (Pachecho, Ayala, Maxi - Argentinian I think, Aurelio and Lucas are Brazilian).

Torres is and always will be a great player but the only way to make him happy was to play in the Champions League and the only way to do that is to get another CB, LW, RW which our "deliberate" (slow) owners weren't going to do quickly.

Make no mistake, our American owners knew Torres leaving was a real possibility.

Today I'm happy (new players), sad (a great one left) but also worried about Reina.


nate said...

There is still a decently-sized – for the Premier League at least – Spanish-speaking contingent.

Pacheco and Ayala (and Suso) are Spanish. Maxi is Argentinean (as is Insua, if he comes back). Suarez is Uruguayan. While Aurelio is Brazilian (as is Lucas, obviously), he played for Valencia for a few years, so speaks Spanish as well.

Also, really good point on Carroll improving Liverpool on defending set plays.


Saw the vague undercurrent you refer to, more on Twitter than RAWK, but still no concrete excuses. Just vague "personal life" references. I'm immensely curious as to what the excuses could be.

I am proper excited about Carroll. Suarez too, for sure, but really enjoy Carroll as a player. Has single-handedly gotten me to watch Newcastle matches this season. Never thought he'd be playing for Liverpool. He's young, British, and absolutely psychotic. I have a huge soft spot for irascible head cases. It's rare to see a player so aerially dominant at that age, and he's got even more tricks up his sleeve. There's no comparison to Crouch – facile solely based on height – this kid can crush headers from any angle. A large number of worries/fears, many described by Drew above, but I did not expect this. Can't wait until he's fit.

Pete said...

Let's not focus on Torres' mercenary exit. Let's instead focus on the mercenary entrances of Suarez and Carroll and everyone else on the team who we pay to play football.