There was a time when Liverpool losing a prolific striker to another club led to agonising over the club’s declining status and lack of power in the transfer market.
No longer. The departure to Bayern Munich of Sadio Mane, who scored 120 goals in six seasons for the Anfield club, prompted none of the anguish that accompanied the exits of Luis Suarez or Fernando Torres.
The calm with which the sale was received was not due to a lack of awareness of Mane’s importance to the success of Juergen Klopp’s team but reflected the way in which the club, unlike in the past, had a replacement lined up. The signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica, for an initial fee of 75 million euros, was a statement from Liverpool that they are no longer in the business purely of unearthing gems such as Mane but are at the very top of the power rankings in the transfer market.
The 23-year-old Uruguayan netted 34 goals in 41 games for Benfica last season and his performances in the Champions League, where he scored six goals in 10 appearances, including in both legs of their quarter-final defeat by Liverpool, caught they eye of all Europe’s top clubs. In the past, Nunez would have been the kind of player snapped up by Barcelona or Real Madrid or perhaps Manchester United, who did attempt to acquire his signature.
Liverpool not only now have the financial means to compete with such clubs for top talent but as regulars in the latter stages of Europe’s top competition and the only team to have beaten Manchester City to a Premier League title in the past five seasons, they have the prestige and consistency of excellence to attract the very best. INTERNAL SYSTEM
They also have an internal system which meant Mane’s decision to leave a year before the end of his contract was something they could plan for with calmness. “We cannot only try to stick together forever, we have to make changes,” said Klopp.
“When Sadio came and told us he wants to face a new challenge, because it was early enough, we accepted that and said yeah, when a club is coming and everything goes well then we can do that. We had time to prepare that situation because he came early and that’s what we did,” added the German. Nunez will take his place in an attack which already has Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Dias as Klopp’s forward options.
With Thiago Alcantara having established himself in the centre of midfield and Virgil van Dijk dominant in defence, the spine of the Liverpool team is world class. The style of play is likely to be unchanged, however, with marauding wing-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson constantly topping the assist charts for wide players.
The Klopp era, for all the quality and excitement, has brought just one Premier League title along with a Champions League triumph. Runners-up in both competitions last season, Liverpool had to settle for FA Cup and League Cup trophies but this year they believe they can repeat their 2020 triumph and end Manchester City’s dominance.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)