Daniel Levy should have felt the robbery in the distance; the result of base ingredients infused for over a decade. The Tottenham chairman, ‘stolen’ by Liverpool’s late surgical seizure of Luis Diaz, should not have needed a warning from Porto as the Merseysiders were mustering.
From the time Fenway Sports Group, famed for its smart data-driven approach, took ownership of the Anfield squad, Spurs suffered major recruitment defeats to their peers, the only real exception. being Dele Alli.
The story doesn’t focus so much on the surrender of prime targets as it does on the loss of key strategic minds. In November 2010, Damien Comolli became Liverpool’s director of football and, although his tenure was short-lived, he made one of the most important hires in the club’s modern history: headhunter Michael Tottenham Edwards.
Chosen to lead football interpretation and video analysis, he was also tasked with putting Liverpool at the forefront of analysis. FSG had tried unsuccessfully to lure the services of Decision Technology from Spurs since 2010 to expedite this process, but Edwards concocted a neater outcome.
In March 2012, at the lakeside Boca Raton estate of principal owner John Henry, he met Mike Gordon, who had officially taken over the day-to-day operations of Liverpool, and suggested that they simply extract the main brains of the statistics company instead.
A month later, Dr Ian Graham became the club’s director of research and has since assembled a team considered to be the ‘market leaders in using data to inform transfers’.
This kind of stealth has become synonymous with Liverpool and is obviously set to continue under Julian Ward’s sporting stewardship when Edwards exits.
Diaz’s deal, along with Diogo Jota’s, were his brush strokes. Fluent in Portuguese, Ward previously lived in Lisbon where he ran technical analysis and scouting for the Portuguese Football Federation.
He also spent three years canvassing the region for Liverpool, building up an enviable list of contacts. Ward’s strong relationship with GestiFute helped Jota’s transfer move smoothly and his intimate knowledge of Porto – their power brokers, financial situation, scouts, sales policy, meant Jurgen Klopp and co were kept up to date Tottenham developments with Diaz and could usurp them.
Cleverly helping the Portuguese side, an esteemed talent development hub, avoid UEFA debt sanctions with a £6.7million advance payment for the Colombian should pay off in the long run.
Diaz provides a neat overview of Liverpool’s transfer plan – world-class Thiago is the only purchase under Klopp that didn’t quite fit the mold – as well as their ‘silent rebuilding’.
He arrives with his exit similar to that of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Jota in their two seasons before being signed by the club. As with this trio, there’s the belief that his numbers are scalable, he’s far from his ceiling, he’s at the perfect age to grow further, and his cost represents incredible value.
The initial fee of £37.5m is being paid in the region for the other top-tier strikers (Salah £36.9m, Mane £30m, Jota £41m) as well as the defender Ibrahima Konate (£36m). Starting salaries line up around £90,000 a week.
The speed of the Diaz deal, underpinned by lengthy preparatory work and the building of a strong relationship with the player’s side, has become standard.
Prolonged and very public movements in the market are actively avoided. Some have attributed this position to the tap saga involving Virgil van Dijk, but that is wrong: Southampton had a frayed relationship with Liverpool given the extent of their talent drain and acted accordingly rather than news reports reporting that a transfer was Close.
A revisit of this period will show similar media coverage of Manchester City and Chelsea confident of securing the centre-back and there isn’t a club in elite football that doesn’t engage with a target before their employers.
Liverpool preferably work discreetly and in line with the nature of their recruiting staff. Edwards leaves without ever giving a taped interview and has spent much of his career going unnoticed in hotel lobbies, outside training grounds and in restaurants as he does his due diligence. reasonable.
Klopp has previously said Gordon is Liverpool’s most important man, but the unassuming FSG chairman can maneuver in the United States and Merseyside unseen.
The recruiting and research teams prefer to let their “evidence” – the profiling, the difficult yards in building relationships and negotiating – do the talking rather than stoking endless transfer speculation.
The quiet approach also protects against other clubs trying to take advantage of club duties and force themselves on a transfer, a consequence the analyst community has pointed to as a by-product of their excellence.
It is largely the selling club and a player’s camp who reactivate the details of an imminent transfer to Liverpool, as it is in their interests to do so.
The hushed nature of their methodology can mean that problems are sometimes pushed ahead of the solutions they’ve come up with. The question of a rebuild is front and center here, with the ages and contract situations of the front three thrown into the spotlight on the refresh of the attack and the team in general.
Getting Salah’s contract extension down the line remains paramount and Liverpool would be horribly foolish to see the current best player in the world walk away, but with this issue bubbling to the fore much has been done to improve the long-term context of the club.
Jota and Diaz bolster the attacking plan completed by the exciting Kaide Gordon, and a pre-agreement for Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho to join in the summer is expected.
The promise offered by Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones is undeniable, while Kostas Tsimikas and Ibrahima Konate have solidified the defensive options.
The next phase is to significantly strengthen the midfield, which will be the main focus this summer. As has become customary with Liverpool, expect little noise and maximum impact.