Liverpool’s net spend over last decade shows the battle Jurgen Klopp and FSG face
The 20 teams who currently compete in the Premier League signed an average of 6.7 players each in the latest transfer window, yet Liverpool were bottom of the pile.
Ibrahima Konate is the only new player who joined the club this summer, and thanks to selling Marko Grujic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Harry Wilson (among others), the Reds made a profit in the transfer market.
They weren’t alone in this regard, as five other clubs in the division made more from sales than they spent on new signings, but that’s little consolation to the many Kopites who were imploring the club to invest more funds in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
While it’s easy to look at a side’s net spend in a single window and despair – or crow if your team spent loads and you’re into that sort of thing – it’s far more instructive to look across a much wider time frame.
The net spend in a single transfer window takes no account of the existing squad and how many top players it already contained.
Arsenal had the highest transfer spending deficit this summer but that’s because Mikel Arteta’s squad requires so much improvement. Whether you think Liverpool should’ve spent more this summer or not (and you probably do), there’s no question they already possess a very talented group of players.
And they have accumulated those fine footballers by largely spending their money very well over the last six years. A new report from CIES Football Observatory shows that there aren’t too many clubs who have spent more money across the last decade than Liverpool too.
From the transfer window in January 2012 through to the present, the Reds have spent over a billion euros on signing new players – £1.07bn, to be exact. It is the ninth most of any club in that period, with the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea the only English sides above Liverpool in the standings.
It is perhaps telling though that the Reds are only placed 13th in the table of transfer spending in the last three windows, which accounts for the period since the initial global lockdown brought the 2019/20 season to a pause.
The losses generated by playing behind closed doors are likely to have played some part in the reduction in spending, even if the dip has been lower than you might think. Liverpool averaged a gross spend of 54.5m euros in the 17 transfer windows between 2012 and January 2020, according to the CIES figures, and 48m in the three since.
Other data in the report illustrates the extent to which the Premier League appears to have largely ignored the effects of the pandemic when it comes to transfer spending. Across the last three windows, the clubs of La Liga have made a combined 200m euros net profit, while the Bundesliga is a mere 8m in the red.
Ligue 1 has spent 127m more than it has brought in, while Serie A’s net spend stands at 298m for this period. Care to guess the net spend of the Premier League in the last 12 months?
1.942 billion euros. The difference with the other top leagues is very difficult to comprehend, but it has been much the same across the last decade. Where Serie A has had the second highest net spend, with 1.33bn euros, for the Premier League that figure reads 8.05bn.
Liverpool have played their part in this, with a net spend of 291m euros across the last 20 transfer windows. However, where they have been ninth in the big leagues for gross spend, here they rank 15th, with the likes of Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United ahead of them.
Have FSG invested enough for the Reds to compete on multiple fronts? Evidently so, at least based on the trophies won in 2019 and 2020, though concerns remain that they did not invest heavily enough this summer.
And while transfer fees are the shiniest, most headline grabbing display of a club’s wealth, there is so much else to account for. Liverpool have the fourth highest wage bill in the Premier League (per Spotrac), never mind the investment made in the infrastructure of the club with an expanded Anfield and a new training complex.
There’s one final nugget of data which really highlights the difference between Liverpool and certain other teams. Of the 20 highest net spenders over the last 10 years, the Reds are second for the proportion of their spending which comes from sales.
The 779m euros they have raised by moving players on represents 73% of the £1.07bn that has gone on bringing new signings to Anfield. Only Chelsea, on 74%, are above them in this respect.
Contrast that with Manchester United (31%), Paris Saint-Germain (35%) and Manchester City (39%) and you’ll see the Reds are playing a different game. Let’s hope their transfer model can continue to be as successful as it has been in the Klopp era.