The Lure of Liverpool

Liverpool have become an exciting proppect for players to come and ply their trade, with a good summer transfer window showing this. The Anfield Talk’s Ronan (@ronan_orourke) discusses what makes Liverpool such an attractive proposition…

The times they are a changing. The landscape of football is shifting in a way many never thought was possible. Formerly super rich clubs like Chelsea appear to be now appear to be short of cash, while newly promoted sides like Fulham are making big money signings without even batting an eye lid. Perhaps though there is nowhere else in world football where the change has been as meteoric and most importantly sustainable as at Liverpool Football Club. Before the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, the club appeared to be fully entrenched in a state of despair and mediocrity.

The 2013-2014 season was indeed one to remember. However, it was inspired principally by the astonishingly devastating form of Luis Suarez. When Suarez left after that campaign, few expected the heights to be hit again. We tried to stay positive but it seemed incredibly unlikely even if Daniel Sturridge had managed to stay fit. The same could not be said of Liverpool in 2018. After a tremendous season in which the club reached the Champions League final for the first time in eleven years, and finished consecutively in the top four for the first time since Rafa Benitez left, the feeling was very different. This felt real.

Mo Salah was sensational last year but it was not his team alone. Suarez had an exciting supporting cast around him in 2014 but there was nobody where you could honestly admit that they helped the Uruguayan as much as he helped them. Despite Salah’s 44 goals, it was the efforts of the team that propelled Liverpool to these new dizzying heights. They helped each other all over the pitch.

It was only a few years ago that it appeared that Liverpool’s primary method of recruitment was to see if Steven Gerrard could use his reputation to lure top players to Anfield. Sometimes it worked as it did with Suarez, other times it didn’t as was the case with players like Alexis Sanchez and Willian. This approach was clearly not sustainable. Something had to change.

What is most pleasing about this newfound attraction of Liverpool is the collective strategy that is now evident. The plan is no longer reliant on just one individual to provide the ultimate attraction. Roberto Firmino lent a helping hand in convincing Alisson Becker and Fabinho to join the ranks while Sadio Mané unquestionably made coming to Anfield that much easier for Naby Keita. Salah is one of the form players in world football but he is only one of the many players with serious pull in this squad.

There can be no doubt though that the figurehead remains Jurgen Klopp. The players are admitting as much upon arrival. Players that used to be linked with Liverpool before going elsewhere are now choosing Anfield as their preferred destination when it comes time to make a decision. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly had several offers, some of which would have paid him a significantly higher wage but he chose Liverpool. The same certainly appeared to be true with regards to Virgil van Dijk in January as well. I am absolutely convinced that five or six years ago, Alisson would have chosen Chelsea while we would have ended up with Rob Green! How things have changed indeed.

Credit as well of course has to go to Sporting Director Michael Edwards who seems to be running the show behind the scenes in all these transfer dealings. No longer does the club appear to be treading water with signings. Instead, there is an efficiency evident that we are simply not used to. There are fewer leaks to the media which indicates that there is a trusted core group within the club making sure everything is going according to plan. It is all well and good having great recruiters within the squad but if the necessary requirements aren’t met between negotiating clubs, then agreements will go pear shaped in a hurry.

The players aren’t simply attracted to Liverpool simply due to our recent progress either. Instead, they see a team that plays as a unit and has personalities that are fun to be around throughout the squad. There is a very nice mixture of homegrown talent combined with gems from all over the world. There really are genuine friendships building throughout the squad. Some of which you would never see coming but still make complete sense (Dejan Lovren and Mo Salah), and you can also see why Alberto Moreno is kept around with the positive impact he seems to have on his teammates off the pitch.

The English leadership group of Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Adam Lallana are all incredibly well liked as well and most importantly are great models to young players. All three have been questioned at some point over the years but their attitude has never been less than perfect. Even a player who in his younger days had a less than favourable reputation like Danny Sturridge is proving he has the right mindset to make the comeback of all comebacks this year. Few things would make me happier than a fit and fighting Sturridge back being a menace to opposing defences once again.Following his brief and unhappy spell at West Brom, Studge seems to be more determined than ever to stay with this incredible group. It really makes you wonder why on earth any player would want to go anywhere else?

The club seems destined to again take another step forward this season. This improvement hasn’t been an overnight sensation but instead has been slowly developing since Klopp arrived two and a half years ago. He repeatedly stated that he had a long term plan, and many didn’t believe him. Well I think there are now finally many more believers than doubters and I am loving every minute of it!

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Ronan O'Rourke

Irish/Belgian. Lifelong Liverpool fan and eternal optimist. Always been a firm believer in the Kloppolution.

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