With England’s two best teams having simultaneously decided to finally bring in out-and-out No 9s, it was perhaps inevitable that direct comparisons would be drawn between the deals.
Liverpool and Manchester City have broken with tradition by signing Darwin Nunez and Erling Haaland to lead the line after building their recent successes on strikerless systems.
And it has not gone unnoticed that the two clubs are both likely to end up shelling out between £ 85-100 million for their new center-forwards once add-ons and agent fees are factored in.
In truth, though, any similarity between the transfers ends there, with Haaland’s reported wage packet of £ 375,000 a week inflating City’s overall outlay in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, the fact that Liverpool have secured Nunez on a contract understood to be worth £ 140,000 a week serves as a particularly handy encapsulation of the club’s current transfer strategy.
Liverpool’s preference for striking high-fee, relatively low-wage deals was evident in the recent signings of Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz, both of whom played a key role in last season’s quadruple near-miss.
It would also have underpinned one of the biggest deals of last summer had the Reds won their last battle with Manchester United for the signature of a coveted forward.
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Jadon Sancho had two major admirers at Anfield in manager Jurgen Klopp and his assistant Pep Lijnders, while Fenway Sports Group owners were more than happy to meet Borussia Dortmund £ 73m price tag to secure his signature.
Unfortunately, any potential move was scuppered when the Englishman’s wage expectations became clear, paving the way for him to sign a £ 270,000-per-week deal at Old Trafford.
Had the 22-year-old been willing to accept half that, then he would have become a Liverpool player; instead the Reds went on to land Diaz and then Nunez, the latter having turned down improved terms at United in order to play Champions League football.
Similar restraint was also shown during this summer’s brief pursuit of a midfielder, which began with the news that long-term target Aurelien Tchouameni would be made available by Monaco.
Plans to bolster central midfield would have been brought forward a year to land the Frenchman, but it quickly became apparent that he would be able to secure £ 300,000 a week from Real Madrid as they flexed their financial might after failing to land Kylian Mbappe.
That resulted in Liverpool’s early withdrawal from the race, and a reversion to their plan to sign a midfielder next summer, when that position will be sporting director Julian Ward’s first priority.
As was the case with Nunez, the aim then will be to target a player around their early 20s with an impressive athletic profile and, while a big fee would not be an obstacle, excessive wages would.
The latter could well be a sticking point when it comes to the much-admired Jude Bellingham, given the wider interest in his signature, which is why there is some pessimism at Liverpool over their chances of landing him, and why others are being watched closely .
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The Merseyside club are determined to ensure that, unless they arrive as one of the best in the world in their position, new signings should not start out at the higher end of the wage bill.
And it is for this reason that, among the club’s top earners, only Thiago Alcantara is in the midst of his first contract at Anfield.
There will be no stopgaps brought in if these game-changing signings can not be secured, either, which is why Liverpool are willing to pass on deals for the likes of Youri Tielemans, Kalvin Phillips and Yves Bissouma this summer, all of which they considered relatively easy to complete.
This insistence that the biggest contracts are only to be handed out to those who have already achieved success at Anfield does at least offer hope to fans keen to see Mohamed Salah extend his stay.
While it is understood that negotiations over the Egyptian’s deal are now likely to bleed into the start of next season, there is no cap created by Virgil van Dijk’s current status as the club’s top-earner and hope of a compromise persists.
But, no matter what the outcome of those talks are, Liverpool are unlikely to veer from the disciplined approach to wages that has brought so much rewards in recent years.
Updated: June 21, 2022, 8:25 AM