The summer 2023/24 transfer window has shut for Premier League clubs and (perhaps just as importantly for Liverpool) the window for the Saudi Pro League (SPL) has also shut. We say that because the Reds rejected a bid of around £150m for Mo Salah from Saudia outfit, Al-Ittihad, who reportedly were prepared to bid up to £200m for the Egyptian king!
Brilliant as Mo is, £200m is a huge amount of cash for any player, let alone a 31 year old. Some fans would have forgiven the club for cashing in at that price, even if Jürgen Klopp would have been unable to replace Salah with the English window having closed. But that is all in the past, Salah is staying put, for now at least, and so in some ways the biggest Liverpool transfer news of the summer was the non-transfer of the forward.
However, that is not to say that the club were not active and there has been a major overhaul of the midfield. Given that was so clearly a major issue last term, supporters must be delighted, even if many would have liked to have seen one or two more players coming to Anfield. Here we take a look at the complete ins and outs at Liverpool in the 2023/24 summer window, as well as taking a closer look at the key incomings.
Note that fees are estimated where undisclosed, with discrepancies due to the way add-ons and other fees are calculated by different sites.
|Dominik Szoboszlai||€70m||RB Leipzig||Midfield||22||Hungarian|
|Alexis Mac Allister||€42m||Brighton||Midfield||24||Argentine|
|Ryan Gravenberch||€40m||Bayern Munich||Midfield||21||Dutch|
When it comes to a radical change to the club’s midfield options it is safe to say that Klopp hasn’t done things by half. Szoboszlai looks an outstanding talent and is still very young, whilst the same can be said of both Mac Allister and Gravenberch. Each of the four midfielders offers something slightly different, with Szoboszlai the most attacking of the quartet and Endo, a bit of a curveball addition, the most defensively minded.
Liverpool Players That Left the Club
|Naby Keita||Free||Werder Bremen||Midfield||28||Guinea|
We have not included loan deals in either the incoming or outgoing players but the idea of a midfield revamp is further illustrated by looking at the players Liverpool have let go. The only non-midfielder is Firmino and even he is a deep-lying striker with plenty of crossover in playing terms with Szoboszlai.
The other obvious statement about Liverpool’s transfer business is the age profile. The average age of those signed by Klopp is just over 24, and that figure is skewed higher by Endo. In contrast, the youngest player to leave was 28 and the average was over 33, meaning that the squad has had a serious change in its demographic makeup.
Overall this was a costly overhaul, though the early signs are that the Reds obtained decent value despite the high cost of their purchases. The net spend for the summer 2023 window was around £100m, a considerable outlay. However, Szoboszlai has been quick to impress, whilst Mac Allister has to be seen as great value at around a third of the price of his former Brighton teammate Moises Caicedo, who the Reds had been linked with for a long time.
Liverpool’s Biggest Transfer Business
We’ll start with a sale, which has attracted a lot of attention, largely for negative reasons. The Reds sold three players to the Saudi Pro League (SPL) in three moves that made a lot of sense for the club. There is no doubt that Henderson, Fabinho and Firmino could have still offered Liverpool something but Klopp and those above him realised that for the money on offer and the wage-saving, all three deals made sense.
Clubs in the SPL are generally willing and able to pay above the market rate. That is true in terms of transfer fees but especially the case when it comes to player salaries. We are not here to discuss the rights and wrongs of players moving to the SPL but Henderson’s transfer in particular was controversial.
Liverpool’s former captain has done so many great things off the pitch and was central to co-ordinating the Premier League’s response to the pandemic. He has also been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and it is this stance as an ally of that community that some feel has made his move to Saudi problematic.
Saudi Arabia has a poor record, at least by western standards, in terms of human rights, in particular concerning the treatment of women, criminals, migrant workers and LGBTQ citizens. Rights for the latter are not recognised at all by the Saudi government and homosexuality remains illegal, punishable by prison, and both corporal and even capital means.
Given the way the SPL is essentially funded by the nation’s government, some argue that Henderson has been hypocritical in taking the money from such a regime. His new side is owned by the country’s Ministry of Sport so it is easy to see why many have an issue with the move.
Szoboszlai Looks the Real Deal
When it comes to the issues mentioned above it is all too easy to draw strong conclusions based on limited information and the situation may be more complex than appears to some. Therefore we will move to a transfer that is both far more positive and also far more directly related to football and Liverpool. From what we have seen so far in the early stages of the 2023/24 campaign, Szoboszlai looks like a baller!
The young Hungarian has been touted as the next Steven Gerrard in recent weeks (which makes him the 47th Liverpool player to have that tag by our count!), whilst one BBC pundit said he is a similar player to Jude Bellingham. We would prefer to say he is simply Szoboszlai, especially now we have learnt how to say his name!
He has a little bit of everything and can operate as a box-to-box player, or from the right, or as a number eight or even further forward as a number 10. He has a great engine, possesses brilliant technique, is mature and composed, and scores goals as well. He is a leader and captains his nation despite his tender years and fans have to be delighted with how quickly he has settled into the side, having already opened his goal account with the Reds.
Mac Allister a Real Bargain
Some questioned the high fee the club paid for Szoboszlai but on the contrary, it seems Liverpool managed to extract Mac Allister from Brighton for a great price. The fee was officially undisclosed but most reports suggest a sterling value of around £35m, with the potential for add-ons to take that closer to £55m.
Even if all those add-ons are hit, £55m doesn’t look bad in today’s market, where Arsenal have paid £105m for Declan Rice and Chelsea have splashed a massive £115m on Caicedo! But the £35m initial payment is certainly a steal for a man who played a key part in Argentina’s World Cup win. Moreover, none other than Lionel Messi is a huge fan of Mac Allister, trusting his ability on the ball.
Good Window for Reds
There will always be some fans who want more from a transfer window but on balance we have to give the Reds a solid 8/10 for their work in the summer 2023 window. Midfield was clearly a problem area last term and it now looks strong, with an excellent variety and blend to their options. In the attacking areas, the club have strong players and plenty of alternatives too, especially having kept Mo.
Losing so many strong squad members for nothing can be viewed as a mistake but that is not something that really happened this summer, but rather was allowed to occur over a longer period. In addition, some may feel that the club could have strengthened at the back. Last, whilst we think Endo is a decent player, he was the club’s third choice for the holding midfielder and is not one for the long term.