As I sit here to write this piece we are 23 days into the January transfer window and the rumour circus is in full flow. Liverpool Football club after a strong first half to this season which included being league leaders on Christmas day have as usual been linked to a wide range of players. From Juan Mata to Danny Ings there has been constant speculation about who will be joining Gerrard, Suarez and co in a second half of the season push which will hopefully end in a top four finish. Whilst understandably you can’t read much into the ever flowing flurry of rumours which makes this time of year so exciting to the average football supporter there has been one name linked with Liverpool since the summer.
Mohamed Salah. The exciting Egyptian winger currently playing his trade at Basel in Switzerland. And that brings me on nicely to the main body of this article. Chelsea have just had a £11M bid accepted by the Swiss side. It has been apparent from day one of this window that he was Liverpool’s main target yet after almost a month in which it seemed the Egyptian was destined to come to Anfield he has slipped through the clubs fingers. Not only that he is joining the side who are only six points ahead of Liverpool and most definitely a direct competitor to Liverpool. The reason I highlight this is that it isn’t the first time we have seen this happen. Barring the acquisitions of Sturridge and Couthnio last January transfer time has become one of frustration for most Liverpool fans.
Let’s go back to July. Liverpool’s top summer target was Henrikh Mkhitaryan the Armenian attacking midfielder who eventually joined Borussia Dortmund. We had weeks of reports telling us he was all but a reds player and only had a medical to complete. Then we were told there was a hitch. Not with Mkhitaryan not wanting to join the club but Shaktar Donetsk were playing hardball over the price. Now this is not uncommon during negotiations but surely this is the reason Ian Ayre is managing director at Liverpool. He would simply iron out the issues and we would come to a compromise. It did not happen and the club missed out. A few weeks later we were told Willian the Brazilian winger was now close to becoming a Liverpool player. The same problem occurred over the fee and via a Spurs medical he became a Chelsea player. Diego Costa is another player who a bid was submitted for but he ended up staying at Atletico Madrid. This is no coincidence and now it looks like Salah is set to be playing his football in West London it begs the question what is the point of Ian Ayre? His job is to smoothly deal with these transfers and help Brendan Rodgers to create a competitive squad. Quite frankly Rodgers must be tearing his hair out.
Some cynics would suggest that FSG are to blame they after all hired Ayre and are the ones refusing to stump up a few more million to secure Salah however I would point out two things to them. Firstly you can’t blame John W Henry and Tom Werner to have reservations about overpaying. They after all saw Kenny Dalglish and Damien Commoli effectively pour £100M down the drain with the respective purchases of Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. Also if reports are to be believed and Basel turned down a Liverpool bid of £8M because they value Salah more in the region of £11M then why has it taken this long. If we knew Basel had rejected the initial offer then surely and extra £3M wouldn’t hurt in the long run the money would be recouped from the revenue of sponsorship and hopefully Champions league football next season. Why in 24hours have Chelsea accepted a £37M bid from Manchester United from Juan Mata and agreed a fee for Salah when it has apparently taken three weeks for Liverpool to revise their offer? To me this all could have been avoided if Ian Ayre did his job properly. Without this article turning into a rant I would add that I don’t like seeing anyone lose their job but I do think Ayres role has to be reviewed and if not relieving him of his duties then bringing in someone to assist with these transfer dealings otherwise this kind of thing is going to happen window after window and that would not be fair to Brendan Rodgers who is trying to bring this club back to the top of English and European football.