FSG have found dream £ 27million transfer deal to Liverpool, but there is a major problem


Under the auspices of Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have continued to be successful in the recruitment policy and the transfer market. Solid feasibility studies, a sophisticated data-driven approach and brilliant behind-the-scenes operations have resulted in a sparkling series of astute acquisitions led by Reds sporting director Michael Edwards.

From Andy Robertson to Mohamed Salah, the FSG has long aligned itself with a so-called “Moneyball” recruiting approach (after the eponymous term coined by Michael Lewis in his 2003 book on the Oakland Baseball Team. Athletics and its general manager Billy Beane).

There, the focus is on the team’s innovative use of data science and evidence-based metrics, namely “sabermetry” – the empirical analysis of baseball and the statistics that measure activity. in the game – in order to make recruiting decisions. Despite Oakland’s limited budget, their use of the sabermetric approach allowed them to build an extremely competitive team that achieved unprecedented success and made their rough diamonds into stars.

Indeed, at one point in 2002, John W Henry tried unsuccessfully to persuade Beane to become general manager of the Boston Red Sox, such was the value and esteem of the Liverpool owner.

While economics is certainly part of Moneyball’s philosophy, the emphasis is not so much on saving money as it is on finding undervalued assets and speculating on the value of ever-increasing players. . In that sense, the signing of a player like Sadio Mané for £ 34million in 2016 represents a large-scale example.

When the 24-year-old put the pen to paper, cynical eyebrows rose. Some may have thought that Liverpool paid too much for the former Southampton striker, or that the signing was not ambitious enough. These mistaken doubts were very quickly dispelled and, of course, the rest is history.

But, especially in terms of the Moneyball approach, according to Transfermarkt, the 29-year-old is now worth £ 76.5million (up from his highest value of £ 135million in December 2019). ). While the market has also fluctuated wildly over the past five years, and recently complicated by Covid-19, the fact that its value has more than doubled attests to the effectiveness of the policy and the financial benefits that can be derived from it. ” use of available data sets.

Without a doubt, there are other opportunities to be seized in the market. Players who peaked but now appear to be languishing in the hunt for the old form, screaming for the chance to revamp in a new environment. Purely hypothetically, Dele Alli, for example, is the kind of player in the mold of the FSG Moneyball model.

At 25, Alli is in the age group best suited to be capitalized. As of May 2018, its value according to Transfermarkt was £ 90million: it is currently £ 27million. This fact alone suggests that someone in her profile is ripe for repackaging. Not necessarily by Liverpool, but a profitable deal could be struck if Spurs wanted to sell.

After scoring ten goals and assisting nine in his debut league season at Tottenham, Alli found a way to dramatically improve on an already impressive breakthrough in the following quarter. In a spectacular 2016/17 campaign, he scored 22 goals and recorded 13 assists as Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs finished second in the Premier League.

However, in the seasons that followed, he never quite managed to regain that unplayable shine: the substantial drop in his goal contributions is testament to that. Although he helped Tottenham to the Champions League final won by Liverpool in 2018/19, Alli’s importance to his team became much less pronounced the following season. Although he seemed to rediscover himself once José Mourinho took over at Tottenham in November 2019 – with four goals and three assists in seven games – the Alli star has declined again.

Its stock may never have been lower than it is now. Despite the injuries, just one assist in a total of 15 league appearances tells the story of a difficult season for Alli. Maybe under a new manager and a new style of football, the kind of determined glow he once showed can be cajoled again. Either in Tottenham or elsewhere.

Even his initial arrival at Spurs was something of a Moneyball signing, which Liverpool would have been proud of. When his announcement was made, Alli had already scored 12 goals in 25 league games that season for MK Dons.

In February 2015, Tottenham received worldwide praise for securing the services of the 18-year-old for an economic fee of £ 5million. Clubs across Europe were vying for his signing, Liverpool too had desperately tried to get him out of League One.

While critics may have privately felt the fee was an uncertain bet for a lower league youngster, Moneyball’s eyes would have widened knowing Daniel Levy had pulled off a coup.

While one can imagine that Liverpool will not seek to secure a deal to sign Dele Alli this summer, his situation will reflect the context of many others like him. A former maverick talent, looking for the lost class, with time on his side, and a competitive price to be had.

Alli’s example is simply indicative of a policy that identifies undervalued talent; not just by choosing low-priced players for fun, but by employing an intelligent method of selecting prospects based on the underlying data and the state of the market.

As with most Moneyball-type transfer decisions, by extrapolating the data and knowledge available, it becomes easier to identify a single person or a shortlist of candidates, including abilities, underlying numbers and background. value correlate with the processes that the manager and staff need. to put in place.

A data-driven methodology that creates value, exploits market inefficiencies and, most importantly, unearths top talent has made Liverpool’s recruiting strategy the envy of the football world.

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