splash the cash | 

John Aldridge: Liverpool need €300m investment to get back in the game

Reinvesting the cash generated by sales of top stars to sign new players is no longer sustainable

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp watches on as Liverpool are beaten 5-2 by Real Madrid. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

Liverpool players appear dejected during the Champions League round-of-16 match at Anfield against Real Madrid: Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah appears shows his frustration against Real Madrid. Photo:Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

Liverpool players appear dejected during the Champions League round of 16 match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Tuesday February 21, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.© PA

John AldridgeSunday World

LIVERPOOL’S owners have backtracked on their plans to sell the club and they need to make sure that what comes next does not get messy.

John W Henry and his Fenway Sports Group (FSG) get a lot of stick from Liverpool fans – and it is not always justified.

We know they don’t have the cash of the owners at Manchester City or Chelsea, but that is not a crime.

The way City and Chelsea have navigated football’s Financial Fair Play rules is very dubious – and I have never been a fan of the methods that has allowed them to buy themselves a seat at the game’s top table.

Yet when FSG signalled their intentions to sell the club a couple of months ago, I resigned myself to the prospect of a Sheikh or an American billionaire turning Liverpool into his new play thing.

Now, after Liverpool’s already stuttering season hit a new low – with the devastating 5-2 Champions League defeat against Real Madrid on Tuesday night – many fans will conclude that FSG’s model of keeping the club’s net transfer spend low is no longer functioning.

That’s why I am urging FSG to change their approach after they confirmed they are seeking fresh investment in the club rather than a full sale.

Big-money investors will not be interested in getting involved with Liverpool unless they have full control, which is why the warning signs are flashing for me.

The Real Madrid hammering confirmed that Jurgen Klopp’s side has run its course and is in need of a major reboot that will cost around £300 million.

In the past, FSG have financed big-money moves by selling star names such as Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho for mega money.

That meant they were basically reinvesting the cash generated by sales to sign new players – and it proved to be a highly successful policy as Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker were among the big success stories.

Yet every team has a natural cycle and after going so close to winning four trophies last season, Liverpool have lost their way in alarming fashion.

New owners could have been the solution if they had the kind of finances needed to compete in the modern game, but FSG will need to get involved in the madness if they are to protect their investment.

They bought this great club for £270 million in 2010 and they could probably sell it for £3 billion now.

Yet that value will plummet unless they ensure the team continues to be competitive in the game’s top competitions.

Let’s take the debate over Jurgen Klopp’s future as Liverpool manager out of this conversation for now, as there is an even bigger problem brewing here.

To be blunt, Liverpool people will never be taken for fools and if we get to next summer and this squad does not get the cash injection it needs, they could turn on the owners.

I’d hate to see that happen because FSG have put the club back on the map and given the supporters some fantastic memories in recent years.

Klopp and the club’s recruitment team have done a fantastic job of getting the very best out of a limited budget that has seen Liverpool spend less in net terms than Wolves, Aston Villa and West Ham over the last five years.

To have won the Champions League, the Premier League, the League Cup and the FA Cup, despite spending a lot less money than all of their major rivals, confirms that Klopp has over-achieved given the resources at his disposal.

Yet it seems like he has run out of magic tricks.

Liverpool may struggle to sign players of Jude Bellingham’s calibre this summer if they are not in the Champions League, but they have to do all they can to turn the tide before it might become terminal.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah appears shows his frustration against Real Madrid. Photo:Peter Byrne/PA Wire.© PA

Defensively, Liverpool have been all over the place this season and the midfield is in need of a pretty substantial rebuild.

Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Roberto Firmino may be among the players leaving this summer.

The trouble is, none of those players can be sold for huge money and it means they need to find a way to get that £300 million I mentioned into the transfer kitty to give the manager a chance to fight back.

If they don’t, we could find ourselves in a situation where all the goodwill towards the owners evaporates.

As we have seen at Manchester United in recent years, a fan base that has turned against the owners can create a toxic atmosphere on several levels and FSG have to avoid that at all costs.

We have been spoiled by the success Liverpool have enjoyed in recent years, but we are now heading into a challenging period.

FSG have a chance to make sure they halt the slide by investing some serious money in the squad – anything less simply won’t be acceptable at this stage.

Liverpool fans booed the Champions League anthem at Anfield on Tuesday night – and they had every right to do so.

The treatment Liverpool fans received at last season’s Champions League Final in Paris was a disgrace – and UEFA have to take a large share of the blame.

They put the final in a shockingly inadequate stadium in Paris, with the local police unable to protect the fans before and after the match.

Many Liverpool and Real Madrid fans were attacked by local thugs, and then the police tried to pin the blame for the mess on supporters

UEFA and the French police have now apologised for their scandalous accusations against innocent football fans.

Yet this scenario should never have been allowed to happen and it needed Liverpool fans to tell their stories and pour shame on those who ran that indefensible farce before they said sorry.

I’m sure UEFA chiefs will be delighted to see Liverpool dumped out by Real Madrid, but their reputation took a battering as their showpiece fixture so nearly turned into a disaster due to their own incompetence last May.

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