Roy Hodgson spoke to the media this afternoon as part of a press conference at Anfield staged to unveil the three signings to arrive so far in what Tom Hicks promised would be a “big” summer. What Hicks didn’t specify was whether it was “big” for transfers in or transfers out, and that was the kind of question most fans wanted to hear answered, in particular relating to the futures of Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano.
The total outlay so far this “big” summer is £2m, the fee paid for young defender Danny Wilson (with more to pay should certain targets be met). The other two signings unveiled were Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovich, both signed on free transfers. One signing made just before the end of last season was Jonjo Shelvey, not part of today’s show, he cost £1.7m.
What’s far more worrying for Liverpool fans is where all the money from sales has gone to. Obviously there’s still some work to be done in the transfer market, because if the Emiliano Insua transfer to Fiorentina goes through there won’t be a recognised left-back at the club. Christian Purslow and Martin Broughton have both insisted that any proceeds from player sales can’t and won’t be used to “pay down debt”, but have yet to explain where all the money has gone.
The club’s current financial year ends next week, and in that 12-month period the club have spent far less than they have brought back in on transfer fees. Assuming Insua’s sale goes through at the reported £5m fee, Liverpool will have made a profit on transfer fees of £32.1m since August 1st.
Reports today from Spain suggest Maxi Rodriguez will be leaving just six months after he arrived (also on free) despite some good performances for the club and his ever-present status in the World Cup finals for Argentina. Maxi may well leave without a fee changing hands, but that won’t be the case should his international captain leave Anfield this summer.
Javier Mascherano wanted a move to Barcelona last summer but was refused the opportunity. He’s pushing for a move this summer, Inter Milan looking the most likely destination this time round. His reasons for leaving have nothing to do with the former manager or the state of the club’s finances, according to his own claims, instead it’s all to do with his wife’s unhappiness at life in England.
Hodgson was asked what the state of play was with Mascherano, and he confirmed that the player wanted out: “He wants to leave the club, he’s made that perfectly clear, I think he wanted to leave a year ago and he wants to leave now as well.”
It seems that so far this summer the new manager has had little input into decisions over who stays or goes, but he tried to assert some authority on proceedings by insisting Mascherano would only be sold if an appropriate offer came in: “He’s contracted to Liverpool Football Club so whether he leaves or not will be our decision. At the moment he’s a Liverpool player and I will treat him as a Liverpool player and expect him to be a Liverpool player until such a day arrives that he no longer is.
“The mere fact a player is a little bit unhappy with his situation and would prefer to leave doesn’t necessarily mean that he will leave. Mascherano is a Liverpool player, he’s got a two year contract, I expect him to honour that contract until the day comes that the club decides to accept an offer for his services.”
Only time will tell if Hodgson has any say in what is considered an acceptable offer, and how much of those proceeds will be spent on improving the squad.
Fernando Torres is worth far more to the club than Mascherano, not only in financial terms but also in terms of the clubs’ hopes of success, not to mention the morale of supporters and the rest of the squad.
But Torres is said by a number of sources to be extremely unhappy with broken promises from those running the club, promises relating to investment in the club that would in turn bring investment into the squad. Targets the club had lined up last summer were missed out on amidst claims the funding had been pulled at the last minute. Suggestions Torres was unhappy with the former manager were wide of the mark, and recent hints from Hodgson referred to the player being unhappy with the club’s hierarchy, not the former manager.
Speculation surfaced this week that Torres wanted to leave so could play Champions League football this season, speculation that was quite easy for Hodgson to refute: “I know nothing about that.”
Hodgson said last week that he’d only had a brief amount of time to speak to Torres so far and that he’d left Christian Purslow behind to continue talking to him, suggesting that Fernando’s problems didn’t relate to issues that Hodgson is responsible for. Whether he’s spoken to him since or is relying on Purslow’s word isn’t clear, but he said he believed Torres was looking forward to getting back to work: “As far as I know he’s looking forward to coming back here, he’s back on Monday.
“He’s enjoying a holiday which is a well-deserved break I think; I don’t think he’s had one for 3 years. He’s spending a lot of time with his family.”
Hodgson again used the term “as far as I know” as he explained his doubts as to the validity of those recent Torres Champions League stories: “As far as I know he’s keeping a very low profile, not really speaking to anyone, but he has told us that he’s looking forward to Monday, looking forward to getting back to work, looking forward to playing for Liverpool next season. That’s what I know so all other reports I would suggest are erroneous.”
What isn’t erroneous is that this club is making as much profit on transfer fees as some of those clubs it is competing with are spending. Spending money is of course no guarantee of success, but making a £30m profit on transfer fees in a year is hardly a sign of a club with ambition and determination to reach the top. And with that kind of approach from the club’s hierarchy, particularly in the last year, it’s little wonder that the likes of Torres and Gerrard are so reluctant to shout from the rooftops that they want to stay at the club.
This club needs new owners, new investment, and new people running it.