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Liverpool could free up £85m for summer rebuild as FSG’s next moves telling

However the ownership status resolves itself, this summer is one of necessary spend for Liverpool in the transfer market.


Having missed the opportunity in at least a couple of transfer windows over the past three years, the Reds are in need of significant investment on the playing side in order to provide Jurgen Klopp with the foundations to push on to achieve the kind of success that has arrived at Anfield in recent years.


The need for spend comes at the same time when uncertainty over who will be the owners and custodians of the club for the longer term rumbles on, with Fenway Sports Group having engaged US investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to facilitate the search for investment while opening themselves up to expressions of interest over a full sale.


While plenty of parties been linked with a potential takeover, well-placed sources in the US with intimate knowledge of the situation have told the ECHO repeatedly that a minority partner would be the preference for FSG, who are keen to recapitalise the business at a time when they are likely to have their cash flow at Liverpool impinged by the need for a capital expenditure on players.

Names like Jude Bellingham have been linked for some time now, and to get a deal done for someone of the calibre of the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder would likely see the Reds have to break the British transfer record that Chelsea set last month with the £105m capture of Enzo Fernandez.


Liverpool will have considerable room to manoeuvre should they engage in such a rebuild. The club’s amortisation costs – the annual costs of transfer fees for accounting purposes, where fees are spread over the life of a player’s contract – stood at £107.8m for last set of financial accounts for the year ending May 2021. The club’s 2021/22 accounts are due in the coming weeks.


That amortisation figure is the lowest of the so-called ‘big six’. Chelsea (£162m) had the highest amortisation costs in the Premier League last season, ahead of Manchester City (£146m), Manchester United (£120m) and Arsenal (£117m), according to figures presented by football finance expert Swiss Ramble back in August. The Reds’ figures have been added to since with the arrival of the likes of Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, although both of those transfers won’t feature in the club accounts until the 2022/23 financials.


Balancing the books as best they can has always been high on the agenda for Liverpool under the ownership of FSG, and there are likely to be savings to be made when it comes to their amortisation figures.


Luis Diaz’s move from Porto for an initial £37m (amortisation figures account for guaranteed fees only and not add-ons) will be included in the 2021/22 accounts, a sum of £6.72m per year amortised over his five-and-a-half year deal. Ibrahima Konate’s £36m move from RB Leipzig (£7.2m amortised over five years) will also be included.


Looking at the amortisation figures set to disappear, Naby Keita is expected to depart this summer, his £52.75m transfer fee having been amortised at £10.55m per year in the club accounts. He could be joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who arrived from Arsenal in 2017 for £35m. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s contract initially ran for five years, amortised at £7m per year, but he signed a new deal in 2019 to take him through to 2023. That new deal, two years into his Reds career, when he had already had £14m amortised, made the remaining balance of his transfer £21m (£5.25m for each year of the four years he had left on his contract).


Add to that the departure of Takumi Minamino last summer for £15.4m, an £8.2m profit, then it is a further £1.45m shaved off the amortised costs for the club in the accounts. Any new deal for Roberto Firmino, signed in 2015 for £22m and who had a contract extension in 2018, would make any remaining amortised cost of his initial deal negligible.


Using the potential exits of Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as the departure of Minamino last summer, sees around £17.25m drop off the balance sheet for Liverpool across both the 2021/22 and 2022/23 accounting periods. That is the same as an £85m transfer fee amortised over five years.


Of course, Liverpool will need spend far more than that this summer if they are to truly address their issues, although the emergence of 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic likely removes the need for three central midfielders to two, while the options in the final third were aided in January with the addition of Gakpo. Defensive reinforcements are likely to be required, though.


Liverpool have been able to position themselves well enough in comparison to their rivals to absorb the amortised costs of adding to the squad, with the near £40m gap between themselves and Manchester City equating to some £200m in transfer spend amortised over a five-year period. The issue the Reds will have in that regard is the capital expenditure required to make those deals happen in the first place.


Chelsea’s spending in the summer and in January was done so by stretching contracts to seven and eight years, something that UEFA have since revisited and will enforce a maximum five-year limit from later this year. They also has a lot of capital committed and available given the fact the Stamford Bridge outfit had been recently taken over by Todd Boehly and private equity fund Clearlake Capital.


While transfer fees are amortised for accounting purposes, there is still the requirement to agree payment structures to the selling club, usually in two or three instalments. That means that there has to be capital available to make those payments, which impacts cashflow in the business. The attempts of FSG to recapitalise Liverpool individually instead of FSG as a whole, as they did with the sale of 11 per cent to RedBird Capital Partners for $750m in March 2021, likely has something to do with them wanting to create some liquidity to get deals done.


FSG have managed to avoid such heavy outlay since they have been owners given the fact they have been adept at player trading to offset the cost considerably, evidenced in the Philippe Coutinho deal allowing for two transformational deals in Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker. But with little in the way of saleable assets that they would be comfortable parting company with, what happens this summer will likely set the tone for how the rest of FSG’s tenure goes and give clues as to how long it may last, especially given their historic lack of desire to engage in the arms race that is the transfer market and pay inflated fees.



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