Liverpool’s last two signings have arrived for a total of little over £20 million.
In Kostas Tsimikas, the new recruit from Olympiacos, and before him Takumi Minamino from Red Bull Salzburg, the Reds looked outside of the box to bring in what they hope will prove to be a bargain duo.
While the two Manchester giants, plus Chelsea and plenty of others, are spending lavishly on more well-known names, Liverpool are doing things differently.
Something else, too, though, is different about the pair being brought to the club compared with previous signings. The likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were unfancied by most other clubs and arrived relatively cheaply considering what they have achieved since.
But Tsimikas and Minamino signal the beginning of a new phase in Liverpool’s long-term recruitment strategy, and they also offer a hint as to what might be coming next.
Liverpool now have their first-choice XI, and they no longer need to recruit players who will move straight into the team, transforming the area of the field that they occupy like Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk or Andy Robertson.
Instead, they are looking to the future. Much has been made of the ages of Liverpool’s front line, with all three of the duo 28 years old.
None are showing signs of decline – far from it – but they will have to be replaced at some point. So too players in other positions, while at the same time, with more matches taking place next season, more rotation will be needed in the more immediate future too.
By signing Tsimikas, Liverpool have a player who can naturally slot into the position that Robertson has made his own when the Scot needs a break.
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Meanwhile, long-term, there is a strong belief that Minamino can perform the role that Roberto Firmino specialises in. Indeed, there may not be a closer player to Firmino’s style out there, such is the specific skillset required to deputies for the Brazilian without Jurgen Klopp having to drastically adjust the attacking unit’s style.
On the Analysing Anfield podcast, David Hughes said: “It’s the ideal way to prepare for and execute a transition phase that might come in over the next couple of seasons.
“You have got these players who can come in and play at a similar level to the regulars who we are of a similar mould.
“I’m not anticipating that this will happen, but if someone was sold, then you haven’t suddenly got to panic and get someone in. That will really aid the upcoming transition phase over the next year or two.”
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And Josh Williams said: “It feels like Liverpool are starting to have a shadow squad for the first XI – Minamino in the Firmino mould, Tsimikas in the Robertson mould and Neco Williams in the Trent mould.
“You can play any of the midfielders and you get a decent level of output. But the main issue is an alternative to Salah because that is really tricky – especially one who is left-footed – and a better alternative to Mane than Divock Origi.”
Liverpool are acknowledging that there will be transitional phase over the next couple of seasons as they start to freshen up the squad, and signing players in a similar mould to what they already have will help that.
That is why links to Ismaila Sarr make so much sense, though his price-tag could prove prohibitive in this window and the club may have to look elsewhere.
There might not be hundreds of millions to splash this summer on expensive stars, but in Minamino last January and now Tsimikas for what could be a bargain £12 million, Liverpool’s long-term transfer planning is already well underway.
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