This summer has seen the return of some big-spending moves from some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, with three clubs in particular leading the way.
However, the third of the big spenders have seen eyebrows raised with their purchases. In 2011, Liverpool have spent over £100 million on five players alone, with a signing policy seemingly on investing in potential as well as those proven.
In January, Andy Carroll joined for a record fee for a British player, with £35 million spent on the 21 year-old Newcastle forward. Luis Suarez also joined in a £22 million deal from Ajax.
Since the end of the season, manager Kenny Dalglish has got the chequebook of new owner John Henry (pictured above) out for three more arrivals; Sunerland midfielder Jordan Henderson for £20 million, Blackpool playmaker Charlie Adam for £7.5 million and Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing, also for £20 million.
Much has been made of the amount of money spent on these players, in particular on Carroll and Henderson who, despite having a lot of potential, are largely unproven.
It should be made clear at this point that this policy may be down to a belief carried not only by Henry but also their new Sporting Director Damien Comolli – the philosophy of ‘Moneyball.’
Comolli implemented a policy of buying young players with real potential whilst in a similar position at Tottenham, while Henry has used this ideology during his time as owner of Major League Baseball side Boston Red Sox – and he has been rewarded with two World Series so far.
But what is Moneyball? Well it’s effectively where investment in players is based on statistics and potential instead of those proven here and now.
While Carroll and Henderson’s price tags may seem overtly excessive, they have been bought for what they can develop into in the next few years, with the duo just 21 and 20 years old respectively.
In regards to the signings of Adam and Downing, they have been brought into the squad based on what they can add to the team based on their statistics.
So the Liverpool management will have looked at stats such as Opta in areas such as set piece deliveries, goals from set pieces, assists, etc. and will have identified the both of them as ideal investments in bringing something to the squad where it was lacking before.
The Moneyball philosophy has led to differing opinions ranging from those who believe the Reds will launch a title challenge, to those who feel that Dalglish & Comolli have spent too much considering what they are getting for their money.
However, the only way we can make a fair observation is in a few years time, when we can analyse how much potential the likes of Carroll and Henderson have unearthed, and seen if the statistics of Suarez, Adam and Downing backs up their investment.
Then we can say whether the likes of Henry and Comolli were pioneers instead of foolhardy.
So what do you think? Is it too early to make a judgement on the arrivals at Anfield this year? Or has too much money been spent on players that will never reach the potential that their valuation states? Let us know your thoughts.