4 Jun 2016

Deal Close: 'World-class' superstar on the verge of sealing massive £200k-a-week transfer. Liverpool to suffer?

When Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford in 2013, Liverpool were presented with a golden opportunity to capitalise on United's inevitable slide into (comparative) mediocrity. To paraphrase Ferguson's most famous quote, it was finally time to 'knock United off their perch', but three years after Fergie's exit, the Reds have abjectly failed to overhaul the most pedestrian Man Utd team since the late 1980s.

The recruitment of Jose Mourinho struck a killer blow to Liverpool's chances of finishing in the top four next season, and new reports today all but confirm the Reds' window of opportunity (to overhaul United) is now closed. According to Sky Sports:

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to sign for Manchester United [on £200k-a-week]. The deal is close to completion and could be finalised before Euro 2016".

Ibrahimovic* at United? This is sickening news, and it reminds me of the sinking feeling I felt (and many others, I'm sure) when Fergie signed Robin Van Persie. That deal basically won United the title, and Ibrahimovic will almost certainly have a similar galvanising impact at Old Trafford.

Forget his age - Ibrahimovic remains a world-class attacking player, and his incredible stats are a testament to his consistent brilliance and prolificity. Fans can make all the excuses they like about Ligue One being 'weak', but the Swede has won 13 league titles in four different leagues (including 9 in a row from 2002-2011).

In my view, the presence of Mourinho and Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford means that Liverpool have next to no chance of finishing in the top four next season. History (i.e. the achievements of both club and manager) suggests that Man City (Guardiola), Man Utd (Mourinho) and Arsenal (qualified 17 years in a row now), will make it, with the Reds left to battle for fourth place with Spurs, Chelsea, West Ham, and Leicester (three of whom finished above Liverpool this season).

The Reds might've had a chance of crashing the party if the club had qualified for the Champions League (and were consequently able to sign better players) but Klopp (and the players) totally blew it, and now the Reds are at serious risk of struggling to maintain a top six position over the next 2-3 years.

Some will (predictably) call this negativity, but this site is about acknowledging and accepting the harsh realities, and for me, there's little value in living in a bubble of self-delusion. Obviously, I'd love to be proven wrong, but based on the last six years, it's hard to see any other eventuality in the league.

Some fans will cite the 2015-16 season as an example of how expectations can be subverted, but with all due respect, it's time to get real. Last season was a freak, and based on Premier League history, logic, and rational probability, there's very little chance of recent history repeating itself.

It all boils down to this: Since FSG arrived, Liverpool have spent close to £450m on transfers, and overall, the club has not progressed in the slightest. This is a fact, not an opinion:

* In 2010, Benitez left the club in 7th place on 63 points; six years later, the Reds are in 8th place on 60 points.

Ultimately, in the aftermath of Fergie's exit, overhauling Man Utd was an eminently achievable goal. The Mancs even gave Liverpool a helping hand by appointing Moyes and Van Gaal, who conspired to destroy United's attacking football philosophy, and presided over some of the most boring football the Premier League has ever seen.

Despite these gifts from the footballing Gods, Liverpool *still* failed to capitalise, and now the club will pay the price.


* 50 goals in 51 games for PSG this season


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