Sigurdsson’s failed capture reveals harsh reality for Liverpool

By Christopher Boulay

Liverpool’s pursuit of Gylfi Sigurdsson has ended unsuccessfully, as the 22-year-old Icelandic international has completed his move from Hoffenheim to Tottenham for a rumored £8 million.

The midfielder seemed a sure signing when Brendan Rodgers was appointed the new boss at Anfield on June 1. Only days after the hire, Sigurdsson turned down the Swansea move, as he had only agreed to terms for the deal, which was for approximately £6.8 million.

“I expect not to stay at Swansea due to the uncertainty going on there and it is not clear who is the boss,” Sigurdsson said, according to the Liverpool Echo.

This allowed Liverpool to pounce. Rodgers had a good relationship with the player at Swansea, and it was obvious that Sigurdsson has talent (He scored seven goals in 18 appearances in the Premier League, with braces against Fulham and Wigan, two clubs that Liverpool should beat, yet regularly struggles against). A transfer to Anfield was imminent, it seemed. Nothing could take him from the club.

Then, out of nowhere, Tottenham showed up sans manager, promised him the world, and now Sigurdsson will be at White Hart Lane to start the season, as well as on the other side of the pitch on July 28 in Baltimore. The likely culprit that prevented Liverpool from getting its man?

Wages.

Spurs allegedly accepted Sigurdsson’s wage demands, which were as much as 50 percent more than Liverpool was willing to offer. The North London club, which is essentially in the same position as Liverpool at this moment, as well as one of the Reds’ most significant rivals to achieving higher European qualification, beat Liverpool out by spending more money to add another body in the midfield – an area that is in desperate need of improvement at Anfield.

Rodgers recently spoke to TalkSPORT about the need for new blood.

“I’m looking forward to bringing in three or four players that can really affect the group,” Rodgers said.

The manager wants to bring in new footballers, yet the club looks as if it is unable to attract top talent with its current wage structure combined with its current place in the league.

This is not a cry of frustration. It is a statement that is realistic about where the club stands at this current moment.

Liverpool has not been in Champions League since the 2009-10 season. It recently won the Carling Cup, but that was the only piece of silverware since 2006. The club finished four points below Everton last season, and it was the worst finish since 1994. In that season, the club had its worst run of matches in nearly 60 years. The longer Liverpool is not in Champions League, the less chance it will have to get back there. Not to mention how important it is for the club to get to the tournament in order to battle for the title again. The league is improving markedly. The club cannot be left in the dust.

Sigurdsson is a classic example where Liverpool has to pay more because it is Liverpool, the North West giant. Want another example where this occurred?

Andy Carroll.

Initially, the club had its £25 million bid rejected by Newcastle, but in the last moments of the transfer window, the club upped the bid by £10 million, getting the now-staple in the club’s attack.

While it is true that one is a wage issue and one is a transfer issue, it is important to keep in mind that players know just as well what kind of club Liverpool is and the history it touts. The club needs to make sure that it does what it can to not lose transfers such as these, as with all of the pieces in place, this looks like a bad gaffe to start off Rodgers’ managerial career.

Maybe Sigurdsson wasn’t rated as highly as many thought by Rodgers. In that case, it is all for naught, but only if he can get in a superior talent to fill that dynamic role in the midfield. However, maybe he was rated highly, and losing him will prove as a motivator for the rest of the transfer window to get those three or four new, top players into the fold. This doesn’t have to be a loss in the long-run, as long as they make smart decisions over the next seven weeks. In addition, it may spark a bit of a managerial rivalry between Rodgers and recently appointed Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas.

I spoke with my friend – a massive Tottenham supporter – who was quite satisfied with the Lilywhite’s little coup.

“Maybe this is the wake-up call we need,” I said.

“Liverpool has had wake-up calls for years,” he replied. “They just keep hitting the snooze button.”

Sadly, he may be right.

Follow Chris Boulay on Twitter @chrismboulay

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13 thoughts on “Sigurdsson’s failed capture reveals harsh reality for Liverpool

  1. I think the likes of Torres and Meireles show how a player can go from being well worth the money to a dubious outlay. 6 months is not enough time to prove that a player is worth £70k/week, that is frankly laughable.

    I’m very pleased we didn’t role over yet again on a players wage demands, Cole, Jovanovic being prime examples. You need your arse felt if you think it’s a good idea to CONTRACT a player to £70k/week on the basis of one half of a season, there’s no way out of that once all parties are signed up.

    Sigurdsson would’ve made a good addition to the squad, but only at the right price and the right wage. He’s ‘probably’ got the talent to add to most squads, but never at £70k/week. The idea he can replace Modric or Van der Vaart is far of the mark too. He’s a good signing as a talent but not on the wages he’s managed to hoodwink.

    When a player roles up to negotiations demanding to be on par with the likes of Suarez you have to ask yourself what his career motivations are, payday or success. You also have to ask yourself how the likes of Suarez are going to feel about Mr 6 Months getting a wage you have, not happy would be my guess.

    No, I think the club and Rodgers have performed sensibly and admirably during the Sigurdsson negotiations, realising the breadth of options available and resisting the temptation to offer to equal Spurs wages. Surely a player has to go out there and prove they’re worth what they ask for, not the Club takes a punt on the player and offers what they ask for, that’s the kind of Purslow etc madness that has had us lumbered with highly paid failures over and over again.

    Sigurdsson was probably targeted because of Rodgers having worked with him ie knowledge, and the players price. There are a litany of options out there, just maybe at a higher price, these aren’t 2nd best or Plan B, they’re alternative options of a different cost. We went all out for Joe Cole on a free, threw money at him for his wages and signing on fee, arguing that because there was no signing on fee it was a logical and sound investment, look where that has got us.

    Personally I’d be more worried if we’d equalled the £70k/week and he’d signed for us, that would represent a lack of change from the old regime/owners. This isn’t Messi, or Xavi, it’s Sigurdsson.

    We didn’t sign him, who cares, there are many other great players who’d jump at the chance to come to Anfield and play with the likes of Gerrard and Suarez etc, I’d rather they join than someone looking for a payday.

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    • Certainly Sigurdsson is not going to replace Modric. But he will bring something to the Spurs midfield in the final third. I think we will have wait until the new season kicks to be really sure if this is as significant as some are suggesting.

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      • I’d add that Sigurdsson is hardly a marquee signing, he can add to a squad but that is nothing to be concerned about, there are plenty of players than can add to a squad.

        Strikes me we’re now looking for some serious targets, Sigurdsson could’ve saved some money on transfer fees but isn’t the right value at the wages he wants so no big loss in my eyes.

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  2. LFC’s 2012 final league standing was as bad as 1994, but its record was worse–fewer points, fewer wins-and the second half of the season–except for the Cup–was arguably the club’s worst since WWII. FSG has learned from its Red Sox fiascos that throwing money at a dream doesn’t always work.

    For all the blather about Moneyball, FSG has not always been prudent in its expenditures with the Red Sox and I suspect John Henry has come to realize the merits of monetary discipline. Let’s see what BR can do within a reasonable budget.

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  3. I think to some extent this transfer was one that a number of clubs, agents and players were looking at with interest. If we had come out and gotten him, by paying him ridiculous wages; or if we had paid over the odds for him, then everybody would have thought “right here we go, the owners are going to back their manager, let’s up the price.”

    I have no idea how Sigurdsson will turn out in the long run, there have been plenty of players that have had great half seasons and then not done as well subsequent season; and plenty that have performed well where they’re the main man then moved to a bigger team and failed. I’m also not sure that we needed another central midfielder, with attacking potential, especially with the potential returns of Joe Cole and Aquilani.

    In my opinion, the problem we had last season was the owners wanting to show the fans they were willing to back their manager, and that backfired with the extortionate fees we ended up paying. I still think they could all have become worth it in the long run; with the only one who now maybe drops in that department being Carroll (and him only because I struggle to see him fit into the Rodgers philosophy). Charlie Adam looked good value for money early in the season, and I think Henderson started to show his capabilities after Adam got injured and he was able to play in the middle.

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    • As you point out, Cole, and by the looks of things, Aquilani are returning to get a proper crack at first team action. I think we all remember how good Aquilani was in pre-season last year only to get loaned out, again, then we wondered what could’ve been as he did well at AC Milan.

      The only significance I’ve seen in Sigurdsson going to Spurs is that money, to some players, is more important that the choice of club, or in fact makes the decision for you. Shame. It’s nothing new though and it won’t be the last time a player disregards the stature of a club in favour of the larger wage.

      You only have to look at the players going to Man City for the big payday, not just last season but further back too, Adebayor being a good example. Man City, regardless of the Title win and FA Cup, are not a big stature club, yet they’re able to get big name players, through nothing more than money. The big difference though is that the players they’ve thrown money at are big name players, not a player who had a successful few months on loan at a newly promoted club. When a player such as Aguero demands a big wage you’re not inclined to quibble much because he’s proven quality, used to playing with World Class players at Club AND International level, not something Sigurdsson could boast about.

      Which brings up an interesting point: If Brendan Rodgers isn’t pushing for Sigurdsson to be offered the big wage he was after doesn’t that suggest that the man who managed him most recently thinks he isn’t worth it, that Sigurdsson doesn’t deserve that wage. More so when you consider that Rodgers is keen to give Joe Cole on £90k/week a chance, rather than trying to push through his exit and reduce the wage bill for other signings, Joe Cole after all had a great season in France.

      Many people, fans and media, will point to Sigurdsson’s decision as evidence Liverpool aren’t the big pull you’d expect them to be. I’d point out that we aren’t the financial mugs we have been of late and we’d like to see value in our new signings, not just role over and offer what the other club are offering just to ‘win’ the transfer battle.

      Rodgers is no fool, he’ll have a wide variety of options for each position he wants to fill and he’ll know what represents value for each option. Sigurdsson at £8M and around £30k/week would’ve represented good value, push that up to £70k/week and it looks more like Man City style financial irresponsibility or just plain foolishness.

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  4. “Sigurdsson is a classic example where Liverpool has to pay more because it is Liverpool, ”

    Except you state that you didnt get him because you offered less than Tottenham further up, to get him you had to pay the SAME AMOUNT as Tottenham…

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    • I think the point of Liverpool having to “pay more” would, in it’s context, refer to the agreement the player had in place with Swansea before Rodgers became our Manager.

      Swansea are obviously not in a position to pay £70k/week for any player, while we can comfortably afford to pay such a wage. Swansea offered what for them is a competitive wage and the player accepted, had Rodgers not left to join us the transfer would’ve gone through and Sigurdsson would be a Swansea player, not an overpaid Spurs player.

      Consider too that Rodgers would’ve been party to the negotiations with Sigurdsson at Swansea, now he’s (Rodgers) at Liverpool Sigurdsson and his agent are arguing that his value has risen, in close season with no further achievement/s?

      Spurs simply engaged the oldest negotiating tactic of outbidding. The offer him far more than we (and Swansea) we willing to offer to secure his signature. For some players it simply wouldn’t matter, they’d have a preferred club to play for and that would be the transfer they’d push for. If Spurs were his preferred club why negotiate for £70k off Liverpool, Spurs could’ve just offered him what Swansea and ourselves did and signed him regardless, because Spurs were his preferred club. Which is of course nonsense, he joined Spurs because they offered him twice what we were willing to pay.

      As Rodgers pointed out today, when Sigurdsson was at Hoffenheim he wasn’t getting a game, he came on loan to Swansea and did well, very well perhaps. That loan spell though does not warrant £70k/week.

      His agent, and perhaps Sigurdsson himself too, wanted us to pay more than Swansea, they wanted Spurs to pay more than Swansea. Spurs in the end decided to do so, for whatever reasons they felt it was justified, I’m glad we were sensible and decided that those wage demands weren’t justified.

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  5. Have to disagree, if you had read Rogers statement on the matter you’d know that the reason for not offering higher salary was he refused to offer more than the player had previously agreed to accept at Sawnsea. Good business in my mind shows the true character of the player and not a poor reflection of LFC salary structure

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  6. No chance this is a wake up call. It’s a bit of brilliance not paying over the odds or being els I ransom by a player 99% of football fans had never heard of prior to playin for SWANSEA in January. If he would rather make more money at a small club rather than playing for what Rodgers calls “a footballing institution”, that’s his mistake. Let’s not kid ourselves here we didn’t lose out on inesta or messi we lost out on some unheard of Icelander. Not a damning of our situation at all but a sign of our strength.

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    • 100% agree based on Brendan Rodgers interview yesterday. Clearly B.R told him where to go when he started looking for a lot more than agreed with Reading. We don’t need players like that.

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  7. agree with Tmo. Why this no mark Icelander thinks he’s worth as much as as Suarez.only he and his agent will understand. Well done Bren on telling Sigurdson to shove it

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