And Paul Pogba perhaps sums up that problem better than anyone for United. The Frenchman was signed for a then world record of £ 89million four years ago but still has not shown solid form for the club.
The lack of success of the World Cup winner for United led to a heated debate between Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on Monday Night Football last week. As the former Liverpool center-back noted of Pogba, “After four years we are still debating his position.
His struggles appear to be symptomatic of the difference between United and their big rivals Liverpool these days. Where the Manchester team appear to be focused on buying superstar players, however they fit into the squad, the Reds are buying according to a plan.
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Take Fred, for example. He cost United £ 52million and it was later reported that their then manager Jose Mourinho didn’t even want him. You cannot imagine such problems at Anfield, where Michael Edwards and Jurgen Klopp seem to be working in perfect harmony.
While it is almost impossible to compare the transfer fees of multiple seasons due to the inflation that has pushed them up, the Liverpool starting midfielder against West Ham on Saturday cost less than half that that United splashed out on Pogba alone.
Captain Jordan Henderson more than reimbursed his £ 16million costs from the summer of 2011, Gini Wijnaldum cost £ 25million the same summer Pogba returned to Manchester and Curtis Jones went through the youth system of the club.
Add in Xherdan Shaqiri, who established the winning goal, and added-time substitute James Milner, and you still only get a total transfer expense of around £ 54million for all five players (plus a substantial salary). to attract free agent Milner, of course).
It’s not that Liverpool haven’t signed midfielders for higher fees, but they have usually been hired to meet a specific need.
Fabinho joined for £ 39million in 2018 to play as a defensive midfielder, which then saw Henderson return to his preferred forward position. Naby Keita cost £ 48million, aiming to add dribbling and creativity to the Reds midfield.
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And by adding to a stable and successful squad, Liverpool’s new signings can be slowly integrated into the squad, rather than being rushed to solve problems. Donny van de Beek a played a shade of over 300 minutes for United following his £ 35million summer transfer, fans and pundits are already calling for his immediate inclusion in the squad for every game.
Compare that to Fabinho, who only made a debut for Liverpool in the League or Europe in the last week of October in his debut season on Merseyside. By the time the Brazilian had the chance to establish himself in the squad, he knew exactly how the squad worked and what his role would be.
And while Pogba is still on the hunt for a home in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting XI, every man in Klopp’s squad knows exactly what is expected of them. This is why Liverpool have been able to build an effective midfielder at a much lower cost than wasted by rivals on the M62.