How Liverpool can afford to pay Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk’s asking price

27 June 2017

Liverpool’s summer targets Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk are reportedly both available for an eye-watering £70 million each, but the Reds can still afford that.


Following the £36.9 million arrival of Mohamed Salah, and the incoming free transfer of Chelsea striker Dominic Solanke, Klopp has set his sights on the big-money pair.

Both Keita and Van Dijk are heavyweight targets for the Reds: players who are capable of taking Klopp’s side up another level, as they prepare for another foray into European football.

But RB Leipzig and Southampton are believed to be seeking £70 million deals for their key men, which would ensure Liverpool almost double their current transfer record this summer.

There is certainly a debate as to whether the Reds should pay such significant fees for two players currently operating outside of Europe’s elite, but the question of whether they can is moot.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 21, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Premier League match against Middlesbrough at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Previous transfer windows under Fenway Sports Group have largely seen Liverpool look to flesh out their squad ranks—even last summer, when Klopp saw seven new faces arrive.

Only three of those could be considered key players in 2016/17—Joel Matip, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane—with Alex Manninger, Loris Karius, Ragnar Klavan and Marko Grujic serving as cover.

In 2015/16, Brendan Rodgers also brought in seven players; the season before that saw eight arrive; the previous campaign introduced six new names on Merseyside.

Having already broken their transfer record to bring in Salah this summer, Klopp is primed to focus on quality over quantity for 2017/18.

The German’s experience of the Champions League means he knows the need for a higher calibre of talent next term. There is certainly justification to bring in both Van Dijk and Keita, who meet that specification.

DERBY, ENGLAND - Monday, November 28, 2016: Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho in action against Derby County during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at Pride Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In line with this shift in emphasis, the pursuit of top-level signings will be aided by the sales of deadwood acquired in previous campaigns.

Liverpool are set to hold firm on their valuations of both Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno, which stand at £30 million and £15 million respectively, while a host of other names are also set to depart.

The sale of Lazar Markovic is expected to generate at least £12 million, while peripheral midfielders Lucas Leiva and Kevin Stewart leaving could see a further injection of around £10 million.

There could also be a controversial exit in the form of Daniel Sturridge who, despite his clear quality, has struggled to hold down a regular role under Klopp due to regular fitness issues.

If Paris Saint-Germain or West Ham United firm up their interest in the 27-year-old, who still has two years left on his contract, the Reds can be expected to demand a significant fee given his pedigree.

These sales could certainly cover the signing of one of Keita or Van Dijk, as Klopp overhauls his squad.

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho (no. 10) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with team-mates during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

There is also the case of Liverpool’s heightened success last season to consider, with their rise in the Premier League last season prompting a surge in income.

The Reds finished fourth in the English top flight, securing their place in the Champions League play-offs in August.

And due to their challenge at the top end of the table, they were chosen for TV broadcast for 29 of their 38 games in the Premier League, which is a record for a single team in one season.

With the increase in TV income, their near-ubiquity on Sky Sports and BT Sport and an impressive finish, Liverpool earned a remarkable £148.1 million for the 2016/17 season.

If this was allocated towards signings alone, it would cover the arrivals of one of Keita or Van Dijk as well as Salah and another widely reported summer target, Arsenal‘s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

This is unlikely, but it certainly underlines the increased financial power Liverpool can impose.

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - Monday, September 19, 2016: Liverpool's Cameron Brannagan celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the FA Premier League 2 Under-23 match at Broadhall. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Stewart, Markovic and Sturridge aren’t the only players who could leave Merseyside this summer, with a host of academy talents also tipped to leave.

Jon Flanagan, Connor Randall, Cameron Brannagan and Pedro Chirivella could all move on, and while fees for the young quartet could prove to be nominal, they could cover the signing of a left-back.

Liverpool have been linked with Hull City‘s Andrew Robertson, for example, and the Scotland international is unlikely to cost more than £10 million.

Signing Robertson, Solanke, Keita, Salah, Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain would, of course, also involve a major outlay in terms of wages, particularly for the latter quartet, but there is still scope to include this.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 17, 2010: Liverpool's owner John W. Henry during the 214th Merseyside Derby match against Everton at Goodison Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The redevelopment of Anfield’s Main Stand last summer has brought an increase in matchday revenue to the tune of an estimated £20 million a year—and that is before a deal for naming rights is finalised.

This would amount to almost £400,000 per week, added to the shearing of high earners such as Sakho and Lucas, allowing the Reds to cover salaries for their high-calibre arrivals.

FSG remain eager to ensure Liverpool is a self-sustaining operation, but even as ambitions are heightened this summer, there should be no issue in spending a combined £140 million on Keita and Van Dijk.

In fact, doing so would give Klopp a better chance of leading the Reds to further success—and, naturally, financial prosperity.

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