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Luis Diaz, Tottenham and Liverpool’s unwavering transfer policy

With Luis Diaz now settled into Liverpool and making a mark on his debut, the decision to gazump Tottenham to a £50 million deal represents a symbol for the future.

What a whirlwind week in the life of young Luis Diaz.

A late January switch to Anfield, cross-continent flights, a day of having his every move documented by club cameras and a week-ending debut against…Championship side Cardiff City.

It’s already been quite a month for the Colombian speed-demon, who was once deemed too malnourished and slender in frame to make it as a professional footballer.

Diaz’s story is the classic rags-to-riches tale one comes to expect with a Premier League footballer, though it is his acquisition at this pivotal and very specific moment that should most concern us right now.

Liverpool, once again, have proved themselves to be very much ahead of the curve.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 6th, 2022: Liverpool's new signing Luis Díaz during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Cardiff City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Granted, the 25-year-old has made one fleeting cameo for the club against an opponent in a league below, and could yet go on to be a costly failure.

Yet, as recent history suggests, the Reds are operating very much on a plane beyond all others.

A brief rewind to Sunday and Diaz got his first taste of British football’s more exotic flavours when warming up by the Anfield Road end mid-match, to be greeted to a chorus of jeers from the travelling away faithful.

The same away end who had also delighted, several times over, in reminding Virgil van Dijk he was just a shit Sol Bamba.

With half an hour of the game remaining, Diaz trotted out onto the Anfield turf for the first time to a symphony of applause and chanting, which was soon elevated to even greater heights by the return of Harvey Elliott occurring simultaneously.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 6th, 2022: Liverpool's new signing Luis Díaz comes on to make his debut during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Cardiff City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So, a lovely warm start all-in-all. As the misty vapour began to swirl down across the pitch and piercing winds made first-time ball control quite the ask.

And yet, the South American import wearing only the famous red shirt and no base layer wasted little time in getting stuck in and demanding the ball down the left flank.

He looked hungry, alert, dangerous. Cardiff players stood off him, and for good reason. With certain players it is just immediately apparent you have to give them space or a price will be paid.

Less than three months prior Diaz had graced the same pitch under the European lights, as Porto toiled and ultimately failed to provide any resistance to a Liverpool side in full flow, surging to win the Champions League group stage.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 24, 2021: FC Porto's Luis Diaz during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 5 game between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Watching on from the stands that evening, it quickly became clear Diaz was the standout dangerman for the Portuguese giants, with every move geared towards getting him into possession.

The touch, the turns, tricks and poise were all there in abundance but Diaz was unable to spark much into life, aside from a carefully crafted assist which served the ball up on a plate for fellow winger Otavio…only for a sitter to be emphatically missed at the Kop end.

Diaz, it was clear, was playing in a team far below his own ability. A diamond in the rough, yearning for that next step – a platform to shine. Just place both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in your minds for a moment, and allow the early comparisons to draw themselves.

Meanwhile, however, a show of hands please: how many people thought Diaz was ‘the real deal’, for want of a better phrase?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 6th, 2022: Liverpool's new signing Luis Díaz warms-up during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Cardiff City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Football is so inflated and masked in hyperbole these days that it really is difficult to know which players just about cut the mustard and which are head and shoulders, stratospherically better than their peers.

Watching Liverpool do a routine job over Porto and pocket all three points, I was left with a strong feeling Diaz would be gracing the Premier League very soon.

I’d be lying if I said I thought that would have been with Liverpool.

For all the trickery and acute ball control, something about the performance flagged up the hallmarks of a panic Premier League bid. We’re talking West Ham here, or a newly minted Newcastle – or indeed Tottenham, who came very close to ultimately acquiring his services.

These were the teams who came to mind when considering a transfer for a highly promising starlet.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2016: Southampton's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his side's winning third goal against Liverpool during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, there is precedent. Leeds taking a gamble on Raphinha is perhaps the most striking example of this in recent years. Perhaps Watford bringing Richarlison to English shores before that. Or, indeed, Mane’s own journey in being snapped up by Southampton.

The point being made here is that sometimes, some players you just need to swoop for, come what may.

After being heavily linked with Raphinha in the summer of 2020, Liverpool did not wade into a bidding war when Leeds placed a cheque upon the table. Why? Evidently, the actual evidence itself was not present. Not enough of it, anyway.

This is why it becomes all the more interesting to see the way Liverpool behaved this summer when it was flagged up on the club’s radar that Tottenham were in advanced negotiations with Diaz and that personal terms had been agreed with the player.

Ruthlessly and efficiently the Reds entered proceedings, wasted little time in offering the more favourable terms Porto wished for in terms of payment and then played the all-important trump card: getting the player on the phone to speak with Jurgen Klopp.

Done deal.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 6th, 2022: Liverpool's new signing Luis Díaz during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Cardiff City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s scouting department has become world-renowned in recent years as the Reds have climbed back to the summit of European football, and so it is an automatic guarantee that Diaz has been on the hit-list for some time.

The difference with the case of the Reds’ new No. 23 is that the club were not prepared to wait and perhaps attempt to buy him off a rival at a later date. This is the same thought process that went through the heads of the hierarchy when word got out that Diogo Jota was available to be prised from Wolves a couple of summers ago.

That move, we can all agree, has gone spectacularly well.

And so while Diaz brings with him not only reinforcement for the forward line and excitement in the bucketload, he also brings a symbol for the future.

It’s one of flowing optimism, given that it shows the club will not relinquish their main targets at any cost.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 6th, 2022: Liverpool's new signing Luis Díaz during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Cardiff City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In Diaz, they have brought in an unassuming star void of all-destructive ego or heightened opinion of self. A hardworking winger with an appetite for goal and a huge point to prove.

Remind you of anyone? A certain Egyptian, perhaps, some four years ago?

One game and one assist already under the belt. Diaz looks set to be thrust into the limelight for Premier League action against Leicester on Thursday and, judging by recent reports, he could well run parallel with the returning Salah, who has returned immediately following AFCON heartbreak.

These are exciting times. It feels like that has been said for many years on the bounce now. Long may it continue.

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