To deal or not to deal?

Two years ago the world watched agog as Liverpool FC forked out a staggering £35 million for the services of up-and-coming Geordie striker Andy Carroll. Much as the 1.91m youngster had ingratiated himself to Newcastle fans by scoring 17 goals in the 2009-10 season, helping the team climb back into the top flight from the championship, he was still pretty much an unknown commodity on the world stage. And though he had won a handful of England caps, he was a far cry from a regular in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up. Yet those who went to bed early on January 31st 2011 woke up to the news that £85 million had changed hands and two record buys made, the other being that of Spaniard Torres by Chelsea. Carroll was evidently brought in to fill in the void the new Blues striker had left.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Carroll never really set the Kop alight and with Brendan Rodgers keen on offloading the powerhouse forward, his Liverpool carrier appears all but over. The man he replaced has arguably fared just as dismally, apparently crushed by the weight of his £50 million price tag. But while Roman Abramovich and John Henry may be ruing their laxness with their purse strings, somewhere in Germany, Hans-Joachim Watzke and the rest of the Borussia Dortmund hierarchy must pinch themselves every time they look at their trophy cabinet in light of what they’ve spent on players. Prior to the arrival of former Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marco Reus this season, the club had spent a sum total of €34m on acquisitions. This translates to over £5 million less than what was splashed out on the ponytailed Geordie in whom Kenny Dalglish saw a veritable goal machine. Dortmund’s most expensive squad member before Reus’ return was Julian Scheiber, brought in from VFB Stuttgart for five and a half million Euros. Prolific Pole Robert Lewandowski cost a million less.

The goal the Dortmund number 9 scored this weekend to put the icing on a 4-2 win over Augsburg was his 21st of the season, putting him on course to nab the golden boot he missed last season despite netting 22 times. Newly acquired winger ‘Rolls’ Reus has 10 goals so far. Compare this to the 3 goals and 3 assists Stewart Downing has managed for the Reds in his two seasons there. A paltry return by all standards for the jaw-dropping £20 million the LFC honchos relinquished for the left-footed winger’s signature. The far deadlier Reus cost his employers about £12m.    

And look what the youthful Westphalians have achieved; two back-to-back Bundesliga titles and automatic Champions League qualification for the past two seasons. They even piped perennial rivals Bayern Munich in the final of the DFB-Pokal to win the double last year. This season they have furthered their European ambitions by making it to the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League despite losing the services of gifted Japanese Shinji Kagawa. The Kagawa transaction saw Dortmund pocket a cool £17 million, more than half of what it had cost the club to assemble their entire pre-Marco Reus squad. Lewandowski is one of the hottest commodities in Europe right now and the long line of suitors vying for his signature should be prepared to part with no less than £25m for his services. Given the striker’s eagerness to leave the Signal Iduna Park for pastures new, Dortmund will probably cash in on the Poland international this summer. And when they do they’ll be stuffing the cash into coffers already bursting, and who knows, they may add to them by going all the way to win the UCL; they do have the quality after all.             

The Merseysiders, on the other hand, will be happy if they make it into the Europa League this season. Word is they have reached an agreement with West Ham United to make Carroll’s deal permanent. The Hammers are adamant that despite him scoring just once for them since joining them on loan, Andy Carroll will finally come good. But even if an agreement is reached between the clubs and the player, the best Liverpool FC can hope for is a £17m loss on the investment they made. Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp meanwhile, will have a sleepless summer trying to fend off clubs lusting after rising German star Mario Goetze. A product of the Dortmund academy, he cost the club practically nothing, but whoever his successful buyer is, should he depart, will likely end up some £30 million light.

Now, we all know Carroll’s been dreadfully unlucky with injuries and Torres’ two Europa League goals could be signs of returning form but, as summer approaches, could it be time English Premier League clubs tamed the attendant madness and borrowed a leaf from the transfer policies of foreign clubs?      

Phil Kimonge