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SEALED DEAL: Liverpool has successfully signed Napoli midfielder €150m



SEALED DEAL: Liverpool has successfully signed Napoli midfielder €150m

Liverpool just signed two players for ‘price’ of one and Mason Mount proves it
Days after Liverpool unveiled Dominik Szoboszlai as their second summer signing, Manchester United confirmed Mason Mount’s arrival.

The 24-year-old has penned a long-term deal at Old Trafford just a matter of months after the Reds were linked with potential interest in the former Chelsea midfielder.

Liverpool were said to have tracked the England international after turning their attention away from Jude Bellingham. But Jurgen Klopp’s side then cast their eye on Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister as he was placed near the top of the transfer shortlist at the beginning of May.

It was reported that price tag, wage demands and lure of Champions League football were determining factors that ended Mount’s association with the Stamford Bridge club – and determined his next destination.

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On Wednesday, he was confirmed as a Red Devil, taking the number seven shirt after the two Premier League clubs agreed on a £55m deal plus a possible £5m in add-ons.

Both The Athletic and the Manchester Evening News have reported that the midfielder will earn £250,000 a week at Old Trafford which would score him among some of their highest earners alongside Jadon Sancho, Casemiro and Raphael Varane.

Mount missed the end of the season for Chelsea through injury as newly-appointed manager Mauricio Pochettino cashed in on the player as he entered the final year of his contract.

Early on last season, midfield became a glaring area for criticism after the department stood out as a weak point in Klopp’s side. The engine room was susceptible for a number of catalyst moments in a chastening campaign, but the Reds managed to fight back and salvage Europa League football.

The spotlight prompted the focus to be on the middle of the pitch this summer – with the acquisitions of Mac Allister and Szoboszlai already confirmed. With the window set to close on September 1, the Reds are weighing up a possible third midfield signing as Romeo Lavia of Southampton remains under consideration.

Liverpool triggered the release clauses of both new recruits, which opened up negotiations with RB Leipzig and Brighton.

The two North West rivals will be battling to finish in the top four as the Reds look to re-establish their place among Europe’s elite. United are looking to make goalkeeping and forward additions following the arrival of the Cobham academy graduate, but now reportedly face financial restrictions if they want to land their desired targets.

After being in pursuit of Bellingham, who would leave for Real Madrid in a British transfer deal, the Reds opted to spread their transfer spending wisely which has brought them to the point of their two summer signings.

But wages tell a significant story when assessing all three major midfield deals at Liverpool and United so far this summer – and the overall ‘price’ at play.

With reports that Mount is arriving at the Theatre of Dreams as one of their highest earners on £250,000 per week, Liverpool have managed to recruit two midfield options in Szoboszlai and Mac Allister for around the same salary figure combined – with wages for each man believed to be in the region of £120,000 per week.

United have seemingly been forced to pay a wage packet which often comes with the cost of acquiring English players. During his time at Stamford Bridge, Mount signed numerous extensions as Chelsea battled at the peak of the Premier League and Champions League.

Liverpool welcomed Szoboszlai from the Bundesliga where traditionally wages are lower and with the acquisition of Mac Allister, he arrives relatively early in his career after a breakthrough campaign in the English top-flight and on the international stage with Argentina.

If reports are to be believed, the shrewd business from the Reds has seen them land two high-calibre players at a similar wage outlay as what their M62 rivals have spent on one signing.

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Liverpool avoided $64m transfer mistake as Roméo Lavia ‘plan’ goes horribly wrong for Man City
While Liverpool’s early transfer business has been positive, Manchester City fans may well be looking on feeling somewhat smug.

The Reds have been left with no choice but to make multiple signings this summer, leaving them unable to go after any truly big-money acquisitions. That approach has already cost them a shot at Jude Bellingham, while Joško Gvardiol looks set to trade his Liverpool ‘dream’ for a move to the Etihad (as per The Times).

Not only that, but City fans are much more eager to bring up net transfer spend when it comes to debates about competitive imbalance compared to Liverpool and other rivals. That has certainly not always been the case, with the Abu Dhabi owners spending hugely to establish itself in the first place — a period which is now the subject of numerous Premier League allegations — but the modern version of the club appears in many respects self-sustaining.

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There are a number of reasons for that. For one, consistently spending big money on a raft of squad players inevitably means that there is something of a revolving door of very sellable assets. Manchester City was able to spin a quick profit on Ferran Torres and Danilo, for instance.

It also banked a significant sum last summer for Raheem Sterling. Signed from Liverpool way back in 2015, that initial transfer fee has long since been forgotten by many ‘net spend’ calculations, but in fact Manchester City sold him for almost exactly the same sum it cost to buy him in the first place.

But one of the more overlooked ways that Manchester City is now able to reliably make money is its academy. In one sense, this is just an added bonus of being at the very top of the game — youth players see their values inflated purely by being associated with the club, especially if they see a handful of first-team minutes.

It must also be said that Manchester City has invested heavily and effectively in the academy setup, and has produced a number of very talented players. The likes of Phil Foden and perhaps Rico Lewis may well save huge amounts in future transfer fees.

Meanwhile, Gavin Bazunu and Roméo Lavia have already banked money for the club, having been sold to Southampton last summer for a combined $32m (£26m/€30m).

With all due respect to Bazunu, the deal to cash in on the goalkeeper looks nothing short of inspired. No goalkeeper in the league underperformed by a wider margin as the Saints went down despite expected goals dictating they should have narrowly survived.

However, there may already be some seller’s regret when it comes to Lavia. A year on, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are all credited with an interest in signing the midfielder (as per TalkSport), with a price of at least $64m (£50m/€59m) quoted.

Roméo Lavia has been heavily linked with a move away from Southampton this summer

(Image: Getty Images)

Manchester City was not blind to his potential, but felt Rodri blocked any immediate path to minutes. There must have been high-fives all round when the eventual transfer plan was cooked up — pure profit to bank on the books, but a buy-back clause set at a relatively reasonable $50m (£40m/€47m) in the event Lavia fulfilled his considerable promise.

A year later, there were some suggestions that Liverpool could seek to do something similar with Fábio Carvalho. Unlike Lavia, he is not an academy prospect, having been signed from Fulham last summer. But the Reds paid a relatively trifling fee, and would have banked a reasonable profit from any sale — with a buy-back acting as a potential insurance policy. Instead, though, Jürgen Klopp has stuck to his guns, with Carvalho instead heading out on loan to RB Leipzig.

The current situation regarding Lavia may well have served as a stark warning. Football Insider claimed last month Pep Guardiola’s side could even join the bidding, outbidding its own dormant buy-back clause and paying around $39m (£31m/€36m) more than what he was sold for last year.

What looked at face value like a no-lose transfer plan has gone horribly wrong. Manchester City must either sign Lavia back on the open market, taking a major hit in the process, or else watch a rival snap up one of its brightest alumni. Moreover, even if the clause was active, that could not prevent other clubs matching the bid, and the player opting to move elsewhere.

Liverpool then looks to have made the right call on Carvalho. If, as Klopp hopes, the 20-year-old can prove his talent in Germany next season, the Reds will get him back for nothing before reaping the rewards. If the loan doesn’t go to plan, then a decision can be made on whether to sell.

The modern Manchester City may like to paint itself as a bastion of market efficiency, but this is one trick that Klopp should be very wary about copying.

An original version of this article was first published on June 7.

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