The departure lounge at Anfield has been a busy one this week.
Harry Wilson was the latest to head for the exit door after leaving Liverpool’s pre-season camp in Austria to complete a £12m transfer to Fulham.
After five loan spells away from the club he joined when he was just eight, Wilson exits after just two senior appearances that were over three years apart.
Wilson, though, is unlikely to look back on his 16 years on the club’s book and label it as a failure.
And for very good reason, too.
He might have found it tough to become a regular in the Liverpool first team, but his development at the Kirkby Academy – and away from the club on those various loan deals – helped make him a fully-fledged Wales international.
At the age of 24 and having Premier League experience in the bank from his time at Bournemouth, Wilson is now ready to take flight in the Championship, free of the constant debates about his parent club’s plan for him upon his return.
Marco Silva, it is believed, is keen to tap into Wilson’s ability and experience of the Championship as Fulham attempt to get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.
It’s why the Cottagers were so eager to make Wilson their player at £12m during a time when spending elsewhere across the second tier is virtually nil.
Liverpool usually value their players by the latest market trends and comparable deals.
It was why they were able to fetch nearly £23m for Rhian Brewster, despite having never played a senior minute in the Premier League.
His 11 goals in 22 appearances during a mid-season loan spell at Swansea was enough to determine that sum in the same summer 22-goal Ollie Watkins left Brentford for Aston Villa for around £28m.
Wilson, though, is something of an anomaly this summer given the lack of spending elsewhere throughout the Championship so far.
Fulham, then, are clearly keen to bring the 24-year-old in given the rest of the division have worked their way through the market with loans and free transfers.
And while Wilson never really looked like becoming a mainstay in the Liverpool team under Jurgen Klopp, his story still represents a hugely successful one for those who helped make him the player he is today.
On top of the £12m the Reds will pocket once Wilson moves to Craven Cottage, they have already banked £5m in loan fees across the course of his Anfield tenure.
That makes it £17m for a player who never played in the Premier League for Liverpool, a figure which represents outstanding work from Alex Inglethorpe and a thriving Academy in Kirkby.
Fees like that keep those at the Academy hugely in credit and allow them to continue pursuing some of the brightest talent across the country, like Kaide Gordon, who had already made his Championship debut when he moved in January.
With a track record that has also seen them earn fees for the likes of Ryan Kent, Ovie Ejaria and Kevin Stewart over the last few years, the Academy has the full support of the key decision makers at the club.
“We’re not a charity, so I don’t expect the club to keep giving us money every year and us not pay it back,” Academy director Alex Inglethorpe said in 2019.
“We’ve got to be a self-sustaining business and contribute and pay our way. We can do that in a variety of ways. The most linear is to get someone straight into our first team, so thank you Trent for that.
“Another way might be for someone who doesn’t quite make the first team to be sold and generate some money.”
Wilson’s impending sale will take Liverpool’s incomings this summer comfortably past the £30m mark following the £17.5m banked earlier this week from Marko Grujic and Taiwo Awoniyi’s moves to Porto and Union Berlin, respectively.
Add those sums to the £1.3m earned from Liam Millar’s switch to Basel and Kamil Grabara’s £3m exit to FC Copenhagen and the club are starting to bring in a sizable amount for players who are surplus to requirements.
The question now, however, will inevitably return to how that money is re-invested.
Sources at Anfield remain adamant the outgoing of players is not linked to potential incomings, but at a time when the club are having to be more resourceful than ever, it does not require a leap of faith to believe that the money brought in will help.
Liverpool spent over £80m last summer on Kostas Tsimikas (£11m), Diogo Jota (£45m) and Thiago Alcantara (£25m), but recouped close to half that on the departures of Dejan Lovren, Brewster and Ejaria.
So it stands to reason that the same modus operandi will be in place this time around as the financial hit of the pandemic continues to be absorbed as best as possible across the game.
A forward and a midfielder are believed to still be on the wanted list in the recruitment department, but senior sources have distanced themselves from a sudden dive into the market based on the injection of funds.
Instead, it is stressed that Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards won’t be bringing in a player purely for the sake of boosting numbers.
Klopp is not in the business of stockpiling players and believes any potential signing must be good enough to go straight into the first-team ahead of the current crop of talent at his disposal.
The reticence on the inside surrounds the issue of how readily available those type of players are and at what cost.
Liverpool’s staff are aware of the apparently overwhelming desire of those on social media to see new arrivals, but the online clamouring will do little to force those in power to act purely for the sake of it.
The recruitment at Anfield has become the envy of football during Edwards’ time as sporting director and their exhaustive checks and meticulous approach will not be abandoned any time soon.
It is what has taken the Reds from a side hoping for the top four to a squad that has won both the Premier League and Champions League in the last two years.
It has brought players like Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Mohamed Salah to Merseyside and those at Liverpool are convinced a credible title challenge will emerge again once a fully-fit squad gets up and running.
Like it was in 2020, a shortlist has been drawn up for a new forward, with West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen believed to be one of those who is being extensively assessed.
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Ismaila Sarr also has his admirers at Anfield and interest could yet be reignited after a season in the Championship.
The Hornets, despite their relegation, were demanding £40m with little wriggle room in the negotiations last year before attention turned to Jota elsewhere on the shortlist.
Sarr won Watford’s Player of the Season last term scoring 13 goals and registering four assists and impressed those at Liverpool.
A lot rests on the next moves of Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri, however, and the Reds will listen to offers for both.
Put simply, the club remain on the lookout for new recruits, but are relaxed about what may or may not be feasible in the current climate.
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