News that Liverpool will not be “splashing the cash” this January makes its way onto a number of back pages on Monday, with Jurgen Klopp adamant that his club will not further strengthen this month.
It helps the Anfield club, of course, that they have just spent £36m to snap up Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo before the January transfer window had even opened. It could easily be argued outside of Merseyside that the only reason more cash will not be splashed imminently is that Liverpool has only just forked out a significant sum on top of the guaranteed £64m and potential £85m that they spent in summer to sign Darwin Nunez in the same attack.
Whatever the semantics, Liverpool’s signing has to be seen as a statement of intent. At a time when the team has struggled to hit the heights of recent seasons and with the club facing key departures off the field, snapping up Gakpo without a protracted chase or bidding war is a sign that they still mean business and are intent on strengthening when necessary even if it comes in the usually quiet January window.
Liverpool is by no means alone. League leaders Arsenal are trying to get a deal over the line for Mykhaylo Mudryk, a 21-year-old forward valued at £85m by Shakhtar; Erik ten Hag has made it clear his resurgent United side wants to strengthen this month; Chelsea has agreed a £35m deal for a defender and are also pursuing Benfica and Argentina midfielder, Enzo Fernandez.
All this activity from City’s rivals does not mean they need to react by following them into the January window. The Blues did more business than they would usually do to refresh the squad in summer, do not tend to sign first-team players at this time of year, and are not swayed by the actions of other clubs.
However, it shows Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain the competition that they are up against in England. Whatever some managers might insist, the financial might stretches well beyond the one or two teams that is common in every other European league.
Clearly, several feel either encouraged enough by what they could achieve this season with reinforcements that they are willing to spend considerably this month. Even if City are still confident their own squad can get them over the line to achieve their goals, they must admit that they will have to conquer better versions of the rivals that they have faced in the first half of the season if they are to prosper.
t is a challenge that Guardiola and his team will relish, but nonetheless a more difficult task than they might have envisaged at the beginning of the season.