Ryan Gravenberch might have saved Liverpool overpaying £52m on transfers this summer
Analysis from Football Benchmark has revealed the transfers that have seen the biggest overpayment.
As we enter the final hours of the summer transfer window, Liverpool remain active in the market and in pursuit of further reinforcements.
Having lost out to Chelsea for both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, Liverpool, who added Japan captain Wataru Endo earlier in the month from VfB Stuttgart for £16.2m, are chasing a deal for 21-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, with the Dutchman a long-time target for Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.
A fee in excess of £25m has been suggested as a requirement to land the midfielder, although with Ajax due a slice of any deal and Bayern having only had Gravenberch for a little over year after paying the Eredivisie side €18m (£15.4m) for his services, with €5m (£4.3m) in potential add-ons, it is likely that they will want to realise a considerable increase.
Liverpool have long been a team that seeks value in the transfer market when it comes to their targets. For the most part, the Reds look for players with significant growth potential that have a high ceiling for development. That either translates into creating superstars that can deliver on the pitch for the club and help them achieve success, and the financial rewards that come with it, or the see the value of the players increase and are able to sell at a profit even they don’t prove as impactful.
In Gravenberch, if a deal is to be agreed and sealed before the close of play, there is a view that he has the skill set and profile to be the kind of high ceiling signing that Liverpool have become known for, and that a deal for the figures mooted could be a bargain in today’s inflated market.
Earlier this month the Reds made a shock £111m bid for Caicedo, then at Brighton & Hove Albion, meeting the major demands the Sussex side had long had for anyone wanting to take the 21-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder. Chelsea had been stalling, not willing to go above and beyond £80m, but once Liverpool showed their hand the London side scrambled and, despite the potential profit and sustainability headwinds that could be blowing their way, made a deal with Brighton at £115m, breaking the British transfer record for the second time in eight months.
Liverpool then moved on to Lavia having seen several bids below Southampton’s £50m asking price rejected. Chelsea then went above the asking price and the Reds then tried to rescue the deal through a higher offer. It was too late, however.
The whole transfer episode was a pretty embarrassing affair for the Reds, who had started the summer transfer window with the excellent acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, who at a combined £95m already look to be shrewd additions capable of raising the bar at Anfield. But the Caicedo and Lavia deals saw Liverpool break out of their usual stride and get left red faced, and while Chelsea won the duel for both players, by paying such exorbitant sums and further inflating the market, little credit could be given to anyone but the selling clubs themselves for remaining steadfast.
Mac Allister and Szobozslai already look like players who will comfortably operate at a level well above the price tags they carried, and should Gravenberch arrive the hope is that he would do the same.
Analysts at Football Benchmark have looked at the summer transfer window to find out just who has grabbed a bargain and who has paid way more than they should have. Of all the deals that were looked at, two of the transfers Liverpool had been pursuing appear in the top five of the biggest overpayments, while one deal that was abandoned early on for being deemed cost prohibitive, has been viewed as the biggest bargain of the window.
Football Benchmark have placed the Caicedo deal at the very top of the list when it comes to paying above market value. The talented midfielder has played just 45 Premier League games and has no experience in European competition, having arrived for £4.5m from Ecuadorian Serie A side Independiente del Valle in 2021. He was hugely impressive for the Seagulls during their growth under both Graham Potter and then Roberto De Zerbi, but at £115m for a defensive midfielder it has been viewed as a significant overpayment for a club that initially valued him at £80m before Liverpool acted.
Football Benchmark suggest that even using the £100m guaranteed sum and discounting the £15m in very achievable variables that could be tagged on to the deal, Chelsea have paid €39.6m (£33.9m) above market value, essentially the cost of Mac Allister, with Caicedo’s actual market value placed at €76.4m (£65.5m).
Also making the top five in overpriced deals in fifth spot, a top five which also includes Arsenal’s move for Declan Rice and the signings of Neymar and Ruben Neves by Al-Hilal, is Lavia. Chelsea paid €62.1m (£53.2m) for the 19-year-old Belgian midfielder, a sum that Football Benchmark asserted to be €21.5m (£18.4m) above his market value. The hope from Chelsea’s point of view will be that both will deliver on the pitch in seasons to come and prove to be bargains when viewed in a different light, although it is a strategy that comes with much risk.
At the other end of the scale, the biggest bargain of the summer has been hailed as Jude Bellingham, a player who Liverpool had long been admirer of during his time at Borussia Dortmund but a player deemed, when taking into account transfer value, wages, agents fees and future variables, was seen as a bridge too far. That decision to step away resulted in Real Madrid stepping in and signing the supremely talented 19-year-old England international.
The Spanish giants signed Bellingham for an initial €103m (£88.3m) according to Football Benchmark, with his market value pegged at €152.3m (£130.5m), meaning that the analysis suggests that Real Madrid have underpaid by €49.3m (£42.3m), with market value worked out using a number of variables such as age, profile, strength of competition, international honours and performance statistics.
Liverpool removed themselves from their comfort zone to try and land Caicedo and ended up shooting themselves in the foot when it came to Lavia. As the transfer window prepares to close in the coming hours, the club have reverted back to where they have previously found joy in the transfer market in their pursuit of Gravenberch.
Should it come to pass they will be hoping that it makes amends for the mistakes made earlier in the window, although there are still gaps that need to be filled elsewhere in the squad, and having shown a willingness to overspend to land Caicedo the Reds may find the leverage they did have through a reputation as tough negotiators may not be the same as it once was.