A quick glance at some of the deals and reported prices in this summer’s transfer window and it becomes easy to understand Liverpool’s stance when it comes to choosing their potential targets.
As has been the case for a number of years, homegrown players cost an excess fee and it is a trap the Reds tend to avoid.
In recent weeks alone we have witnessed Man City bidding £100m for both Harry Kane and Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho moving for £73m to Manchester United and Arsenal finally agreeing a £50m deal to sign Ben White.
Jurgen Klopp ’s side had been linked with the latter for over 18 months and the England international was a player they considered when it came to strengthening their defence.
But when it was a choice of £50m on a player with just one year of top-flight experience under his belt and two England caps to his name, or £36m on Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, they understandably turned to the France Under-21s international.
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The fact that Manchester United have been able to bring in World Cup winner, four-time Champions League winner and three-time La Liga champion Raphael Varane in for £34m emphasises further how much homegrown status can hike up a transfer fee.
It was a similar story for Liverpool last summer when looking to recruit a new left-back as they initially turned their attentions to Norwich City’s Jamal Lewis.
Having seen a £10m offer with a sell-on clause rejected, a £12m proposal was also disregarded by the Canaries which prompted the Reds to end negotiations, believing there to be better value signings available elsewhere on the overseas market, as demonstrated by local-rivals Everton’s signing of Lucas Digne from Barcelona for around £17m three years ago.
Klopp had been keen to land the player with him passing all of the club’s checks, but Norwich’s insistence on wanting £20m for his services ensured a deal would not be possible with Liverpool’s decision to walk away purely a financial one as they turned to Kostas Tsimikas instead, with the Greek arriving from Olympiacos in an £11.75m transfer.
A look back over the Reds’ record in the transfer market under Klopp and they have tended to avoid high-profile homegrown talent with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a rare exception.
Yet his arrival in the summer of 2017 still cost the club £35m, virtually the same as what they had spent on Mohamed Salah the same window, however, such a fee still seems excessive when you take into account the England international only had a year left on his Arsenal contract at the time.
Of Klopp's other homegrown arrivals, Steven Caulker signed on loan in January 2016 while Dominic Solanke joined at the end of his Chelsea contract in July 2017 with a reported £4m compensation fee reportedly agreed.
Meanwhile, Harvey Elliott signed at the end of his Fulham contract in July 2019, with a tribunal ruling Liverpool should pay the Cottagers up to £4.3m for the teenager, Andy Lonergan was an emergency free transfer and Ben Davies cost just £500k upfront having entered the last six months of his Preston North End contract.
Considering Klopp is now entering his seventh season on Merseyside, £44.9m spent on six homegrown players is a rather paltry return.
Yet it is a stance the Reds could well be forced to re-think in the not too distant future.
Liverpool are required to name at least eight homegrown players, born before January 1, 2000, if they wish to register a full 25-man Premier League squad each season, while UEFA demands four of these players have spent three years in the Reds’ youth ranks between the ages of 15 and 21 when it comes to naming a Champions League squad.
Now Klopp currently has no issue in terms of quantity when it comes to filling these sports in his domestic and European squads.
The issue, however, comes down to quality and longevity with the majority of the Reds qualifying players facing uncertain at best futures at Anfield.
Liverpool currently boast 10 of-age homegrown players, with half of them also counting as club-trained.
However, Trent Alexander-Arnold, fresh off signing a new contract, Joe Gomez and, at a push, Caoimhin Kelleher are the only ones who can be confident that their long-term futures remain on Merseyside.
From the rest, James Milner will be 36 in January and is out of contract next season. Even if handed a new deal, he is inevitably nearing the end of career.
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Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson’s contract expires in 2023 and the 31-year-old has recently made headlines regarding his future with the Reds skipper seemingly no closer to agreeing new terms and facing the possibility of suffering a similar fate as Gini Wijnaldum.
From the rest, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ben Davies and Nat Phillips have regularly been linked with moves away this summer while, Sheyi Ojo and Ben Woodburn seemingly have no future with the club.
Now Liverpool's numbers could be boosted in the years ahead with the likes of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott counting as both homegrown and club-trained when they become of age to be registered.
But considering there are also question marks over the futures of the likes of Rhys Williams and Neco Williams, it is clear Klopp is fishing at a dwindling pool.
Links with West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen suggest the Reds are well-aware that they do need to address their homegrown numbers in the near future, though evidently not enough to see them move for White ahead of Konate this summer.
And while they opted against moving for Sancho and won’t be rivalling their title-rivals for Kane or Grealish, there will be a time when they are unable to be so selective when it comes avoiding that homegrown premium in the transfer market.
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