Diogo Jota’s summer move from Wolves to Liverpool was fuelled by Arsenal striking a similar deal to bring Nicolas Pepe to the Emirates, according to a top agent.
The Reds were initially reluctant to go into the transfer market. The coronavirus meant most clubs had to seriously re-evaluate their summer spending.
That caution meant Liverpool were reluctant to fork out for Timo Werner. The German striker eventually moved to Chelsea.
It looked as if the champions’ only spending would be the modest £11.75million paid for left-back Kostas Tsimikas.
However, Liverpool transfer chief Michael Edwards found an alternative. He was able to come with a deal that meant Jota could move to Anfield in an affordable way.
He settled on a fee of £41m with Wolves. But the initial outlay was just £4m with an agreement to pay the rest in instalments.
That was a similar arrangement to the one Arsenal did with Pepe. They paid £20m up front for the Lille winger with the rest of his £72m fee spread over five years.
One former agent noted the similarities and, under anonymity, gave his thoughts to the Liverpool Echo.
He said: “There will be teams that will always spend no matter what because they have the means to, namely Manchester City and Chelsea.
“For Manchester United there is a business aspect behind it all and they have to deliver value to shareholders, while Liverpool operate within the confines of a business model.
“So if the deals aren’t right for either then they likely won’t get done. Arsenal are another who fall into that bracket, as well as Spurs who still have all the debt associated with the new stadium to contend with.
“Arsenal became the first to really push through a massive deal and spread over a period of time like they did when they signed Nicolas Pepe. And that was before coronavirus was even a concern.
“They were able to sign a player for over £70m and spread that payment, their transfer spend for that particular deal being booked as £20m or so in that financial year.
“They were buying from a smaller club, where the player’s value was at it’s highest for that particular club. Also, when a player wants to go and there is a substantial deal, if the player wants that to happen then it will happen eventually.
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Liverpool did eventually appear to loosen the purse strings in the summer. As well as Jota and Tsimikas, they also brought in the classy Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich. That took spending to £76.75m.
However, sales recouped £47m. They sold Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United for £23m. And letting Ki-Jana Hoever go to Wolves, Dejan Loven to Zenit St Petersburg and Ovi Ejaria to Reading meant their net summer spend was just short of £30m.
The former agent said: “I think in a normal climate you would have seen Wolves dig in a bit more over Jota. But I think they saw that the best deal they were likely to get any time soon was the one that Liverpool had presented. A big fee spread over time.
“Clubs are having to be more careful when structuring deals than they ever have before because their finances are more exposed because of Covid. Jota’s deal makes sense because it is a small fee initially. The rest of the deal is financed over time when, hopefully, things start to return to normal which means that club’s revenue streams improve.
“The market isn’t as strong as it was, and that was going to be inevitable. Even Barcelona and Real Madrid are being more careful.”
Jota, of course, has made a stunning start to life at Anfield. He’s already netted seven times in just 10 appearances. That included a hat-trick away to Atalanta in midweek.
On average, he’s scored a goal every 71 minutes for Liverpool so far.