As every transfer this summer will be in the Premier League, the actual amount being committed will be somewhat obscured by the advertised transfer fee.
Last summer, for example, Erling Haaland cost a significant amount more than the $81 million (£64 million / €75 million) escape clause that Manchester City put into effect when wages and agency fees were factored in.
Even more modest moves are a lot more expensive than just the transfer fee. Dominik Szoboszlai’s release clause was $77 million, but with his salary on a five-year contract, Liverpool will have spent much more than that.
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Liverpool have often signed players on the verge of becoming superstars under FSG, planning to bring them in at lower wages and then slowly build them up as they progress.
For example, Sadio Mane was brought in in 2016 before receiving a pay rise in 2018 as a reward. He still had one year left on his contract when Liverpool sold him. Mohamed Salah was the one who got the third pay raise and contract extension.
It’s been the same kind of strategy this summer. Liverpool have so far signed Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister, both of whom will earn around $150,000 a week, according to ECHO, well below what other clubs are willing to pay.
Mason Mount, for example, signed with Manchester United this week, earning him a contract worth more than $ 300,000 a week. Over a five-year deal, that amounts to about a $32 million difference between, say, Mount and Szoboszlai.
An exception was made by Liverpool for the signing of Thiago Alcântara, but the former Bayern Munich man came at a relatively low transfer fee (less than half of what Mount Manchester United cost) and so the overall cost of his addition was lower.
The rest of the transfers brought in were at relatively modest wages compared to what is offered elsewhere. It wasn’t until last year that Salah moved into the same ballpark as players like Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz, for example. In general, players start lower and work their way up the ladder.
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It works twofold for Liverpool. On the one hand, the wage structure is manageable and everyone earns similar amounts instead of one player being miles ahead of the rest; on the other hand, everyone is incentivized to keep improving and win trophies.
Even someone like Darwin Núñez, who is a potential club record signing, was paid a relatively low salary compared to the rest of the Premier League’s biggest deals, meaning Liverpool have avoided handing out masses of big contracts in all scenarios.
At Manchester United, Mount and Sancho are not alone. Raphaël Varane, Casemiro, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes all have similarly large sums – two of them are 30-plus and Martial is redundant. Marcus Rashford, when he does a new deal, will join that group in that group.
While Rashford can easily claim he’s worth it to the club, there’s a risk to the others. Casemiro has four years left on his contract despite already being 31, while the sale of Martial would mean he would take a big pay cut at his new club (unless he leaves for free when his contract expires in 2024).
There must also be players who contribute much more than Martial and wonder why they don’t deserve what he deserves.
Liverpool has the better model. While FSG has invested heavily in wages (according to The Mirror, Liverpool had the fourth-largest wage bill in the Premier League last year, behind Chelsea and both Manchester clubs), it is more evenly distributed and related to performance, meaning situations such as Martial and Sanchos – who has been a clear disappointment since moving from Borussia Dortmund to Old Trafford – is being shunned.
The Mirror’s report says Liverpool paid $61m (£48m/€56m) less in salaries than Manchester United last season, and with Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now gone, even with new signings , things should balance out. Only when those new players have proven themselves will there be increases.
Mason Mount may be a big success for Erik ten Hag, but he represents the latest big gamble Manchester United have taken, as Liverpool remain more risk averse.
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