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Liverpool transfer strategy scrutinised – ‘Nobody is ridiculing it now, are they?’

The man behind the ‘Moneyball’ system first utilised in America has spoken at length regarding the dramatic success of the transfer strategy of Liverpool despite early criticism.

Liverpool have become known for a high success rate in the transfer window over recent years.

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Their statistics and data driven approach was initially met with scepticism, but has since produced unqualified successes – both at the lower and upper end of the market.

Billy Beane – the man behind moneyball in baseball in the early 2000’s – has praised Liverpool’s shrewd approach, while also dispelling a few common misconceptions regarding the strategy.

“It has a lot of different meanings. The assumption when that term is used is that you are always looking to spend as little as possible, which actually couldn’t be further from the truth,” Beane told the Liverpool Echo (via Goal).

“Some business decisions – or sporting decisions – cost a lot, but they are worth far more than you put into them. For example: Michael Jordan. Whatever he was paid by the Chicago Bulls, he was worth exponentially more.

“We are ultimately trying to find undervalued assets and hope that the player value would continue to increase. The challenge in Oakland is that there were a lot of good decisions that cost a lot of money that we were not allowed to make.

“At Liverpool, a great example is Salah. They spent about £40m on him from Italy, which is a lot of money. At the time, people thought that was too much but as it turned out, he was worth far more than they paid for him.

“To me, that’s a great example of exploiting a data advantage – spending a lot of money, but getting far more value out of it than what people expect.”

“In sports, the challenge is that you are making decisions and you are trying to convince the public – and every person that follows your team from the six-year-old that follows your team to the 81-year-old who has always followed,” he added.

“They will immediately have an opinion, so you face a lot of noise. When we first started, we didn’t see it as courage, we thought it was a more rational way to make a decision.

“Since we were doing it with information, we actually thought it was a less risky way to make decisions as opposed to just having no road map as to how we make decisions.

“When they put together the ‘transfer committee’, they were ridiculed for that and as it’s turned out, it doesn’t sound like it was such a bad idea.

Michael Edwards Liverpool TEAMtalk

“I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t work there, but probably has an idea of what they are doing. It’s obvious they created a very collaborative process driven by information, and they have a manager who is seamlessly involved in that process.

“That’s the goal of every sports team: to do what Liverpool has done. Really what they were saying was that they were going to create a process, driven by data, collaboration, and information.

“Nobody is ridiculing it now, are they? So hats off to the entire organisation and to Edwards. He has had so much success and he really doesn’t get as much international credit as he should because it is brilliantly executed.”

Meanwhile, a shock Liverpool rival has emerged on a list of four clubs aiming to sign an impending Reds free agent.


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