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Liverpool Made the Right Move to Sell Jordon Ibe and Sergi Canos

Via AllinOne Sports

Yesterday, Liverpool confirmed the transfers of Jordon Ibe to Bournemouth and Sergi Canos to Norwich City for a combined sum of £17.5 million initially, with the possibility of rising to £19.5 with the add-ons in Canos’ deal.  Although these two players are still very young at 20 and 19, respectively, the Reds made the right move to sell.  Neither player appears to have much of a future at the club, and at this stage of their development, need regular playing time in order to reach the next level.  Plus, sell-on and buyback clauses were reportedly inserted into both transfers, meaning that if either player reaches their full potential, the Reds could bring them back to Anfield, or reap further profits on a future transfer.  In the end, both transfers were the right decision for Liverpool and the two players.

At the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Ibe was thought to be the like for like replacement for Raheem Sterling after his departure to Manchester City.  At 19 with tons of pace and strength, Ibe was even thought by some to be a potential upgrade on Sterling, especially in the long term.  Unfortunately, Ibe was unable to gain a foothold in the starting eleven, and by the end of the season, Sheyi Ojo had become a more utilized option on the wing.  Ibe still has huge potential thanks to his tremendous physical gifts, but he was unable to impact games enough for a player of his talent level.  It was clear by the end of the campaign that Ibe was lacking confidence and with the Reds’ being currently loaded in attacking areas, it is unlikely Ibe would have gotten the opportunity to regain it.

In Jürgen  Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Ibe primarily operates on the right side of the attacking three behind the striker.  This position was largely held down by Adam Lallana over the second half of the season, and with the arrival of Sadio Mane—who is a perfect fit for that spot—the competition for playing time will be fierce.  Ibe simply does not contribute enough in the final third at this stage of his career, and he only made nine tackles and one interception in almost 1200 minutes of Premier League action this season.  In Klopp’s gegenpressing system, Ibe’s defensive work is simply not enough especially when compared against tackling machine Adam Lallana, and the nearly as good Mane.  As a result, Ibe would have been, at best, third choice on the right wing behind Mane and Lallana.  Plus, Ojo and Lazar Markovic are two others possibly ahead of Ibe as well.  For a 20 year old that needs a lot of refinement through playing time, it is obvious that the situation at Anfield was not conducive to the needs of Ibe’s career at this stage.

Canos’ transfer was far less straightforward than Ibe’s.  According to the Daily Star, Canos wanted a new contract from Liverpool with wages upwards of £10,000 per week after a strong 2015-16 season spent primarily on loan at Brentford.  The Reds were unwilling to go much higher than £3000, so Canos opted to leave for a club where he could earn more playing time and likely an improved wage packet.  Upon leaving Merseyside, Canos stated that he was told that he would not feature in the first team squad this season, giving the Spaniard another reason to search for a new club.  Although Canos was thought to be another player with great potential, he too would have struggled for playing time in his natural wing position.  In fact, Canos was likely behind Ibe on either flank, and without any European commitments this season for the Reds, Canos’ only playing time would have come for the U-21 side.  For a player, that performed well last season in the Championship where he recorded 7 goals and 4 assists before earning his first senior appearance for Liverpool on the final matchday of the season, the discouraging prospects of having to compete at the U-21 level likely sealed Canos’ intentions of leaving Anfield.  Moving back to the Championship with Norwich will provide Canos the playing time he desperately needs at this stage of his career.

While it is unfortunate that Liverpool lost two young players with very good potential, neither had much of a shot at significant role in the near future.  Additionally, those competing for playing time on the wings are very young with Lallana the most senior at 28, Mane at 24, Ojo at 19, and Markovic at 22.  Therefore, it would have been challenging for Canos and Ibe to earn a place in the side in the near term but also the long term as well.  Selling two players without much future at the club for a combined total that could reach almost £20 million is great business by the Reds.  Further, if both players reach their potential and are again wanted by Liverpool, the club can simply re-purchase them from their new clubs at a pre-determined fee (none of the exact figures have been released).  On the other hand, if the Reds do not want Ibe or Canos back but Norwich or Bournemouth choose to sell, Liverpool will again reap the rewards from sell-on clauses inserted into their transfers.

The story of these two moves is that the Reds sold two young players for a significant profit even though they had limited futures at the club.  Thanks to their youth and potential this would normally be a high-risk decision since either player could become a star that the Reds sold well below their future market value.  However, the clauses in the deals nullify the risk of that outcome, dramatically lowering the risk of the decision.  The benefits for Liverpool are clear, making the choice a no brainer for the club.  For the two players, earning significantly more playing time than they would have at Anfield allows them to properly continue their development.  In addition, they will likely become a big part of their new sides, something that might have never happened if they were to stay at Liverpool.  Selling young, high potential players is usually not a smart move for a club, but in this situation the Reds made a good decision—a common theme of the transfer window thus far.

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