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Why Man Utd Depay swoop exposed Liverpool's dithering 'transfer committee'

COMMENT: Okay, Brendan, okay. Let's say Liverpool were never in for Memphis Depay. Even if the source that had Liverpool meeting with the PSV Eindhoven winger's agents - and the player, himself, making a trip to Merseyside - was the same that revealed PSG's influence on Louis van Gaal's intervention on Wednesday... we'll believe you.

But just for argument's sake, let's say Liverpool were interested in the Dutchman. Could their 'transfer committee' have acted in the same decisive manner as Manchester United did late, last week?

Van Gaal had made it clear to PSV he was interested in Depay some months back. There was regular contact between the United manager and the player's agents. And it seemed like all parties were happy to wait until the summer to get a deal done.

But then, in stepped PSG. A fortnight ago, they registered their interest and negotiations were suddenly accelerating last week after Depay had been granted permission to speak with the Parisiens. United had to act fast - and Van Gaal did. Ed Woodward was instructed to get on the phone to Marcel Brands, PSV's technical director, and get the deal done.

There was no vote. There was no hesitation about Depay's fee. And there was no debate about his sell-on value. Indeed, tribalfootball.com can reveal the one clause that held up negotiations early on Thursday morning was PSV's insistence of a percentage of any sell-on fee - which United eventually agreed to.

Now, in the same situation, can we really believe Liverpool's 'transfer committee' could act in the same decisive fashion?

Would it be put to a vote? Would there be lobbying of those members reluctant to shell out £33 million for an Eredivisie player? What about sell-on value? If that hadn't been calculated, would the committee need time to do their sums? Given the scenario of Depay in deep negotiations with PSG, would Liverpool have been capable of getting anywhere close from beating the Parisiens?

Rodgers has defended their 'buying by committee' approach. Along with the manager, it's comprised of head of recruitment Dave Fallows, chief scout Barry Hunter, head of performance and analysis Michael Edwards, Mike Gordon, a Liverpool director who also sits on the board of owners Fenway Sports Group, and... yes, we're still going... chief executive Ian Ayre.

It doesn't exactly suggest a something nimble and quick on its feet.

Big questions need to be asked about Liverpool's transfer strategy. In researching the progress of SC Braga's exciting young midfielder, Danilo Barbosa, tribalfootball.com uncovered that Rodgers had a deal in place for the then Vasco da Gama prospect. A staggered fee, based on bonuses, had been settled, only for Jorge Mendes' Gestifute to match Liverpool's bid with a straight cash offer. Danilo is now starring with Braga and a target for Juventus and Barcelona.

But even if Rodgers is satisfied with the current setup. He must know that just like with a technical director, if the committee's signings do flop, it will be the manager who gets it in the neck. Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli... they may all have been unanimously voted for by the board. But with their summer recruits falling short, it's not Mike Gordon or Dave Fallows who are the subject of screaming headlines, but Rodgers.

A transfer committee, a Moneyball approach, it may work in baseball, but at the top end of European football? After a season of disappointment, Rodgers and Liverpool need to rethink this one.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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