Anfield illusion

Anfield illusion masks caution
By Eurosport

11/07/2007 at 11:34Updated

"Since I've been in the first team, I can't remember us making such a major statement of intent in the transfer market as this."

Steven Gerrard's comments on Tuesday were typical of the reaction to Liverpool's latest spending spree.

The Anfield club, armed with wads of cash from new owners George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks, have splashed a club record £20m on Fernando Torres, who joins fellow new boys Lucas Leiva and Andriy Voronin.

Another £16 million is likely to go on tying up deals for Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun, while Rafa Benitez has also set his sights on signing another defender.

Quite an outlay. But in fact the club's net spending will be significantly lower this summer than last - even after the arrivals of Babel and Benayoun.

The £36m shelled out is set against significant income from the sales of Craig Bellamy, Djibril Cisse, Luis Garcia, Mark Gonzalez and Florent Sinama-Pongolle - recouping the club upwards of £24m.

A £12m spend this summer compares unfavourably to last summer, when around £21m was spent on Dirk Kuyt, Jermaine Pennant and Bellamy. The only player of any value sold was Djimi Traore, who joined Charlton for £2m.

The result is reduced spending, set against increased TV revenue from the Premier League and the positive knock-on effects of another Champions League final appearance.

Gillett and Hicks have pulled off the double coup of satisfying manager, players and fans with their spending, while at the same time balancing the books.

Although millions have been pumped into bumper five-year contracts for Gerrard and several other leading players, the new owners' caution is an indicator that foreign owners are not the sugar daddies many clubs hope for.

Even Roman Abramovich's seemingly endless supply of cash has dried up, while the likes of Portsmouth's Alexandre Gaydamak and Randy Lerner of Aston Villa have been fairly restrained.

Bizarrely, it is the Glazer family who are bucking the trend at Manchester United. They were the ones who were going to cut the purse strings at Old Trafford and run the club into the ground, remember?

They are going a very strange way about it if that is their goal, as they have ploughed nearly £70m into the purchases of Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani.

Carlos Tevez should be next in, while Cristiano Ronaldo has been tied to a new five-year contract.

Meanwhile, no major players have been sold, with only Kieran Richardson and Alan Smith likely to be on their way out.