Liverpool cannot replicate Brighton's transfer model, as a $23 million striker demonstrates FSG's 'Moneyball' reality. - Flashfootballnews
Home » Liverpool cannot replicate Brighton’s transfer model, as a $23 million striker demonstrates FSG’s ‘Moneyball’ reality.
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Liverpool cannot replicate Brighton’s transfer model, as a $23 million striker demonstrates FSG’s ‘Moneyball’ reality.

A striker is looking more and more like one who got away for Liverpool, but it highlights FSG’s transfer limitations in comparison to a team like Brighton.

Brighton has deservedly received a lot of praise in recent weeks and months. Its form under Roberto de Zerbi has recently stalled, with the Seagulls having to balance European football for the first time, but the south coast side’s rise has been meteoric.

Brighton‘s transfer work has received a lot of attention. Former FSG numbers guru Dr Ian Graham joined the chorus in an ESPN interview, claiming that only Liverpool, Brighton, and Brentford were making proper use of data in an integrated recruitment approach.


It doesn’t take a transfer expert to see that. Brighton has had hit after hit in the market, making huge money on the likes of Moisés Caicedo, Marc Cucurella, and Ben White while always appearing to have a ready-made replacement in the works.

Some have even suggested that FSG replicate Brighton‘s model. While there are some lessons that Liverpool could learn, this is ultimately misguided.

As Graham points out, Brighton and Brentford have actually followed Liverpool’s lead. That’s not to say De Zerbi‘s team hasn’t fine-tuned the ‘Moneyball’ model in some areas, but the guiding transfer principles are already shared.

Crucially, where there are differences in transfer policy, it is frequently due to necessary variation based on the respective clubs’ standing. To be honest, it should come as no surprise that Liverpool and Brighton cannot operate in the same way.

Klopp FSG

For a case in point, consider Bournemouth and, more specifically, Dominic Solanke. He is thriving at the Vitality Stadium after joining from Liverpool for $23 million (£19 million/€21 million) in 2019.

At Anfield, Solanke was a classic Moneyball acquisition. Although he was not a household name, the Chelsea academy product clearly stood out in the data — and market conditions were also favorable, with Liverpool able to sign him for a relatively low tribunal fee.

In some ways, the move was successful. FSG made a tidy profit when it sold Solanke to Bournemouth, as seemed inevitable.

On the field, however, Solanke never quite made the grade under Jürgen Klopp. With six Premier League goals already this season in a struggling Bournemouth side, he’s looking increasingly like one who got away at the age of 26.

Roberto De Zerbi

With a sell-on clause included in the deal that saw him move to Bournemouth, Liverpool could profit again in the future. However, the goal at the time of the deal was clearly to integrate Solanke into the team, which did not happen.

Klopp gave the striker opportunities. In the 2017/18 season, Solanke made 21 league appearances, mostly from the bench.

Despite his apparent talent, Solanke only scored one goal in those appearances. And there are only so many opportunities available at Liverpool.

Patience can only take you so far as a club looking to compete at the highest level. So, despite spotting Solanke early on and securing a low-cost deal, Liverpool had to forego the potential benefits in exchange for a modest transfer windfall.

Returning to Brighton, this is where the difference lies. Its importance grows by the week, but it remains a place where young players can be given opportunities with little pressure. There is less of a need for things to click right away — and, to put it simply, individual quality remains below that of Liverpool, where it is more difficult for any promising talent to break into the team in the first place.

The majority of the players Brighton has brought in will have been known to Liverpool. FSG has invested in cutting-edge talent identification systems. However, as Solanke neatly demonstrates, it is not as simple as signing them and watching them fly.

Solanke has gradually developed into one of the Premier League’s top strikers thanks to the luxury of time at Bournemouth. In that regard, there are parallels to any number of Brighton players who have built massive reputations on the south coast. However, Liverpool is not a stepping stone; it is a final destination, which necessitates a slightly different version of Moneyball.

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