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Second Liverpool transfer U-turn would be huge risk as FSG arrival confirmed

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Whether it is down to the changing of the guard between Michael Edwards and Julian Ward or merely imperfect reporting of the facts, there is a perception that Liverpool have changed their minds quite a bit already this summer. Most recently, it emerged that FSG are apparently weighing up the idea of not selling Nat Phillips, despite seemingly only agreeing to an initial loan in the first place in order to help facilitate a permanent sale. Now, a second and related U-turn could be on the horizon.

Neco Williams left the club in very similar circumstances in January, departing on a loan to the Championship with a view to a potential permanent sale. While there was a little less emphasis on the future transfer — FSG were initially not even going to consider loan bids for Phillips — the underlying motivation was much the same. With Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back for Liverpool, there must have been an acceptance within the club that the young Welshman’s long-term future lay elsewhere.

In fact, in allowing Williams to leave mid-season, Liverpool left themselves short at right-back. At times during the run-in, Joe Gomez was forced to deputise there. The full-back was not surplus to requirements in terms of the overall squad picture, yet FSG still let him go out on loan: the motivation surely must have been financial, with the idea being that a successful second half of the season could lead to a big transfer.

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In this respect, FSG could hardly have hoped for more. Williams returned from Fulham with a winner’s medal around his neck, having helped them back to the top flight. He also built up an impressive highlights reel, chalking up eye-catching assists and goals alike. Still only 21, there is bound to be a major market for the Liverpool player.

Despite this, it seems Liverpool are now toying with the idea of keeping Williams on the books. The Mirror reports that he has been told he can leave on loan — a path they are also considering for fellow automatic promotion winner Phillips.

There is some sense behind another loan move. The case of Phillips helps to illustrate the argument : still relatively young and still under contract for a long time, another impressive campaign (this time in the top flight) is likely to help rather than hinder resale value. Add to that the potential loan fees, and it looks like the most profitable route for Liverpool and FSG.

Many of the same considerations apply to Williams. At 21, he is younger than his defensive colleague. His contract runs until 2025. And he probably had the slightly more impressive Championship spell, suggesting he has the greater potential to really kick on and boost his value in the Premier League.

But this second U-turn may be a risk too far for FSG. After all, with Phillips, there is at least the residual possibility of keeping him at Liverpool if a transfer on suitable terms does not materialise. Virgil van Dijk and Joël Matip are getting on in years, and Joe Gomez faces an uncertain future. There is a route into a squad role for the hero of 2020/21. For Williams, the same does not hold true.

After all, Liverpool have just bought Calvin Ramsay, the transfer having been confirmed yesterday morning. The Scot is a mere 18 years old, making Williams look like a seasoned campaigner by comparison. Between him and Alexander-Arnold, the right-back position is locked away for comfortably over a decade: there is simply no need for further cover.

Buyers will be aware of this, and every year that Williams is not sold is a year that his value decreases. It seems clear that he will not want to sign a new contract at Liverpool: even with the expiry date still distant, precious few clubs will want to come in with bumper bids for an asset that is clearly not wanted long-term at Anfield. The best time to sell him was before Ramsay even arrived; the second-best time is now.

Perhaps Liverpool are pinning their hopes on the winter World Cup, where Williams has a reasonable chance of impressing for Wales. This would give his transfer value a nice boost. But even then, he will still be the third-choice right-back at club level, and anyone seeking to acquire him will know that FSG are playing with a weak hand. The benefits of delaying the sale are not at all guaranteed.

FSG have got plenty of transfer gambles right over the years, and they have earned a degree of trust. But while loaning Phillips out again makes sense in isolation, adding Williams to the mix makes it look more like a hoarding policy. Outgoing business is every bit as hard as making new signings, and Ward cannot stall forever at Liverpool.



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