Liverpool's owner, Fenway Sports Group, has hardened its resolved to reduce the club's exorbitant spending on agent fees, leading to a complication in the proposed £12m transfer of Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge next month.
Anfield officials are at an advanced stage in deals for the forward and Thomas Ince, the former Liverpool trainee who joined Blackpool for a £250,000 compensation fee in August 2011, to the extent that Sturridge had been due to travel to Merseyside on Wednesday for a medical. Those plans were shelved late on Tuesday following a problem in negotiations between Liverpool and the 23-year-old's representative, Octagon, which wants a percentage of any sell-on fee. Liverpool will try to secure Kevin Gameiro on an initial six-month loan from Paris St-Germain should the deal collapse.
Brendan Rodgers has spoken to other Premier League managers who have worked with Sturridge and is hopeful the former Manchester City youth player will sign. Gameiro, however, has emerged as an alternative. The 25-year-old has made eight appearances for France but has found his opportunities limited at PSG since the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Everton are also interested in the PSG striker.
Liverpool remain confident of signing Sturridge in January, however, and providing Luis Suárez with much-needed support. The England international is keen to sign for Rodgers and has agreed personal terms having seen his opportunities limited at Stamford Bridge since the departure of André Villas-Boas as manager. Liverpool are also heading a host of Premier League clubs interesting in taking Ince from the Championship, with the 35% sell-on clause they inserted into his contract with Blackpool enabling them to reduce the £6m asking price.
Talks with Octagon have stalled, not broken down, however, but that comes at a time when FSG is determined to reduce Liverpool's spending on agent fees and to get better value for money in the transfer market than it has done since buying the club in October 2010. The club have given an eye-watering £31.3m to agents since 2008‑09, a figure topped only by the billionaire-owned Manchester City (£39m) and Chelsea (£31.8m) in the same period.
Recently released figures for 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012 showed only City spent more than Liverpool in that time, moreover. They topped the agent payments list, and the Premier League in May, with £10,537,982 spent while Liverpool, who finished eighth and sacked Kenny Dalglish as a result, paid agents £8,600,444. Manchester United spent £3,681,580. FSG is determined to harden its negotiating stance with agents, rather than a player's personal terms, and believe Liverpool have been viewed as a soft-touch in recent years.
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image: © Ben Sutherland