The rumor mill went viral in Liverpool this week.
Social media has been inundated with talk of a Qatari conglomerate on the verge of buying the club.
But anyone expecting an imminent takeover to follow a major spending spree in the transfer market will be disappointed.
The reality is that two months after Fenway Sports Group began a global search for a new investment, little has changed.
Yes, the owners are open to providing sources but FSG seniors are adamantini that there is no truth in the speculation that they are close to agreeing a deal with the Qataris or anyone else who would bring the veil to the 12-year mark.
FSG, which paid around £300 million for the property which is now valued at more than £3billion ($3.7bn), is more likely to sell a small portion of the club than take full ownership. And even then there is nothing threatening on that front.
US banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley continue to play interest. FSG new attack. This will always be a process.
What about the rest of the time? In the absence of significant funds to add more support in the January window following the £37million signing of striker Cody Gakpo, the Liverpool campaign appears to be resting on Jurgen Klopp’s ability to have more of the talent already at his disposal.
But the FA Cup third-round replay victory over Wolves was a welcome step in the right direction.
After throwing off the misery of the hosts’ miserable defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion, Liverpool need a much-needed injection of positivity. They will have a chance to improve when they return to the Amex Stadium in the fourth round at the end of the month.
Klopp’s making eight changes at Molineux was a gamble, but he paid them off as the lads who gave and delivered chances.
How Harvey Elliott, who stunned Liverpool with a match-winner with a 25-yard strike, wanted to go further. In recent months, he has been criticized for something unfair by those who forget that he is only 19.
“Harvey saw something that not a lot of people in the race saw. If I were a goalie, I wouldn’t wait for the shot. It was a top goal,” said Klopp. “I told the boys after the game that’s how it feels when you do well and win. We can’t really remember when that was the last time.
Harvey Elliott Scoring FA Cup bangers
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) on January 17, 2023
On the other side, 20-year-old Fabio Carvalho played as someone with a point to prove an unusual substitute for five consecutive matches.
With Gakpo operating between them, Liverpool were pressing as a much better attacking unit. He was more active than to incite his adversaries to errant force. They also provided more intelligence, reading their moments to close so as not to leave the team open.
But he was in the middle, he was the greatest. Wolves weren’t a big gap to the feat. I saw Liverpool so much more compact. It was a combination of control, protection, and audacity.
Stephan Bajcetic, making his ninth senior appearance for the club, was outstanding in his role. Fabinho’s dip in form means they have looked a problem area for Liverpool all season but they would do much better with the 18-year-old target. Again and again he felt the danger.
Spain’s young international remained calm and under pressure – how the Kop loved the drop on the shoulder that left Joao Moutinho on the turf.
Bajcetic, who was bought from Celta Vigo two years ago for £20,000, made three tackles and two interceptions, winning 63 percent of the duel (five out of eight).
“A good player, very clever in his movements, he did really well,” said Klopp. “He won the challenges and these few steps before blocking the ball, it’s really good. Having Thiago next to him is quite useful as Thiago talks a lot.”
Signed as a centre-back, he was converted to defensive midfield following discussions with academy manager Alex Inglethorpe and under-18s coach Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, who decided his skill set best suited the forward step. It was a painful decision.
Since being included by Klopp on the pre-season tour of Asia, Bajcetic has not looked back. He ran to the ground at Molineux and had to be taken off with 15 minutes to go with a spasm.
Starting Bajcetica against Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday would be a great show of faith, but don’t faze him.
Naby Keita insists that this match will start even more forced after the dynamism that he prepared. He made six tackles (more than anyone on the field), won 57 percent of the duels (eight of 14) and completed 83 percent of his passes.
When the Guinean international works like this, you ask why he was contracted for an extra five months. Then you remember that this was his first start since May and how much time he spends watching from afar.
Thiago certainly benefited from having the pipes of Bajcetic and Keita around him. Spain remained in the international class with 85 percent passing accuracy. He won 70 percent of the duels (seven out of 10) and made two tackles and three interceptions.
In defense, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate excelled, and vice-captain James Milner signed back into the game with a typical display of fighting at right-back after Trent had rested Alexander-Arnold. Then another lively late cameo was made by young winger Ben Doak. The governor had promised a show of combat, and so it proved in all respects.
Liverpool had not kept a clean sheet on home trips since drawing 0-0 at Verton in September.
Darwin Nunez was supposed to be available for Saturday and this was a night when others also made it into contention for that league’s greatest competition. “We’re not in a throwing show, that’s who shows up in training. I am not blind. The door is open to everyone, Klopp said.
The manager consistently maintains the support of the FSG hierarchy. Anxiety in Boston over a miserable league run that has left Liverpool 10 points off the top four is understood to have been offset by the impact of so many injury setbacks.
It will not be a quick change of ownership. No massive late January war chest has been disrupted by Middle Eastern wealth. Klopp has the answer to trigger from within to save Liverpool’s season and this has been a decent start.
(Top photo: Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)