The Saudi Pro League’s effect on the English game has played havoc with squad planning and the Merseyside club have felt it more than most

Moises Caicedo in action for Brighton during a pre-season friendly in the United States

Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo looks set to join Chelsea after snubbing Liverpool Credit: Getty Images/Tim Nwachukwu

It may be some time before Liverpool bid £111 million for a player again, although they will surely never take the decision to do so in as short a timeframe as they did this week when their attempt to hijack Moises Caicedo’s long-trailed transfer to Chelsea was launched.

The move ignored most of the usual rules that governed the club’s careful transfer policy that helped build Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League and Premier League winning teams over the last eight years. The disruptive power of the Saudi Pro League’s effect on the English game was the prime mover. With Jordan Henderson – and most crucially Fabinho – gone so abruptly, suddenly Liverpool found themselves under pressure to sign a No 6 and to get the deal done urgently.

When Liverpool began to negotiate with Brighton for Caicedo this week there had been no significant back channel contact with the player or his representatives. It left little room for success but the gamble was considered worth it and the club made all the usual efforts to convince Caicedo and his representatives to negotiate. Even in failure, it did at least have one advantage: the price paid to Brighton by Chelsea will be significantly higher.

Behdad Eghbali, the Clearlake Capital representative in the consortium that owns Chelsea, personally oversaw the completion of the £115 million deal for the 21-year-old over the course of Saturday. Chelsea had got their man and once again they had broken the British transfer record for a midfielder. Liverpool’s late intervention, revealed by Telegraph Sport on Thursday, had ended in failure.

The game waits to see whether Chelsea will also be able to sign Romeo Lavia ahead of Liverpool as well. Liverpool have had three bids rejected for the Southampton midfielder, and it was Chelsea’s £55 million offer for the Belgian that coincided this week with the decision by the Merseyside club to go for Caicedo. It remains to be seen whether Chelsea continue with the Lavia bid now.

This was not how Liverpool had planned it. They began the summer with one key goal: to sign a pair of versatile No 8 midfielders. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai were signed relatively quickly for £35 million and £60 million respectively. Both fees were dictated by the release clauses at their clubs, Brighton and RB Leipzig, which made those deals easier to complete.

Liverpool went up against Manchester United for Mac Allister and won. United turned their focus on Mason Mount, another who had interested Liverpool, who ultimately cost more. Earlier in the year, Liverpool’s long pursuit of Jude Bellingham came to an end when the player made clear that he would be joining Real Madrid over all other suitors. Until the intervention of the Saudi Pro League and the departure of Fabinho in particular, Liverpool had been satisfied with their trading.

Alexis Mac Allister warms up ahead of Liverpool's Premier League match against Chelsea

Liverpool moved quick to snap up Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton for just £35 million Credit: Getty Images/Henry Nicholls

Now they find themselves forced to make decisions as swiftly as possible on deals bigger than ever before. There has been much change in the club’s recruitment department in the last two years with the architect of Klopp’s most successful teams, Michael Edwards, having departed and his anointed successor as technical director Julian Ward leaving just 12 months later. Others within the department have gone too. The most recent incumbent, Jorg Schmadtke, has been thrust in at a time when the club have been forced out of their usual rhythm.

In their most successful years, Liverpool pursued their targets much more leisurely and often – in the case of Virgil van Dijk – came back in a subsequent window to close the deal. The Saudi deals have offered the chance to earn fees on players that were never projected to do so – but they have also played havoc with squad planning.

“Do we go for quantity or quality?” Klopp asked rhetorically on Friday. “The only chance we really had was to go for quality and then we have to stretch things.” With the recent departures, much more responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott and crucially that No 6 role will have to be filled. Their squad should have been all but complete by now, although as the last few weeks have demonstrated – nothing is certain.