Liverpool have spent £39 million so far on three players – England striker Rickie Lambert for £4 million from Southampton, Emre Can for £10 million from Bayer Leverkusen and Adam Lallana for £25 million, also from Southampton.
Manchester United have also brought in three players so far in 17-year-old Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinković for an undisclosed fee from Vojvodina, Spain midfielder Ander Herrera for £29 million from Athletic Bilbao and England full-back Luke Shaw for £27 million from Southampton coming to a grand total of £56 million so far.
Taking youngster Vanja Milinković out of the equation, who has gotten the best value for money, the most quality for the best economy and which players are ultimately the better signings for the Premier League rivals?
Looking at Liverpool first, Rickie Lambert is not a world-class striker but he is a dangerous target man and his presence at Anfield will give manager Brendan Rodgers an alternative option to throw on, likely from the bench, when the current style and system isn’t breaking down the opposition. He certainly could have been useful against Chelsea last season.
There is no way of getting around it, Lambert is not a ‘top top player’ as Sir Alex Ferguson might have said but he is certainly good value for money. There are few players who you could sign for just £4 million who have the capacity to score 14 goals in all competitions, as the 32-year-old did last term.
In the signings of Emre Can and Adam Lallana, Rodgers has bought quality players who bring something new to the squad. Lallana, the most expensive, was one of the most dynamic and exciting attackers in the Premier League last term, he comes with experience at 26 years of age and, unlike Ander Herrera at United, he is already acclimatized to the English game.
Can is 20-years-old and is a player brought in for the future, similarly to United’s signing of Shaw but the Reds’ signing is the more economical – spending £27 million on a left-back – any left-back, never mind an 18-year-old one – is over the top.
Likewise, Adam Lallana is a very elegant player but he has played lower level football for the majority of his career and not set the world on fire. Again, like his former teammate Shaw, he has had two good seasons under at St Mary's in the Premier League, but looked out of his depth at the World Cup.
Ander Herrera looks the best signing of the bunch and I think he is probably just about worth the £29 million fee United have paid. He is possibly one of two or three players in Spain capable of developing to take on the role of Andres Iniesta for Spain in the future and a big move to a club as big as United will only speed up the 24-year-old’s development.
Pound for pound, Manchester United have made the best signing of the bunch but Liverpool have made the better signings overall – the Reds have made some decent astute acquisitions for reasonable prices whilst United have, with respect to Shaw, an overpriced teenager for the price of a ready-made finished-product world-class full-back.
Neither club's spending is done, and expect it to carry on as they look to outdo each other next season and win the biggest prize in English football.