Of all the clubs in England’s top flight to do major business in this summer’s transfer window, the age-old enemies Liverpool and Manchester United produced arguably the most eye-catching transactions.
United and Liverpool's transfer business
United captured the imagination of the masses through the names that signed up to their cause, the Angel Di Marias, Radamel Falcaos and Daley Blinds of the world. Liverpool secured the same effect by the nature of their business, with Luis Suarez leaving for £75 million and no less than nine players arriving to attempt to cushion the consequent blow.
Both sides were locked in a series of sagas over the months leading up to the start of this season’s Premier League campaign and, whilst both were successful in the window to some degree, there were certain players who escaped their respective grasps.
Take United’s unfulfilled desire to land a centre-back capable of leading from the defence for example, or Liverpool’s inability to sign a goalkeeper to give Simon Mignolet the competition he needs to bring the best out of his performances.
Another apparent failing this summer, and one which besets both teams equally, is the fact that Marco Reus was retained by Borussia Dortmund rather than making a highly-anticipated relocation to England. The German international found himself sitting in the same boat as the likes of Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Kevin Strootman and Toni Kroos with regards to the interest in his services, with only the latter ultimately changing clubs.
Reus's decision to stay
Jurgen Klopp’s insistence upon keeping Reus eventually won the day, despite the intentions of Louis van Gaal and Brendan Rodgers, and now it looks as though he will continue to terrorise Bundesliga defences until at least next summer. From there on in however, his future is very much shrouded in mystery.
The latest speculation seems to favour the notion that the 25-year-old could be in line for a departure from the Signal Iduna Park, with negotiations over his new contract having supposedly stalled so that he can wait to see what other clubs have to offer before committing the next five years of his career to Dortmund.
Naturally there’s cause for scepticism concerning the validity of such reports, but the fact remains that Reus’s own ambitions could well be enough to force him to follow in the footsteps of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski in seeking pastures new if it means he will be afforded more opportunity to win silverware.
Klopp’s outfit remain highly-charged and difficult to beat to even the most potent of European rivals, but Bayern Munich’s stronghold over Germany’s top flight has only strengthened over the past year, and the Champions League final appearance in 2013 looks like being the closest Dortmund will come to continental glory in this era at the club.
So if Reus does determine that enough is enough, and throws caution to the wind by looking for fortune elsewhere, few Dortmund fans can truly attest to being surprised. That being said, the main intrigue into his decision will revolve around which club it is he believes can better his future.
With Barcelona now firmly out of the running due to the ban which prevents them from acquiring anyone until 2016, the two sides likely to be fighting for Reus are Liverpool and United.
On the one hand you have the Van Gaal revolution, which promises to be every bit as enthralling and unpredictable moving forward as it has been to date. A virtually blank cheque-book with regards to his weekly wages awaits Reus if he decides that Old Trafford is his favoured option, though one would have to strongly question the sense of such a judgement.
With Van Gaal currently being criticised for his gung-ho style of business in the transfer window, and an approach which has left United critically weak at the back whilst overflowing with world-class talent in their attack, the idea that he will be desperate to land Reus doesn’t compute with the general consensus from the fans.
Prior to the summer’s overhaul he would have waltzed into the United setup but now, with players like Juan Mata and Robin van Persie faced with having to look elsewhere to get minutes on the pitch, there simply isn’t room for a player like Reus.
Then there’s Liverpool, who in my mind represent the more sensible option if the player in question is looking to guarantee himself the opportunities to develop. Coincidentally it was Barcelona’s preference in purchasing Suarez over Reus which is the main reason the German is still available and, though Rodgers had spent lavishly to cover the cracks made evident by the Uruguayan’s Anfield exit, it doesn’t look like he’s done enough.
World-class players are notoriously difficult to come by at the mooted price Reus is going for - he has a release clause of €25 million which comes into effect next year - and he would go some way to restoring the ‘superstar’ feel Liverpool lineups had when Suarez was involved for the Reds.
What’s more, it’s impossible to dispel the myth that Rodgers has transformed the club he inherited back into realistic title contenders.
The perfect blend of promising youth and tried and trusted experience complement the fluid style the Northern Irishman has imposed, and Reus, with his ability to single-handedly change games and obvious talent in the final third of the pitch, would fit in perfectly with the likes of Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge.
If the rumours are true and Reus really is ready to hold out to see what comes his way then United and Liverpool will both be ready to throw the earth at his feet if it means he opts for them. If Reus is looking to develop as a player however, and potentially get what Dortmund can’t offer him, it’s the latter project he needs to be looking to sign up to, not the former.