Transfers, Dickheads, Superstars, Egos, Mbappé and Liverpool’s Wise Faith In Konaté

Transfers, Dickheads, Superstars, Egos, Mbappé and Liverpool’s Wise Faith In Konaté
June 27, 2021 Paul Tomkins


One of the few things I find myself having to repeatedly clarify on this site is the “no dickheads” policy that Jürgen Klopp and his staff favour when signing players. 

There are always examples given of players who have made mistakes, or done something problematic, but still they play for Klopp. 

So just to be clear, this is a very specific idea that is not saying a player cannot be a dickhead in your own subjective eyes, but that he is deemed a dickhead by the specific team-building and performance codes the German and the rest of those involved in the process look for. The player could be a lovely guy off the pitch who helps frail old ladies across the road, but he may fail in other areas.

It’s also not about only buying angels. It’s not about casting aside anyone who made a mistake, especially mistakes in the distant past. (Weirdly, we live in a society that is more and more obsessed with mistakes from the past – as social media keeps everything in the “present” – and less and less forgiving of almost everything. I’m not religious at all, but we have lost the positive religious concept – or perhaps just the ancient wisdom – of the power of forgiveness.)

If discounting a player as a dickhead because they went on strike to get a move (as some Liverpool fans felt applied to Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suárez) then that would have meant no Virgil Van Dijk, no Gini Wijnaldum, no Sadio Mané, and various others who used the industry-wide tactic of trying to push through a move to a bigger club. No transfers would ever get completed.

It’s like a 2nd-tier club indignantly screaming that a Premier League club is out of order for tapping-up one of their players, as they then readily tap-up players from League One and League Two. Clubs do that; and players try to push through moves. These are not bad clubs, and players using this tactic are not dickheads (although it’s always better if the result can be achieved more amicably).  

I will talk some more on the specifics of the no-dickhead rule after the paywall kicks in on this in-depth read, and how it might affect some rumoured transfer targets; and then provide examples of how Ibrahima Konaté passes the no-dickheads test with flying colours (and how other Liverpool signings were similar). 

A football squad is a sensitive ecosystem. Or – as it occurred to me initially via a typo – an egosystem. 

The player must fit into the egosystem, as well as doing other things the coaching staff insist upon.   

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