In their halcyon days of the 1970s and '80s, Liverpool were masters in the transfer market. Not every signing worked out, but those that didn't were few and far between, and when they spent big they invariably spent well. They had an uncanny eye for a bargain, too.
Somewhere along the way, they lost their touch. The league titles subsequently dried up, and the Reds became more of a cup team, throwing good money after bad and continually trying to make up for mistakes various managers had made in the market.
There were still some great signings of course, but the bad has too often outweighed the good. You can't win like that. Unlike some of their rivals, Liverpool's margin for error is not great enough to overcome too many mistakes in the transfer market, which is why supporters are so encouraged by what their club has done in the past couple of years.
Whisper it, but Liverpool are pretty good at transfers these days.
It's been a long time since you could say that, but the evidence is conclusive. Jurgen Klopp can not only spot a player, he can also convince them to move to Merseyside, even when they have their pick of other top clubs. It's been 30 years since the Reds were in this strong a position.
Spending well and winning titles are inextricably linked, and that's why Liverpool have continually fallen short. On the few occasions they've gone close, it was fuelled by a brief period of successful signings, but they were never able to sustain it. Either key players left and were not adequately replaced, or the signings made to take that final step were just not up to the required standard.
The club are enjoying their best run of transfers in decades, and that is reflected in performances on the pitch. The side that dazzled their way to the Champions League final last season has been bolstered with Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri. Coaching ability and man management is important too, but unless a manager is buying the right players, he won't achieve much irrespective of any other qualities he may have. Klopp ticks every box.
Much has been made of Liverpool's big spending this year, but this is not a Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain situation. Most of the funds that have been made available to Klopp are from the £140 million sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January, or via sporting director Michael Edwards rinsing millions out of other clubs for Liverpool's castoffs.
The unassuming Edwards likes to remain in the background. He does not court publicity or praise, yet recently he has been getting both due to Liverpool's dramatic improvement in the market. Let's not forget, though, that Edwards was at the club long before Klopp and was involved in some, shall we say, less than stellar big-money signings.
That isn't meant to diminish the role he's playing now, but it's clear that Klopp's presence is key to everything. He makes everyone around him look better, and Edwards is benefitting as much as anyone. Klopp is the glue that holds everything together, and his importance cannot be overstated. He is far more important to Liverpool than any other top-six manager is to their respective clubs. The owners know this, which is why they handed him a new six-year contract less than a year into the job.
Klopp is unquestionably the reason for Liverpool's newfound pulling power, but credit where it's due, Edwards has done his bit in getting deals over the line for the players identified by the manager, and he's proving to be a whiz at getting good money for unwanted players.
Only last week Liverpool sold Danny Ward (a 25-year-old with just three appearances for the club to his name) to Leicester City for £12.5m. That's becoming the norm now. Brad Smith and Jordon Ibe were sold to Bournemouth for in excess of £20m, which is actually remarkable looking back on it.
Liverpool's sudden transformation into transfer market wizards is best summed up though by the deal that saw Andy Robertson arrive in what was almost a straight swap with Hull City for Kevin Stewart. Edwards should have been wearing a highwayman's mask when he pulled off that act of daylight robbery.
In the three years since Klopp has been in charge, Liverpool have spent roughly £120m more than they have brought in, although the incomings column is about to be swelled further as Edwards fields offers for several unwanted first-team squad members.
Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Lazar Markovic, Sheyi Ojo, Marko Grujic and Pedro Chirivella are all expected to leave before the window shuts. Potentially, that could bring in another £80m or so, reducing Klopp's net spend to roughly £40m across three years. That's astonishing when you look at the vast array of talent he has assembled.
The Reds reportedly want £27m for Origi, which seems a little ambitious and also a bit random. Presumably they based it on his shirt number, because it certainly can't be on his performances.
Getting that kind of fee for Origi would be fantastic business given the way his career has stalled in recent seasons. Since impressing as a teenager at the 2014 World Cup, the Belgian's resume includes a failed loan spell at Wolfsburg and being named in L'Equipe's "Ligue 1 worst team of the year" in 2015.
Whereas Daniel Sturridge has come back this preseason determined to show he still has a part to play this year, Origi looks to have given up the ghost completely. Valencia are rumoured to be interested, so perhaps Edwards can work his magic again.
Ordinarily, Liverpool would not have the spending power of the two Manchester clubs or Chelsea (at least before Roman Abramovic tightened the purse strings on them) and the truth is they still don't. But by spending what they do have wisely and driving a hard bargain on sales, they have put themselves in position to now go for players who would have previously been out of reach.
Everything is in place for them to mount a sustained challenge for the title, but if they do come up short again, at least this time it shouldn't all fall down like a house of cards as it has done previously. Not as long as Klopp is there anyway.