Liverpool leads Premier League in spending on agents’ fees

Liverpool came from a goal behind to beat Southampton 3-1 and regain its position at the top of the English Premier League.

Despite being frustrated for much of the night, Jurgen Klopp’s side could rely on Mohamed Salah to find a dramatic breakthrough in the 80th minute with the scores level at 1-1.

The Egyptian’s solo effort was his first goal in nine games and last season’s top scorer celebrated breaking his drought by taking off his shirt in front of the delirious away supporters.

The invaluable three points takes the Merseyside outfit two points clear of title rivals Manchester City in second, though Liverpool have played a game more.

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The pressure of trying to secure its first domestic title in 29 years seemed to get the better of Liverpool in the early stages and, despite starting the night just five points from the relegation zone, it was Southampton that took the lead on an atmospheric night at the St Mary’s Stadium.

Striker Shane Long capitalized on some lackluster defending to open the scoring in the ninth minute — securing his 50th English Premier League goal in the process.

Liverpool found an unlikely source for its equalizer before the half-time whistle though.

Naby Keita jumped highest to score his first goal for the club, heading in a wonderful cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold to settle the nerves — albeit amid protests that Salah had strayed offside in the build-up to the goal.

The stage was then set for the Egyptian to strike home his 50th English Premier League goal after a brilliant counter attacking move. Salah picked the ball up in his own half and drove at the retreating defenders before producing a crafted finish past static goalkeeper Angus Gunn.

Substitute Jordan Henderson, who seemed to change the game when he came on, capped off an important night with a third goal in the closing stages.

“I knew it would be difficult. Southampton have been well organized. We scored two wonderful goals,” Liverpool manager Klopp told BBC Sport.

“What a goal [from Salah]. He couldn’t pass because Firmino couldn’t get into the right position. The defender could not concentrate on Mo. Wow, what a goal.”

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Money talks

As Liverpool vies for top spot in the English Premier League, the Merseyside club is the leader of the pack when it comes to payments on player agents’ fees, according to England’s Football Association.

The club paid intermediaries or agents $57.2 million (£43,795,863) between February 2018 and January 2019 — $22 million more than its nearest rival.

Liverpool spent almost double the amount rivals Manchester United forked out and over $30 million more than title rivals Manchester City.

Liverpool’s outlay is a reflection of $226 million recruitment strategy that targeted the acquisition of Brazilians Alisson and Fabinho, Guinea international Naby Keita and Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri ahead of the start of the 2018/2019 season.

During transfers, clubs will employ agents to help facilitate deals. Intermediaries and agents will also represent players.

As most agents’ fees are paid in installments, that $57.2 million sum may also take into account the deals done for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, who joined Liverpool in the 2018 January transfer window, and Salah, who signed for Jurgen Klopp’s team in June 2017.

Liverpool spent $35 million on agents’ fees for the previous period.

In total, the 20 English Premier League clubs spent $340.7 million on such fees last year, eclipsing the 2017/18 record of $275.8 million.

Despite being way off the pace in this season’s title race, Chelsea spent the second-highest amount — $35 million — on agent’s fees, while relegation threatened Burnley paid the least — just over $5 million to intermediaries.

Liverpool host Porto next week in the first-leg of its Champions League quarterfinal before resuming its title bid against Chelsea on Sunday.