In romantic comedies, the main character always manages to take the object of his or her affection away from their undeserving significant other and the two live happily ever after. But story lines that fit this arc rarely exist in the messy realities of the transfer market.
West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke did his best to squash the speculation and told Chris Lepkowski of The Birmingham Mail:
Liverpool need a striker, Shane is playing well so a lazy journalist puts it together and makes a story out of it. Shane is not for sale. And I’d be very surprised if Brendan Rodgers wanted to take Shane anyway. People are merely looking at connections and making stories out of it.
The wants and needs of richer clubs are the source of many transfer rumors, and while hearsay around this time of year often has weak or no ties to actual facts and real information, some proposed scenarios will come true.
When a smaller club has an impressive talent, a larger club will inevitably be interested in signing that player. But in this particular case, there are multiple factors that make Long leaving the Hawthorns highly unlikely.
Even the rumors proposing the Irish striker’s £12 million move to Anfield show a certain amount of reserve, and The Daily Mail’s Joe Ridge admitted, “West Brom do not want or need to sell Long.”
The Baggies have been remarkably successful this season, and Long has been a key component in their campaign. The 25-year-old has five goals and four assists in Premier League matches and leads his team in both categories, although Romelu Lukaku also has five EPL goals.
After 15 games, West Brom sits fifth in the table, but is tied in points with third-place Chelsea and fourth-place Tottenham. European qualification is well within the Baggies’ grasp.
Ridge notes that the only motivation for the Baggies to let Long leave is that “they would be tempted by a £12m bid for a man they paid £6.5m for in August 2011.” But finishing in the top-seven would be more lucrative for the club than any profit they would make off selling their star striker.
Without any clear reason for West Brom to sell Long, Liverpool would have to make a monster bid for the Irishman to pry him away. They may even have to exceed the rumored £12 million price tag.
While the Reds certainly need a striker to help take pressure off of Luis Suarez, overpaying for Long in January would not be the right move.
Rodgers has made it clear that he is not the type of manager to make rash decisions in the transfer market, and there will be too many factors keeping him from attempting to sign Long.
While the West Brom centre-forward would certainly improve the Reds attack, he will still be wearing stripes until, at least, the summer.