Liverpool get £10m transfer boost as behind-closed-doors friendlies plan emerges

Stefan Bajcetic pictured with new Liverpool head coach Arne Slot, will have learned a lot from Thiago Alcantara, whose departure has saved the club £200,000 per week
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Arne Slot is now nearly a week into his pre-season schedule at Liverpool and the players are being whipped into shape.

This week will bring the return of Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo to a group that already contained the likes of Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Caoimhin Kelleher and Kostas Tsimikas.

As ever, the ECHO brings you all the latest off-diary titbits in the Liverpool FC Notebook.

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Liverpool set for £10m savings

The outpouring of tributes in the comments section of Thiago Alcantara's Instagram account revealed all about the reverence he was held in at Liverpool.

From Darwin Nunez, Alexis Mac Allister and Jordan Henderson, team-mates past and present made sure to send a message of congratulations on what has been one of the most decorated careers of the 21st century, with close to 30 major honours lift for Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the Reds, as well as the Spain national side.

Stefan Bajcetic, in particular, left a note of how he will no longer be able to pick up tips from his more experienced compatriot and Thiago was understood to be an influential figure behind the scenes, even if his lack of availability made a new contract a non-starter.

The 33-year-old may have contributed just five minutes of the campaign last time out - as a late substitute in a 3-1 loss at Arsenal - but supporters may eventually look towards the brighter days when they remember the classy midfielder's time with the club in the future, particularly the second half of the 2021/22 campaign as Jurgen Klopp's side went closer than anyone before them to winning a quadruple. They had to 'settle' for two domestic cups, 92 Premier League points and a Champions League runners-up medal.

For all the tributes and plaudits that will deservedly laid at the feet of Thiago, there was a cold, business-like decision to Liverpool's call to steer clear of a new deal and given the player's injuries struggles - his most recent start came in February 2023 and he has played just five minutes in over a year - there is also some economic benefits for the club.

Thiago was one of the highest earners in the Liverpool squad at around £200,000 a week, with only Mohamed Salah and club captain Virgil van Dijk believed to be earning more than the 33-year-old. With that sort of weekly outlay now off the books alongside Joel Matip's specifics, the Reds have plenty of wiggle room on the wage bill when it comes to this summer's transfer targets. Around £10m will be saved on yearly wages alone.

Alexander-Arnold's Football For Change releases £300,000 to local initiatives

Football For Change, the social mobility and charitable initiative that Trent Alexander-Arnold helped launch, has released over £300,000 in grants for its first round of 2024 funding.

Alexander-Arnold has helped the charity grow alongside Jamie Carragher, Conor Coady and public relations executive Dan Hughes since 2021 and 16 recipients from the Liverpool City Region and the Greater Manchester Area have now all benefitted from funds raised.

Academies, sports clubs and youth community centres in areas like Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens and Liverpool have all been given grants and Reds vice-captain Alexander-Arnold says Football For Change is sticking to its mission statement of helping communities across the North West.

“Football For Change is about helping young people onto a positive path," Alexander-Arnols said. "It is footballers and business leaders coming together with a goal to help improve the life chances and opportunities of young people from some of the most challenged communities in the country. It is a brilliant initiative and is needed now more than ever."

Describing it as a "major moment", Carragher added: “This new round of funding will help continue to make a positive impact and change the lives of young people facing barriers to achieving their potential.

"This is another major moment for Football For Change and shows the power of footballers and business leaders coming together to provide opportunities to those who need a bit of help in life."

FFC has raised around £1.1m since 2021.

Behind-closed-doors friendlies

It's expected that Liverpool will play a couple of friendlies behind closed doors at the AXA Training Centre before flying out to the United States later this month.

The Reds have typically tended to fly to a European destination for a summer training camp in recent years with places like Saalfelden in Austria and Evian-les-Bains on the French-Switzerland border favoured by Klopp and his staff.

However, no such trip has been arranged so far with Liverpool being in the process of recruiting for Ray Haughan's replacement as manager of first-team operations in recent weeks before Phil Holliday's appointment.

As a result, it looks like Slot will take charge of his new squad in the privacy of the club's Kirkby training base before getting them Stateside.

The opponents could be be North-West based with the Reds entertaining Blackburn Rovers at Anfield before the Premier League resumed in similar circumstances back in the summer of 2020. A 6-0 win was a fine tune-up for the return of the competitive action.