Premier League's PSR loophole may help Liverpool most as £20m deal struck

-Credit: (Image: Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)

As Profit and Sustainability Rules continue to loom large over the transfer window, a number of Premier League clubs are showing their ingenuity in spades.

The period where clubs are permitted to conclude player trading deals has now become full to the brim with terms like "PSR compliant", "mutually beneficial deal" and, most nauseating of all, "pure profit" - a phrase which no football supporter should really know the meaning of.

Instead, the term has now entered the general football lexicon as readily as tactical turns of phrase and, in many ways, the concept - which was designed to aid the progress of academy graduates into first-team football - has become so warped that it's now used at its most cynical as ways of manoeuvring through the rules and regulations that, while admittedly flawed, are set up to keep clubs straying too close to financial meltdown.

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Chelsea's £20m move for Aston Villa's Omari Kellyman is a clear example of how clubs with PSR issues are working in tandem to circumvent the regulations that have come under fire from several angles across a lot of the last year.

Kellyman has made two Premier League appearances that have totalled 35 minutes and has a current market valuation of £850,000 according to influential website Transfermarkt.

Chelsea, a club who have largely squandered £1billion since Todd Boehly and his Clearlake Capital consortium bought the club in mid-2022, are now preparing to pay nearly 25 times Kellyman's market value, if reports are to be believed. He may very well be a player with ample potential but the deal is exorbitant based on his current level of experience.

That figure will be paid over a five-year contract - a process known as amortisation - but the fee is immediately processed on to the selling club's books, thus helping considerably with their PSR calculations. Villa's £35m to send to left-back Ian Maatsen the other way could very much be seen in the same vein, even if the defender has just come off an excellent campaign with Borussia Dortmund, where they were beaten finalists in the Champions League to Real Madrid.

Everton's £9m move for Tim Iroegbunam - a player whose Transfermarkt valuation deems to be worth £3.3m - could also be seen as from the same school, particularly given the midfielder joins from PSR-haunted Aston Villa and signs for a Blues side who have become the most high-profile casualty of rules that must be termed controversial, despite Premier League clubs having agreed to them years ago.

Lewis Dobbin's switch the other way aids Everton's cause too on the PSR front and while the deals can be criticised in their spirit, no rules are being broken or bent where PSR stands.

For Liverpool, they will take a watching brief, in the same way they did in the January transfer window that was notably more sober than the previous summer's period of trading.

With clubs seemingly spooked by the severity of Everton's points deduction - which stood at a whopping 10 at the time - the biggest deal of the winter window saw Tottenham bring in Radu Dragusin for around £21m from Genoa, which would barely have made the top 50 the previous summer.

For Liverpool's new-look setup - sporting director Richard Hughes, head coach Arne Slot and FSG's 'CEO of football Michael Edwards - however, the inflation of fees across the league will only embolden them in their efforts to extract full value for wantaway players.

The £20m being asked for Sepp van den Berg has been criticised by the Dutch defender himself, fearing he is being priced out of a permanent move away from Merseyside but after an impressive season in the Bundesliga with Mainz, Liverpool will feel they are justified in their demands.

Tyler Morton's situation is another that intrigues. The midfielder enjoyed a successful campaign on loan at Hull City after becoming a key member of the Blackburn Rovers team the previous season and Bundesliga side RB Leipzig are showing an interest as a result.

If players like Kellyman are being purchased for £20m with 35 minutes of senior football to their name, Morton should theoretically command a sizable fee if it is decided that he is free to pursue a career away from Anfield.

Ireland international Caoimhin Kelleher played 26 times for the Reds last term, including a successful Carabao Cup campaign that ended with a clean sheet in the final at Wembley, so the thought of offloading the goalkeeper at a knockdown rate will be the furthest prospect from Liverpool minds, particularly Edwards, whose ability to extract maximum value at the negotiating table has become the stuff of legend among the club's fanbase.