Let me start by giving you the five best Liverpool signings in history, as I see it. I am not going to mention any of the players in the current squad, though, although players like Joël Matip, Roberto Firmino and Phillipe Coutinho could have been named as one of the best ever signings.
Ron Yeats was signed by Bill Shankly when Liverpool was a second division side, and Shankly had just become the new Liverpool manager. Yeats was signed from Dundee United for £20.000 in 1961, and was immediately installed as the club’s captain. He was a force in Liverpool defence for ten good years, first gaining promotion to the first division in 1962, then he would be the first Liverpool captain to lift the league trophy since we had last won the league title in 1947. He did that in 1964. In 1965 he was part of the Liverpool team that reached the semi-finals of the European Cup; that season he also became the very first Liverpool captain to lift the F.A. Cup. In 1966, Yeats and his team mates once again won the league title, and also reached the final of the European Cup-winners Cup, losing 1-2 to Borussia Dortmund at Hamden Park in Glasgow. His last season ended with a game at Wembley, but Liverpool were defeated by Arsenal in the F.A. Cup final. Ron Yeats – The Colossus was, alongside Ian St John seen by Shankly as the most important signings made by him when Liverpool were built up to a winning team again.
Kenny Dalglish was signed by Bob Paisley for a then record fee for a British player – £440.000 – soon after Kevin Keegan had moved on to Hamburger Sportverein, and was an instant success. He played all the 42 league games in his first season, scoring 20 goals and winning the league title in 1978, and also the European Cup – beating Club Bruges 1-0 at Wembley, with Dalglish scoring the winning goal. In1979, Liverpool once again won the league ttle but lost the F.A. Cup final to Manchester United after a replay at Goodison Park, Dalglish scored 21 league goals. 1980: another league title. Dalglish scoring 16 league goals, the top scorer being David Johnson with 21 goals. In 1981, we ended up as fifth in the league, Aston Villa winning the title, but we won the European Cup beating Real Madrid, Dalglish being substituted off for Jimmy Case after 60 minutes, meaning Liverpool without the big star on the pitch could create a lot more goal opportunities than they did with a man-marked Dalglish on the pitch. Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool won the league title in 1982, 1983 and 1984, when we also won another European Cup trophy, beating AS Roma on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra time. 1985: Liverpool ended second in the league just behind Everton, and then: BOOM! Heysel.
At that point King Kenny became Liverpool’s player manager, and and won the League and F.A Cup double. In 1988 and 1990, Liverpool won the two last league titles of the club thus far under Kenny Dalglish’s leadership, and we also won the F.A Cup in 1989 after the Hillsborough tragedy.
John Barnes was signed from Watford by Kenny Dalglish in June 1987 for a £900.000 fee – a real bargain for the club. John Barnes must be the very best left winger Liverpool has ever had, and we have had some great left wingers; Steve Heighway, Ray Kennedy, David Fairclough and by now Philippe Coutinho to name just a few. In his first season, John Barnes won the league title and also reached the F.A. Cup final in which Wimbledon shocked both England and the world by defeating us at Wembley. In didn’t end there, though. John Barnes played in the side that won the 1989 F.A. Cup final against Everton, and then won the league title once again in 1990. After that, we have never won the title, but John Barnes remained one of our best players until he left Liverpool for Newcastle on a free transfer in 1997, having played 407 games and scored 108 goals for us. He won four major trophies while he was a Liverpool player.
Glenn Hysén was signed by Kenny Dalglish from Fiorentina in 1989. Hysén snubbed Manchester United for a move to Liverpool, meaning Alex Ferguson had to sign Gary Pallister as his second most wanted centre back instead of him. Alongside veteran club captain Alan Hansen and, in Alan Hansen’s injury period, the young defender Gary Ablett, Hysén was a major part of Liverpool’s success in the league championship in 1990, when we eventually sealed our 18th top division title by a margin of nine points.
Ronny Rosenthal was also a great signing I will never forget. I knew a lot about John Barnes before he joined Liverpool, but Rosenthal was totally unknown when he joined Liverpool on a loan deal in January 1990 from Standard Liége. He scored lots of goals in that first season and played a very important role in winning the league title. After that he was signed on a permanent deal, but he is more likely remembered the best for what he did in his first four months in Liverpool, and that was just amazing for all fans to watch.
Now for some of the worst signings we have made
Paul Stewart was signed for a £2.3 million by Greame Souness in 1992. This striker managed to score 3 goals in 42 games for Liverpool before he was signed by Sunderland, where he failed to do any better.
Graeme Souness also signed the Hungarian attacking midfielder Istvan Kozma in 1992. He only played six games for Liverpool that one season he was in England. One might wonder what made Greame Souness want to bring him in at all.
Norwegian centre back Frode Kippe had been playing well for Lillestrøm in Norway, and was signed by Liverpool in 1998. In the 1999-2000 season, Frode Kippe made one League Cup appearance for Liverpool. He had loan spells in Stoke City from 1999 – 2001, and made 44 appearanced for the second division side. His Liverpool career total was two appearances when he rejoined Lillestrøm in 2002. What a waste.
Alberto Aquilani was signed from AS Roma for £17 million in 2009. Rafa Benitez dubbed him a world class midfielder who was worth every penny. His statistics at Liverpool tells quite a different tale. From 2009 – 2012, Aquilani made a total of 18 Liverpool appearances, scoring just a single goal. Which world class midfielder were Benitez talking about? Someone else?
The Hungarian goalkeeper Adam Bogdan was signed from Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer in 2015, but has only made 6 Liverpool appearances, two games in the Premier League. He is now at Wigan on a loan deal and will no doubt be off-loaded in the spring of 2017. Just another Kippe story one might say: good enough for lower league teams, but not for a Premier League team, so I wonder why would we sign him in the first place?
Written by @MagneLeoKarlsen