Benitez’s 10 most expensive Liverpool sales & how they fared after leaving
Liverpool developed into one of the best teams in Europe under Rafa Benitez, meaning most players weren’t exactly desperate to leave.
There were a couple of exceptions, and Benitez also had to balance the books by selling some of his squad players during his six years in charge.
We’ve looked at the 10 most expensive outgoings during Benitez’s time at Liverpool to see how they fared after leaving the club.
10. John Arne Riise – £4m
Riise became a cult hero during his seven years at Anfield, mainly due to his knack for absolute thunderbastards.
The left-back lost his place to Fabio Aurelio and joined Italian side Roma in 2008 but returned to England with Fulham three years later.
He then had spells in Cyprus and India before finishing his playing career back in Norway with fourth division side SK Rollon.
9. Mark Gonzalez – £5m
Gonzalez was originally signed from Albacete in October 2005 but issues gaining a work permit meant that he spent the 2005-06 season on loan in Spain.
The Chile international failed to make an impact in the Premier League and left for Real Betis after just one season in England.
After spending five years at CSKA Moscow, he returned to South America in 2014 and announced his retirement in November 2019.
8. Djibril Cisse – £6m
After spending the 2006-07 season on loan at Marseille, Cisse joined the French side on a permanent deal in 2007.
But the journeyman left Marseille two years later and later had spells in Greece, Italy, England, Qatar, Russia and Switzerland.
He decided to hang up his boots in 2017 but recently confirmed that he wants to come out of retirement and finish what he started in Ligue 1.
“You know how it is with goalscorers,” Cisse told So Foot in May 2020.
“We love goals, we love hitting milestones; 25, 50, 75… for me, it’s the landmark of 100 that haunts me, I’ve been stuck on 96 since I stopped.
“I am missing four goals and it gets to me, it drives me crazy! I want to come back to Ligue 1 to get them. If a club takes me, I can get them in two or three months.
“I’m ready to come back and play for free, without pay, so there isn’t much of a risk for them. For the moment, I’m not in advanced talks with anybody but I hope that clubs will appear.”
7. Milan Baros – £6.5m
Just months after helping Liverpool beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, Baros was sold to Aston Villa.
He later had spells with Lyon, Portsmouth and Galatasaray, and he is currently back playing in his native country with Banik Ostrava in the Czech Liga.
6. Craig Bellamy – £7.5m
Bellamy was deemed surplus to requirements by Benitez following Fernando Torres’ arrival in 2007 and joined West Ham United a few days later.
He made just 26 appearances for the Hammers before moving to Manchester City for £14million in January 2009.
The Welshman returned to Anfield for a brief spell under Kenny Dalglish in the 2011-12 season and then spent the last two years of his playing career at hometown club Cardiff City.
5. Michael Owen – £8m + Antonio Nunez
Owen never played a competitive game under Benitez and signed for Real Madrid a few weeks after his arrival in 2004.
The striker left Spain after just a year, having scored 16 goals in 45 games, and returned to England with Newcastle United.
His time in the North East was blighted by several injury problems, and he joined Liverpool’s arch-rivals Manchester United before retiring at Stoke City.
“I wished things had been different and I had come back to Liverpool and lived happily ever after,” Owen told the Independent in 2019. “But I would still sign for Man United because that was the best option at the time.
“I’m not ashamed of what I did despite people wanting me to be ashamed. It was never my dream to play for Stoke, Man United or Newcastle but that’s where my career took me.”
— TheKop.com (@TheKop_com) May 12, 2020
4. Mohamed Sissoko – £8.2m
Javier Mascherano’s form saw Sissoko fall down the pecking order at Liverpool and the midfielder signed for Juventus in January 2008.
After leaving Turin in 2011, he enjoyed something of a nomadic career, turning out for the likes of PSG, Fiorentina, Levante and Shanghai Shenhua.
The ex-Mali international played in the French second-tier for Sochaux last season and announced his retirement in January 2020.
3. Peter Crouch – £11m
Crouch was a popular figure at Liverpool, but the big-money arrival of Fernando Torres in 2007 meant that the England international found playing time increasingly hard to come by.
The striker left Anfield in 2008, spending a season at Portsmouth before joining Tottenham, where he once more played Champions League football.
After leaving Spurs in 2011, he spent seven-and-a-half years at Stoke City and retired after a brief spell at Burnley.
2. Robbie Keane – £19m
Keane joined LIverpool from Tottenham for £19million in 2008, only to be sold back to his club six months later.
“Rafa is a top manager and he’s proven that. I’ve certainly never said a bad word about him as a manager, I thought he was top,” Keane told Sky Sports in April 2020.
“I think he was the wrong manager at the wrong time for me. Before that I played at Tottenham, free-flowing football, different managers. We played attacking football.
His second spell at White Hart Lane wasn’t as successful as his first, and he spent time on loan at Celtic and West Ham United.
The 39-year-old then played for LA Galaxy and ATK before hanging up his boots in 2018.
1. Xabi Alonso – £30m
Alonso was one of Liverpool’s most influential players during Benitez’s reign and fans were devastated when he moved to Real Madrid in 2009.
The Spaniard continued to excel and won a La Liga title, the Champions League and two Copa del Reys during his five years at Madrid.
He then added to his already well-stocked trophy cabinet when he joined Bayern Munich in 2014, helping the Bavarians to secure three consecutive Bundesliga titles before retiring in 2017.