Liverpool’s 13 signings from Ligue 1 since 2000 and how they fared

Quick Reads

Ligue 1 has long been a breeding ground for exceptional talent and Liverpool have not been shy in trying their luck in the market. 

With a World Cup win in 1998 and a Euros success for France kicking off the millennium, Gerard Houllier in particular was eager to reap the rewards of a domestic glow-up on the continent.

But it is safe to say that success has been very mixed for the Reds. We take a look at every player to make the switch from the top-tier in France since 2000…

Fabinho 

The Brazilian is already likely to go down as one of the Reds best signings of all time and he is only just into his third season with the club.

A Champions League in his first campaign was followed by the clubs first Premier League title in his second, and how Klopp’s side have performed during his absence this season speaks volumes of his influence.

Liverpool fans will be praying for some consistent fitness from now on.

Divock Origi

After impressing with Belgium at the 2014 World Cup, Brendan Rodgers brought the striker to Anfield from Lille and he has since firmly secured his status of cult hero, if not club legend.

In his near-seven years at Anfield, Origi has never nailed down a place but his effectiveness from the bench and when injuries strike has been exceptional.

He boasts 35 goals in 157 appearances for the Reds, including three in two games in the 2018-19 Champions League campaign; A brace against Barcelona in one of the greatest comebacks of all time at Anfield, and the second in the final against Spurs. Not bad.

Mamadou Sakho 

The big Frenchman was a fixture at the back for Liverpool for three seasons after he was purchased from PSG, before eventually being shipped out to Crystal Palace.

He made 80 appearances for the Reds in that time, netting three goals, although he certainly was prone to the odd howler at the back.

There were not too many fans left disappointed when Virgil van Dijk came in to replace him in 2017.

David N’Gog

There was a five-year gap between N’Gog’s arrival and Sakho’s although both made the move from PSG.

In his three years with the club, N’Gog struggled to assert himself in the first-team plans of Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson or Kenny Dalglish, but he did contribute a couple of big goals against Manchester United and Arsenal before leaving for Bolton in 2011.

Charles Itandje 

After impressing with Lens across 170 Ligue 1 games, Itandje made the move to Merseyside with Liverpool.

That is about as exciting as this story gets. In three seasons, the shot-stopper made just seven appearances for the Reds, all of which came in cup games in his first campaign.

His time was all but over when he was suspended and forced to apologise for laughing during a Hillsborough memorial ceremony in 2009, never to play a game again. A signing to forget.

Djibril Cisse

The marksman arrived from Auxerre in the summer of 2004 for a whopping £14million (it was whopping at the time, okay), after winning the Ligue 1 golden boot for a second year in a row.

With the Reds, he won the Champions League in his first season, scoring a penalty in the iconic shoot-out against AC Milan.

In his next campaign, he opened the scoring in an equally dramatic FA Cup final against West Ham United, one that Benitez’s men won on penalties.

Despite plenty of injury troubles, he left in 2007 with a lot of love from the red-half of Merseyside.

El-Hadj Diouf 

What a character. The hot-headed Senegal striker arrived at Anfield from Lens in 2002 and his time with the club was… interesting.

Gerard Houlier had hoped that Diouf would help win Liverpool their first Premier League crown following his impressive displays in the 2002 World Cup.

But his strike rate was patchy and things started to quickly unravel after he spat at a Celtic fan in a UEFA Cup clash in 2003. He failed to score for the rest of that season.

The next campaign saw him booked 13 times and sent off once. He was loaned to Bolton in 2004 and that was that.

Salif Diao

Diouf’s compatriot and teammate from that 2002 World Cup campaign moved to Anfield just before the tournament,

But he was often used out of position by Houllier. A midfielder by trade, the Frenchman often utilised him as a centre-back or full-back when cover was needed and the arrival of Xabi Alonso did little to help him.

He left permanently in 2006 with three goals in 61 appearances to his name. At least he left a slightly better impression than his fellow countryman.

Bruno Cheyrou

Houllier dubbed him the “new Zidane” upon his arrival from Lille. So this was only going to end one way.

A spell of four goals in three games in the 2003-04 season offered a glimmer of hope that he could fulfill his potential, but it was not to be.

He was deemed surplus to requirements in the summer of 2004 and joined Marseille on loan, eventually moving permanently to Rennes in 2006.

Patrice Luzi 

Luzi made just one first-team appearance for the Reds after signing from Ajaccio in 2002.

Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland battled for the number one shirt ahead of him, and Luzi’s first-team chances all but came to an end when Paul Jones was brought in from Southampton on loan.

But, in that one appearance, he did keep a clean sheet against Chelsea. So there’s that.

John Arne Riise 

The Norwegian became a Liverpool legend during his seven years at Anfield.

Brought in from Monaco by Gerard Houllier in 2001, Riise went on to make 348 appearances and score 31 goals for the club – most of which broke the net.

He won the UEFA Super Cup on his debut against Bayern Munich and went on to win a further League Cup, Champions League and FA Cup under the Frenchman and then Rafa Benitez.

After losing his place to Fabio Aurelio in the second half of the 2007-08 season, Riise moved on to Roma in the summer.

Nicolas Anelka 

It is often easy to forget the Frenchman’s spell at Anfield, given the impact he had at Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Bolton.

But, after signing for Real Madrid and then returning to PSG, Anelka was sent out on loan to Liverpool in December 2001.

While he helped Houllier’s side finish second in the table with goals against Everton, Fulham, Blackburn and Ipswich, his compatriot opted not to sign him permanently, moving for Diouf instead.

Not Houllier’s wisest moment.

Bernard Diomede

The first Ligue 1 player to move to Liverpool this millennium was the Auxerre winger.

Having scored 30 goals in 176 top-flight appearances in France, hopes were high when Houllier brought him in, but he managed no goals in his three years with the club.

He did have an overhead kick cruelly not given on his debut against Sunderland, however. What could have been!


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