Liverpool are one of the biggest clubs in the world and have had some of the biggest stars in Premier League history on their books.
But sometimes, those stars can get too big for their boots and demand to leave, leaving Liverpool to figure out how to replace them.
Those replacements have had mixed success, with some vastly outperforming those they took the place of while others disappeared into obscurity.
But with Sadio Mane on his way out of the Merseyside club, and his replacement already there in the form of Darwin Nunez, we decided to look at eight superstars Liverpool let leave and the players that replaced them.
By ‘replacements’ we’ve used a loose definition, meaning they don’t need to have been brought in exclusively to be direct successors to the stars.
Here are eight big Liverpool names who left the club – and the players who stepped into their shadows.
Georginio Wijnaldum – Thiago
Here’s a perfect example of what we mean by our loose definition of ‘replacement’.
Thiago might have arrived a season before Wijnaldum left on a free for PSG, but the Spaniard has stepped into the Dutchman’s shoes and arguably elevated Liverpool to an even higher level.
Wijnaldum, meanwhile, has not starred in the French capital. He only completed 90 minutes on eight occasions all season, and his plight has culminated in him being dropped by an unapologetic Louis Van Gaal from the Dutch national team.
We say plight, he’s still earning hundreds of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of Euros every week. Our hearts cry out for him.
Philippe Coutinho – Alisson & Virgil van Dijk
We all know the story here.
£120million – still a Premier League record departure – for Coutinho turned into potentially the best goalkeeper and centre-back in the world. What followed was trophies galore and everything an English club can win.
Coutinho… well let’s forget about Barcelona. He’s having fun at Villa, and that’s all that matters.
Raheem Sterling – Christian Benteke & Roberto Firmino
“If you are 17 years of age and you are playing regularly, you would be very foolish not to commit [to a new contract],” Brendan Rogers said when the subject of young Sterling’s contract renewal came up.
“I would think if I am Raheem Sterling and his agents, I would look to tie it up very quickly.”
They didn’t. He wanted more money than they were willing to offer, and City had the funds to throw at both him and Liverpool to make the move happen.
The almost £50million Liverpool earnt was reinvested in Benteke and Firmino and, while the former moved on just a year later to Crystal Palace, the latter formed a vital part of Klopp’s Champions League and title-winning sides.
Luis Suarez – Mario Balotelli
Signing Mario Balotelli (and eight others) to replace Suarez, who at his 2013-14 peak was arguably the Premier League’s greatest-ever striker, was certainly a bold strategy.
Did it work? Well…
Raul Meireles – Jordan Henderson
Listen, we know Meireles doesn’t constitute a star, but he somehow won the PFA Fans Player of the Year during his only season at Anfield, eventually demanding to leave and departing for Chelsea on deadline day.
Hendo had arrived that summer, and whilst it took time for fans to warm to him we think that he might just be more popular than Meireles on Merseyside these days.
Fernando Torres – Luis Suarez & Andy Carroll
“I was injured at the time [of the move] and all I’m thinking is, ‘Please, just fail the medical’. The minute I got on that helicopter I wanted to come back, but I knew it had to happen,” Carroll said of his move to Liverpool.
Luckily he wasn’t the only person stepping into the shoes of Spanish striker Torres, whose departure shattered the hearts of thousands on Merseyside.
Those hearts were soon healed, however. But not by Carroll…
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 24, 2020
Javier Mascherano – Raul Meireles
Towards the end of his time at Liverpool, Mascherano had made it clear he no longer wanted to play for them.
“Mascherano was not in the right frame of mind to play. His head has been turned,” Roy Hodgson said of his soon-to-leave player.
“But he should know that the fee we would want and the fee we have been offered by Barcelona are some distance apart.
“That being the case, it could be that he is unhappy for a long time yet.”
He wasn’t, leaving soon after Hodgson made those comments.
Meireles came in as a replacement, his time at Liverpool ending in a similar manner to Mascherano when he demanded his move to Chelsea.
Xabi Alonso – Alberto Aquilani
No matter how much Alonso loved Liverpool, the pull of Real Madrid was too much for the Spaniard to ignore in 2009.
But it turns out it was… Gareth Barry who pushed him out the door?
“The pursuit of Gareth Barry took some time for me to accept and, in all honesty, it changed the course of my future,” Alonso said.
“Leaving Liverpool was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but after what happened with Barry I knew in my heart I had to tell Rafa that I wanted to go to Madrid when they came knocking at the door.”
What will make that even harder for Liverpool fans to accept is they didn’t even get Barry. They had to settle for Aquilani instead, who was loaned out after just one season and eventually departed having failed to fill Alonso’s shoes.
Bet Barry would have.