The No.4 shirt has something of a mixed history in the Premier League era at Liverpool.
Not quite as clearly associated with one role as squad numbers like No.9, an eclectic mix of defenders and midfielders have adorned the number four on their back. Nine players have worn the shirt since the English top flight introduced official squad numbers in the 1993-94 season.
We’ve assessed all nine, ranking them from worst to best:
9. Alberto Aquilani
“That was a journalists thing – ‘Liverpool sell Alonso and sign Aquilani to replace him’,” the Italian recalled in a 2020 interview with The Guardian.
“I never saw it that way. Xabi was a great player but I was comfortable with my quality. Also, I was a different player to him – more offensive.”
It’s a fair enough point. But ultimately losing Alonso and gaining Aquilani – who never lived up to his £20million price tag – proved to be the beginning of the end of the Rafael Benitez era at Liverpool.
8. Nuri Sahin
Bit of a weird one.
Sahin thrived at Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund and was named the Bundesliga Player of the Season after their 2010-11 title triumph.
That brilliant season earned him a move to Real Madrid but he suffered badly with injuries and was never fancied by Jose Mourinho. Sahin made just four appearances in his one and only season at the Bernabeu.
A loan move to Liverpool seemed like a good idea to get the Turkey international’s career back on track. But it was a similar story at Anfield, where he had one or two moments but never pushed beyond the periphery and ended up returning to Dortmund in January 2013.
“I can only play at 100 per cent if I’m happy,” Sahin told Ruhr Nachrichten at the time.
“And that was certainly not the case at Real Madrid or Liverpool.”
7. Rigobert Song
Alex Song’s uncle was a relatively low-key signing from Italian side Salernitana back in 1999.
The defender had a legendary international career for Cameroon. He’s now in charge of the Indomitable Lions, having won two Africa Cup of Nations, made 137 appearances (their most-capped player) and represented them in four World Cups as a player.
His club career wasn’t quite so distinguished, although he did lift silverware in France and Turkey.
At Liverpool, he made 38 appearances over a two-year spell, but never quite established himself in the first XI. He does boast a UEFA Cup winners medal, at least, having featured in one game of the memorable 2000-01 campaign.
6. Steve Nicol
If we’re talking a full career, there’s a very strong argument that the Scottish full-back – now something of a star pundit in America on ESPN – should be right at the very top of this list.
Nicol scored 46 goals in 468 appearances for the Reds and represented the club during one of the most successful periods in its history. Between 1983 and 1992, he won four league titles, three FA Cups and the 1984 European Cup – despite missing a penalty in the shootout against Roma.
None of the other players on this list can boast an honours list or legacy quite like that. But if we’re being pedantic and judging the Premier League era only, Nicol – and Liverpool – were on the downslope in the shiny new Sky-backed era.
Officially their No.4 for the 1993-94 campaign, Nicol was past his best as the Reds trudged to an eighth-placed finish – their joint-worst of the past 30 years.
5. Raul Meireles
The former Portugal international was – somewhat mystifyingly– named the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in 2010-11.
That was his one and only season at Anfield. Where he was pretty good, but Liverpool had a year to forget, in which Roy Hodgson suffered a miserable half-season at the helm and they eventually finished an underwhelming sixth.
4. Jason McAteer
The local lad forged his early career at non-league Marine and subsequently Bolton Wanderers before being brought back home in the summer of 1995.
McAteer didn’t win any trophies during his four-year stint at Anfield, finishing runners-up to Manchester United in the 1995 FA Cup, but he made exactly 100 Premier League appearances and was a dedicated and useful club servant.
The versatile midfielder might’ve gone on to achieve more on Merseyside had it not been for a broken leg suffered in 1998.
3. Kolo Toure
The definition of a cult hero, Toure was something of a veteran by the time he arrived at Anfield in 2013 but still had plenty left to give.
He was a part of the side that came so close to winning the Premier League title during his debut season. Admittedly Liverpool conceded 50 goals – the joint-most since 1992 – in that runner-up campaign, but the Ivorian defender was still useful on his day.
Happy birthday, Kolo Toure! 🥳🙌 pic.twitter.com/aNmxA3msax
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 19, 2021
2. Sami Hyypia
Among the most decorated Liverpool players of the modern Premier League era, Hyypia never won a league title but he had an influential part to play in the four trophies the Reds won in 2001 and later added the Champions League, a second FA Cup and second League Cup to his honours list for good measure.
The Finnish defender made 464 appearances over the course of a brilliant 10-year stay. Undoubtedly a Liverpool legend and for a long time the standard-bearer for the No.4 shirt.
1. Virgil van Dijk
Van Dijk’s had his fair share of criticism in 2022-23, much of it deserved, but it should not be forgotten what a colossus he was in his pomp.
A transformative signing who’s won the lot, Van Dijk will surely go down as one of Liverpool’s greatest-ever players – whether he can regain his form or not in the coming years.