Ranking Liverpool’s 29 weirdest signings of the Premier League era
As one of the few ever-present teams in the Premier League since 1992, Liverpool have had plenty of time to make their mark in the transfer market.
At the same time, they have had a fair few opportunities to make purchases which are, for one reason or another, bizarre.
They have made some ill-judged signings, like paying £35million for Andy Carroll, but that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to rank their signings in order of weirdness and nothing else.
29. Oussama Assaidi
In 2011, Liverpool pulled off a real coup by signing Luis Suarez from the Eredivisie, and for some reason decided signing a cheaper, less proven player from the same division would work just as well.
It says a lot about Assaidi that he came closer than many to putting the Reds on their way to the title – but did so by scoring against Chelsea while on loan at Stoke City in 2013-14.
His five goals for Stoke represented five more than he managed at Anfield.
28. Fabio Borini
When Brendan Rodgers took over at Liverpool, there was talk of a gentleman’s agreement preventing him from signing any players from his former club Swansea, so he must have considered himself a genius when he figured out Italian forward Borini – who was only on loan in Wales – didn’t count.
Of course, Rodgers then went on to sign Joe Allen in the same window anyway. Borini would gradually drop deeper and deeper before ending up at full-back for Milan.
Liverpool signing a goalkeeper best known in England for conceding seven goals at Old Trafford is bold to say the least, but the Merseysiders got around any issues by simply deciding not to play the Brazilian after recruiting him from Roma in 2011.
He managed four games for the Reds in two years, failing to return to the Brazil squad after sitting on the bench during the 2010 World Cup and adding his name to the long list of keepers who saw their careers stall when they really should have known better.
26. Jean-Michel Ferri
Did Gerard Houllier just want some Francophone company after joining Liverpool as joint-manager in 1998? He certainly didn’t expect to use Ferri – fresh from an eight-game spell in Turkey – as a footballer.
Most notable for sounding like someone sneezing while saying the name of a Fulham midfielder, Ferri managed a whopping 50 minutes across two substitute appearances.
47 mesmerising minutes in a Liverpool shirt. 0 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses. A snip at £1.7million. It's Jean Michel-Ferri! pic.twitter.com/ycYHbDGu
— 90s Footballers (@90sFootballers) July 16, 2012
25. Gary McAllister
Yes, this one worked out just fine, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t weird. McAllister was already 35 when he signed on a free from a Coventry City side fresh from a 14th-place finish in the Premier League.
So yes, he might have played a big role in the 2001 UEFA Cup win and scored a memorable Merseyside Derby goal, but it’s weird that he was even given the chance.
24. Daniel Sjolund
£1m for a teenager was a lot in 2000. It was certainly a lot for a teenager yet to make his Premier League debut, but Sjolund was sort of a proto-Odegaard who had featured as a 15-year-old for IFK Mariehamn before joining West Ham.
On the scale of false starts, it worked slightly less well than the signing of Jordon Ibe, which… well, yeah.
23. Milan Jovanovic
How many players can you name who are more famous for being namedropped in Neighbours than for any of their actual football?
Just one, we bet.
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) April 18, 2017
22. Mark Gonzalez
If you’re buying wine, a Chilean-South African combo sounds like it might have decent pedigree. If you’re buying a footballer, the same rules don’t apply.
Perhaps Liverpool should have taken Gonzalez’s two failed work permit applications as a sign. His 36th and final performance for the club came as part of a line-up so understrength it led Neil Warnock to hold an 11-year grudge against Rafa Benitez.
When Neil Warnock – Neil Warnock! – thinks you’re so bad you give the other team an unfair advantage by playing, it’s probably not a good sign.
21. Abel Xavier
Players who cross divides and move from one fierce rival to another often go down in history as pariahs. Luis Figo certainly did, as did Mo Johnston, but Abel Xavier is an unlikely name to complete the trinity.
The Portuguese defender made a cut-price switch from the Blue half of Merseyside as his Everton contract ran down in 2002, but… why? Were those 21 games in red really worth it?
20. Patrice Luzi
Liverpool have a habit of signing an extra goalkeeper ‘just to make sure they don’t run out’, and Luzi is a prime example. Liverpool already had three keepers on their books when Luzi arrived in 2002, including two – Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland – who had only arrived 12 months prior.
He played one game. One. Uno. Un. Ein. Thirteen minutes, to be precise. They did at least win that game, away at Chelsea, which makes us wonder whether he was signed purely to test the concept of nominative determinism.
19. Sean Dundee
Has more computer game endorsements than Liverpool goals, and more nationalities than computer game endorsements.
The South African-born striker declared for Germany but never earned a cap for the national side, in what is now known as ‘doing a Grealish’.
18. Rickie Lambert
The summer of 2014 saw Liverpool in a stronger bargaining position than they had enjoyed in most of the 21st century after that point, with a second-place finish under their belt and £75million from the sale of Suarez burning a hole in their back pocket.
Someone should have told Brendan Rodgers he didn’t need to restrict his outlay to ‘players born in Liverpool’. As good as Lambert was for Southampton, it was weird that Liverpool didn’t aim higher, and even weirder that they managed to turn a profit on the striker after a three-goal season.
17. Charlie Adam
Yes, that Charlie Adam. It says a lot that an obviously fake Craig Bellamy story about Adam at Liverpool is still so believable.
Craig Bellamy on Charlie Adam. pic.twitter.com/ew7y2YZBuk
— Football Quotes (@FootballQuote_) April 6, 2014
16. Istvan Kozma
Yes, transfer dealings in the early 1990s were different to those we see now, but it’s rare that anyone described as a ‘27-year-old Dunfermline midfielder’ will be a Premier League hit.
Some signings can be put down to bad luck when they don’t go to plan. This was not one of those signings.
15. Andy Lonergan
We’re just gutted he was never given a runout, like Scott Carson at City. Where’s your sense of fun, Jurgen?
14. Pegguy Arphexad
Remember when I mentioned Luzi being one of four keepers at Liverpool in 2002? Arphexad was the fourth.
You might think we should look with suspicion at a man continuing to wear joggers on a Premier League football pitch in the 21st century and, you know what, you’re right.
Gutted! This reminds me of when Pegguy Arphexad left for Coventry.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) December 2, 2015
13. Brad Jones
We’re just learning that Brad Jones played 27 games for Liverpool. Twenty-seven games. If you needed one stat to sum up the club’s wilderness years between 2010 and 2013, that’s the one.
12. Sebastian Leto
When you sign a player it probably helps for him to be legally permitted to play football in your country.
11. Adam Bogdan
The Hungarian goalkeeper remained on Liverpool’s books until 2019. Yeah, we’re surprised too.
10. Alex Manninger
If Manninger was signed purely to brute-force Bogdan into leaving then it at least makes some sense, but the man was 39 when he signed.
A member of Arsenal’s 1998 title winners staying in the Premier League later than every man who played league minutes in the Invincibles season is genuinely impressive, even if he was just there as a glorified mannequin.
Feel for Wijnaldum that the day he signed for Liverpool will forever be overshadowed by the signing of Alex Manninger on the same day.
— Josh Merluk (@JoshMerluk) July 22, 2016
9. Mauricio Pellegrino
The more we look at Liverpool’s 2004-05 season, the more their Champions League victory confuses us. Two of the three January signings were ineligible in the competition, and the third was Scott Carson.
Pellegrino arrived from Valencia in Operation Sign Rafa’s Mates and was already 34, making him simultaneously a part of Operation Make Fernando Morientes Seem Young. He played 13 games.
8. Antonio Nunez
You know when you spend loads of time on your Secret Santa present for a colleague, only for them to give you something that’s been gathering dust in their attic for months if not years?
When Liverpool sold Michael Owen to Real Madrid, the man they got in part-exchange was Antonio Nunez, a 25-year-old with a whopping 0 first-team starts to his name.
7. Paul Konchesky
If Manchester United wanted a glimpse of how David Moyes’ tenure might pan out, they ought to have looked at Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool stint.
There are a fair few players from his one summer window who we could have included here – indeed, we did include Brad Jones – but Konchesky is the archetype.
The left-back followed his Fulham manager to Anfield and, erm, what did you expect?
6. Craig Bellamy
Bellamy impressed at times during his first Liverpool spell, scoring in the famous win at Camp Nou in 2007. This entry, however, concerns his second spell at Anfield.
The Welshman was 32 and coming off the back of a loan spell in the Championship with Cardiff City when Kenny Dalglish temporarily lost track of time and attempted to sign the 2003 version of Bellamy only to end up with the 2011 version, what with it being 2011.
5. Diego Cavalieri
Signing a back-up goalkeeper on a free is one thing, but forking out £3million to give someone a glorified career break in his mid-twenties is quite another,
It’s almost impressive that Cavalieri – not even a Brazil international or even necessarily one of the best keepers in his domestic league – wound up with the Liverpool No.1 jersey.
It’s even more impressive that jersey was never in use in the Premier League during his two years at the club.
Perhaps even more confusingly, Hodgson – the man who decided he didn’t need him because he had Brad Jones – re-signed Cavalieri for Crystal Palace nearly a decade after letting him leave.
4. Ben Davies
Davies? We don’t know anyone by that name here. Now turn around and go back where you came from.
3. Paul Jones
Now we’re not saying Gerard Houllier was sacked to stop him repeating this sort of signing, but we can’t really rule it out.
Injuries gave Houllier the opportunity to add to his goalkeeper roster of Dudek, Kirkland and Luzi, and he chose a 36-year-old Southampton backup.
2. Sotirios Kyrgiakos
The prize possession of Benitez’s ‘fuck it, I’m leaving soon anyway’ phase, Kyrgiakos was presumably signed from AEK Athens just after his 30th birthday in an effort to boost Liverpool’s chances to win a battle of the bands competition.
Stuck around much longer – and contributed far more – than he really ought to have done.
You know who gets better with time? Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) October 23, 2014
1. Steven Caulker
It’s weird to think – with all the Houllier, Benitez and Hodgson options on the table – that Jurgen Klopp is responsible for the number one on this list.
Klopp was presumably so impressed by Caulker’s performance in Southampton’s 6-1 home defeat to his Reds that he made sure the England international (yeah, we know) ended the season at Anfield.
Only Klopp knows why he preferred to use the centre-back as an emergency striker, and we’re not sure we want to ask.