With no Premier League football until April 30 at the earliest, the Liverpool ECHO have been busy looking back at some of the Reds’ best and worst ever signings.
Up first is the flops. These are the failures that haunted the managers who went into the transfer market to recruit them.
We’ve given our verdicts on Liverpool’s worst ever signing. One man dominates – but there are other suggestions too.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:
El Hadji Diouf
Paul Gorst: When Liverpool signed El Hadji Diouf in the summer of 2002, I thought Gerard Houllier had signed the player to win Liverpool the Premier League.
The Senegal international spent that summer looking like the real deal as the African nation went all the way to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
A debut brace at home to Southampton sent expectations racing further but slowly but surely, Diouf’s career began to unravel.
His form dropped off, his behaviour became increasingly erratic and he became the only No.9 in the club’s history to go an entire season without a goal.
His spitting at a Celtic fan – a club Liverpool enjoy a fantastic relationship with – in a UEFA Cup game in 2003 was a real nadir.
Now spends his days largely mouthing off about Liverpool, Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher. His Anfield tenure leaves a sour taste.
Ian Doyle: There have, for various reasons, been some serious wastes of money during the past three decades – think Sean Dundee, Bernard Diomede, Christian Ziege, Bruno Cheyrou, Fernando Morientes.
Robbie Keane just didn’t work out but at least Liverpool got good money back for him, the same with Christian Benteke.
Andy Carroll provided some great memories when on the pitch, and those rightly criticising El Hadji Diouf for his subsequent dreadful behaviour must remember the excitement at his purchase.
And it’s easy to point the finger at Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen, who were bought during a difficult period for the club.
Three names, then, stand out. Lazar Markovic just didn’t bring anything consistently despite obvious talent, while Alberto Aquilani’s injuries meant he was never going to be a replacement for Xabi Alonso.
But Mario Balotelli is the one. Liverpool didn’t want him, and then bought him which already put the Italian on the backfoot.
The main problem, though, was Balotelli stopped being who he was, instead intent on being on his best behaviour at most times.
It robbed him of the swagger that made him so popular at Manchester City, and once Daniel Sturridge was injured he was on a hiding to nothing.
It’s remarkable to think he was still on Liverpool’s books during the Jurgen Klopp era. £16million for not very much.
El Hadji Diouf
Joe Rimmer: There are two men that could take this unwanted crown.
There have been worse players, but these two let themselves down with their attitudes.
One is Neil Ruddock. The other is El Hadji Diouf.
Ruddock summed up everything that was wrong with Liverpool in the 90s. He cared more for the social life than he did for the club, then he went away and boasted about it on the after dinner circuit. That upsets me.
But Diouf went further. He was spit-full and spiteful. And he wasn’t a very good player, either.
Diouf came at a time when Liverpool should have been kicking on, instead he flopped, went a whole season without scoring and dragged the club down.
And he blamed everyone else for it. He still does.
He should never have worn the red shirt and was about as selfish as players come.
I never want to see his like again playing for Liverpool.
Theo Squires: Liverpool really have signed some dross over the years but when you think about it, there rarely tends to be such a negative feeling when the deal goes through.
So for El-Hadji Diouf, there was initial intrigue and excitement after his performances at the 2002 World Cup. For Mario Balotelli, there was misguided hope that Anfield could be where he finally got his act together.
So with that in mind, my least favourite Reds signing is one that caused absolutely no fanfare and excitement and one Liverpool fans didn’t want from the very beginning – Paul Konchesky.
As Jamie Carragher so eloquently once said no-one grows up wanting to be Gary Neville. Full-back is the least glamorous position on the pitch, or at least it was before Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson came on.
Unfortunately for Konchesky, he was before the duo. And he was a distinctly average left-back who was never up to the standards required, putting in woeful performance after woeful performance.
It gets even worse when you remember Liverpool parted with £3.5m and two of their more talented youngsters at the time in Lauri Dalla Valle and Alex Kacaniklic to eventually sign him after a summer-long pursuit.
Granted the duo never lived up to the hype but at the time they had been stars in the Reds’ youth ranks. Dalla Valle had just been handed his first team debut and had been a free-scoring forward coming through the ranks while Kacaniklic did not have to wait long to become a full Sweden international.
And that’s before the whole Hodgson admitting he got his players muddled up and didn’t mean to sell Kacaniklic as part of the deal in the first place.
As quickly as Konchesky followed Roy Hodgson through the Anfield arrival door, he wasted no time joining him in exiting too, sent on loan to the Championship less than six months later. Not worth the effort at all.
El Hadji Diouf
Chris Beesley: I know, I know, this choice is like shooting fish in a barrel but the Senegalese striker was such a shocker he cannot be ignored.
He can be forgiven for being a Kop flop, and there’s no doubting that six goals from 80 matches is just that for a big-money striker, but what is impossible to gloss over is the bad attitude of this rotten apple.
This is the same Diouf who once launched an extraordinary verbal attack on Reds legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher and spat at fans among a long list of disgusting acts.
A disgrace to the shirt.
Sean Bradbury: Sometimes it is difficult to look beyond the obvious candidates.
Merely mentioning the unholy trinity of Paul Ince, El Hadji Diouf and Paul Konchesky is enough to make most Liverpool fans break out into a cold sweat.
Each member of that imperfect hat-trick would be a fair answer.
The ‘big money flop’ category is well stocked too, with Andy Carroll, Christian Benteke and Lazar Markovic arguably its chief standard bearers.
But I’m going for Alberto Aquilani.
Maybe it is a little unfair, but for me he will always be a symbol of Liverpool’s rapid decline as the elite side built by Rafa Benitez began to crumble.
From day one, it was clear the Italian was in no position to pick up the mantle of Xabi Alonso. And as Jamie Carragher once succinctly put it on Aquilani: “We spent a lot of money on him. He was signed injured, he left injured and I can’t remember him not being injured.”
El Hadji Diouf
Connor Dunn: Enough said.
Dan Kay: Anyone who saw the talented but brittle Liverpool team of 1996/97 manage to finish fourth in a two-horse title race would accept they needed more steel in the middle of the park, a Paul Ince-type player. But not Paul Ince.
The self-styled ‘Guvnor’ was not without ability and played his part in helping Manchester United break their ceiling in the early 90s to begin their era of dominance.
But Alex Ferguson saw through the bluff and bluster of the player he himself called a ‘big time Charlie’ and United never looked back once they shipped him off to Inter Milan in 1995.
If there’s one match which summed up Ince’s time at Anfield, it would be the FA Cup fourth tie at Manchester United in January 1999 which proved to be a hideous forerunner of the Champions League final later that season which sealed the Old Trafford side’s Treble triumph.
A mediocre Liverpool side now under the sole charge of Gerard Houllier after beginning the season with the ill-fated joint-manager fiasco alongside Roy Evans had managed to get their noses in front through Michael Owen’s early header at the Stretford End and, with only twenty minutes left, hopes of an unlikely but possibly season-invigorating victory were rising.
Then Liverpool’s captain, Paul Ince, asked to be substituted.
Maybe he was injured. But true leaders go to the well and smash through the pain barrier when it really matters. Think Gerry Byrne playing 117 minutes of Liverpool’s first ever FA Cup final win in 1965 with a broken collarbone.
United scored twice in stoppage time to end Liverpool’s season in January and six days later Ince was doing overhead kicks and celebrating wildly as the Reds won an irrelevant league match against Middlesbrough 3-1 to begin the long, dreary end to that season.
And when the campaign was over, just like Fergie five years beforehand, Paul Ince was sent packing by a manager who saw through him and the Reds never looked back.
Caoimhe O’Neill: There are quite a few bad apples to pick from but in terms of rotten transfers I’ll go with Christian Poulsen.
The Danish midfielder arrived from Juventus for £4.5m in 2010. Poulsen was signed by Roy Hodgson and was widely earmarked to be the replacement for the departing Javier Mascherano.
His only Anfield highlight was posing for that now infamous picture alongside the then Liverpool manager and fellow new recruits Danny Wilson and Milan Jovanovic.
He played 12 times in total for the Reds and I can’t remember a single minute. Which is probably a good thing.