Coming up with a list of ten greatest Liverpool signings is a thankless task. The Merseyside club have one of the most decorated histories in European football and every single one of those successful teams has been littered with a number of stars.
Every supporter will have their favourites meaning any ‘top ten’ or ‘ten greatest’ article is going to be subjective. This one is no different. For every player named there are ten viable alternatives who could could replace them on this prestigious list.
There’s an argument to be made, for instance, for Raheem Sterling to appear on this list – at least from a business point of view. He was a key part of a title challenging squad and the Reds turned a huge profit on him. However, when compared to the legends of the club it’s a no contest.
My bed has been made and I am lying in it. In no particular order – the 10 greatest signings for Liverpool.
Let’s start off with a unanimous one. King Kenny, as he is so fondly known, signed for the Reds in the August of 1977 for a fee of £440,000 – what was then a British transfer record. He scored on his league debut against Middlesbrough as well as on his Anfield debut against Newcastle United.
The transition from the Scottish League was seamless and he scored the winning goal in the 1978 European Cup final to round off a memorable first campaign.
Dalglish played a pivotal role in Liverpool becoming the dominant force both domestically and in Europe. He finished his playing career having won 15 honours as well as seven Charity Shields. He continued his success in the dugout adding a further three league titles, two FA Cups and a Super Cup to the trophy cabinet.
Rush arrived from Chester for a then record fee for a teenager – £300,000 – in 1980. He went on to form one of the best strike partnerships ever alongside Dalglish.
His most prolific season was 1976/77 which saw the Welsh striker finish with 40 goals in 57 appearances.
He had a one-year affair with Juventus during the 1987/88 season but returned to Merseyside in the August of 1988. During his two stints with the club he scored 346 goals in 660 appearances and it was these goals which played a part in the club winning five league titles, three FA Cups and two European Cups throughout his time at Liverpool.
The Uruguayan was followed by controversy during his time at Anfield but it was his hunger for goals which sees him included on this list. He arrived at the club on deadline day of the 2011 January winter window and was, until the arrival of Andy Carroll a few hours later, the club’s record transfer at £22.8million.
Life in Liverpool got off to a slow start. In his first 52 games for the club he scored just the 21 goals with some fans questioning his ability in front of goal. However, in his next 81 games he scored 61 times and played an integral role in the club’s 2013/14 title push.
He was sold to Barcelona in the summer of 2014 for a reported £65million. Despite his time at the club being brief, and the League Cup being the only silverware won, he still goes down as one of the club’s best ever players.
Xabi Alonso isn’t just a Liverpool great. He’ll go down in history as one of the most influential midfielders of his generation. Rafa Benitez signed him from Real Sociedad in the summer of 2004 for just over £10million and the rest, as they say, is history.
He scored the equaliser in the dramatic Champions League penalty shootout win against AC Milan to etch his name into Liverpool folklore. The following year he was part of the squad which won the FA Cup. He left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 and the Reds pocketed £30million.
It was his impact on Steven Gerrard which often goes unnoticed though. He arrived, took the role as midfield conductor and freed up Gerrard to turn into the destructive force of nature he was in a more attacking role.
El Niño arrived from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2007 and stole the heart of every single fan. The “Torres bounce” was a familiar sight on the Kop as the £20million signing made himself right at home.
Playing just ahead of Gerrard in Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 system, the pair terrorised defences all over the continent. His debut season in England saw him score 33 times in all competitions but he never quite reached those heights again because of countless injuries.
It wasn’t just his goals that won over the fans. Like Alonso it was his impact on Gerrard. A rampant Liverpool, spearheaded by Torres and Gerrard, put four past Real Madrid and Manchester United in the same week.
He left under a cloud –having won nothing with Liverpool – to join Chelsea in January 2011 in a deal worth £50million. There was uproar at the time but in hindsight it was a good deal for the club. They more than doubled their investment having got the best years out of the Spanish striker while his stock was high.
In February 1967, after just 28 appearances for Blackpool, Hughes joined Liverpool for £65,000. Manager Bill Shankly was stopped in his car by the police as he drove the player to Liverpool for the first time and said: “Don’t you know who I’ve got in this car? The captain of England.“ The policeman peered through the window and said that he didn’t recognise the man, to which Shankly replied: “No, but you will.”
Like with a lot of things, Shankly was right and Hughes did captain England. He made 474 league appearances for the Reds over 12 years before a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1979. While plying his trade at Anfield he was part of a team that won four league titles, two European Cups and two FA Cups.
John Barnes left Watford on June 9, 1987 in a £900,000 deal to join Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool. He was part of the dream team alongside Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge as the Reds entertained not just the fans on Merseyside but the the UK.
The team created chances at will as Barnes and Beardsley tormented the opposition and provided the ammunition for Aldridge. That Liverpool side will always be remembered for the sheer quality of its football fuelled by the wizardry of Barnes.
During his time at football he made 314 league appearances, scored 84 goals, won two league titles and two FA Cups. He spent a decade with the club before leaving in 1997 to join Newcastle United.
Alan Hansen signed for Liverpool for a reported £110,000 from Scottish side Partick Thistle. He made his debut on September 24, 1977 in a league match at Anfield and went on to play 620 games for the Reds. His career with the club spanned three decades before he finally retired in 1991.
During his time on Merseyside he won eight league titles and three European Cups. He won a total of 23 honours while playing in red and captained the side to a league and cup double during 1985/86 campaign.
He’s fondly remembered by many as one of the best centre-backs to ever play for the club and his ball-playing ways wouldn’t look out of place in the modern game.
Ray Clemence was signed by Liverpool manager Bill Shankly in June 1967 from Scunthorpe United for a fee of £18,000. The 22-year-old made his debut for the first team in a League Cup match at Anfield in September 1968. The Reds ran out as 2-0 victors over Swansea Town and Clemence had a clean sheet on his debut.
However, he didn’t break into the first-team until the 1970/71 campaign. He made the goalkeeping position his own and clocked up 470 league appearances for the Merseyside club.
He left to join Spurs in 1981 for £300,000 having won a host of trophies at Anfield including five league titles, three European Cups and two UEFA Cups.
Little was known about Sami Hyypiä when he signed for Liverpool in May 1999.
The towering centre-back joined Gerard Houllier’s Reds for a reported £2.6million from Dutch side Willem II.
The story goes he had been recommended to former chief executive Peter Robinson by a TV cameraman and the Finland international impressed the club.
Over the next decade he went on to become an integral member of Houllier’s team and Rafael Benitez’s.
He captained the side for a period before a certain Steven Gerrard was handed the armband.
Whilst at Anfield he made more than 450 appearances for the club, won two FA Cups, two League Cups, one UEFA Cup and one Champions League.