5 of the worst Liverpool signings of the century including Rodgers’ disaster choice
Under Sporting Director Michael Edwards, Liverpool have shown an uncanny ability to sign players who have gone on to make a positive impact at the club.
The number of players who have failed to do so is in the majority as the Reds can supposedly do no wrong. It wasn’t always so and we have had our share of duds over the years too.
While some failed to reach the necessary levels in spite of their best efforts, there have been a few who have embarrassed the club both on and off the pitch.
1. Christian Poulsen
The Dane was not a bad player, far from it. A two-time Danish Player of the Year, his move to Anfield happened towards the twilight of his career. Known for his versatility and tenacious tackling, Poulsen has played in all of Europe’s top five leagues.
He arrived on Merseyside from Juventus as a 30-year-old who was on the wane. The Dane’s major issue was his lack of pace and he never managed to cope with the energy of the Premier League.
In spite of giving it his best, it just wasn’t good enough and he endured a fair amount of ridicule at Liverpool. He showcased what he was capable of in an impressive 3-0 win against West Ham United but continued to struggle against better opposition.
Following the sacking of Roy Hodgson, his successor Kenny Dalglish continued to use Poulsen before eventually replacing him with Jay Spearing. The player stayed for just a season on Merseyside before moving to Ligue 1 with Evian in 2011.
He would make just 21 appearances for the Reds in his time on Merseyside. He would go on to win two Eredivisie titles with Ajax Amsterdam and redeem his reputation.
Verdict: Wrong player at the wrong time
2. Paul Konchesky
Paul Konchesky’s most memorable memory involving Liverpool came as an opposition player. That should give you an idea of the effect the player had in the Red shirt.
With Fabio Aurelio consistently out injured, the surprising decision was taken to sign Paul Konchesky to fill in at left-back. The decision was even more stunning considering Liverpool already had Emiliano Insua coming through the ranks. The Argentine starlet would spend the season out on loan while Konchesky floundered in shoes too big to fit him.
Having to rely on a player of the Englishman’s calibre showed how the Reds had fallen after being the number one ranked club in Europe just two seasons ago.
Konchesky’s tenure at Liverpool could be used to surmise Hogdson’s disastrous stint – not good enough in spite of having Premier League experience. One can sympathize with the player as he just took the opportunity given to him.
But the truth was that he was just not good enough. Konchesky made 18 appearances for the Reds and was promptly shipped out on loan by Kenny Dalglish in January 2011. He left the club permanently to join Leicester City the following summer.
Although the player states that he ‘enjoyed every bit of his time’ at Liverpool, his mother had to post an expletive-laden post to fans due to the constant criticism her son received.
Verdict: Just not good enough
3. Alberto Aquilani
Any player brought in to replace Xabi Alonso would have had his work cut out. Not only was the Spaniard a fan favourite, but he was also one of the world’s best in his position.
In Aquilani, the Reds had an excellent replacement on paper. A supremely talented player, he just could not stay fit to showcase what he was capable of.
Rafael Benitez’s intention was to replace Alonso with Aston Villa skipper Gareth Barry. The Spaniard, however, had to make do with the injury-prone Italian instead.
A versatile midfielder, Aquilani made just 28 appearances for the club and scored two goals and six assists. When fit, he showed glimpses of his undoubted quality, with his performance in the 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid a highlight.
Given that Atletico won the tie on away goals, the Italian’s masterclass was quickly forgotten. He spent the next two seasons on loan at Juventus and AC Milan before moving to Fiorentina permanently in 2012. Liverpool were more than happy to let him go – a fact encapsulated by us selling him for free.
Meanwhile, Gareth Barry is still in action with West Bromwich Albion in the English second tier.
Verdict: Technically gifted, physically cursed
4. Mario Balotelli
There is nothing wrong in thinking you can do better where others have failed. But it is necessary to know what one is playing at.
Brendan Rodgers was guilty of just that when he decided to sign volatile Italian striker Mario Balotelli in 2014. Fresh off a stunning title charge, Rodgers was keen to build on the previous season’s promise and go one further.
The club did not bring in a proper replacement for the outgoing Luis Suarez and were forced to sign Balotelli towards the end of the window. The Italian failed to show any semblance of effect or intent.
Balotelli was highly rated as one of Europe’s best talents and was tipped for greatness. His mentality, however, was the issue and he never came close to reaching the level he promised.
It can be counted as hubris on Rodgers’ end to think he could do otherwise where the likes of Jose Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri had failed. Balotelli was thrust out of the door on loan to Milan the next summer before being allowed to join Nice on a free transfer in 2016.
Verdict: A poor transfer that should never have happened
5. El-Hadji Diouf
Easily the worst player to have represented Liverpool in the Premier League era. Not only was the Senegalese star a waste of money but he was also a colossal waste of space.
It is understandable if a player fails to perform on the pitch, but Diouf’s problem was that he was a disgrace off it as well. Signed in 2002 after an impressive World Cup, the Senegalese scored twice on his Anfield debut.
Unfortunately, that was as good as it got as he would go on to score just four more in his next 79 games. He has the dubious distinction of being the only Liverpool No.9 in history to go a season without scoring.
He dragged the club’s name through the mud when he spat at a Celtic fan in 2003 and had to be questioned by the police. He received a two-match ban and was fined two weeks’ wages. Liverpool also had to make a donation of £60,000 to a Glasgow charity of Celtic’s choice.
More Liverpool News
- Brendan Rodgers reveals real reason behind Raheem Sterling’s Liverpool exit
- James Milner wins Twitter by picking his isolation XI
- Roy Evans reveals he lost out on Teddy Sheringham to Manchester United
An unpopular player among the squad due to his mentality, he was finally shipped out to Bolton Wanderers in 2005. The fact that we went for Diouf at the expense of Nicholas Anelka in 2002 is still one of the club’s biggest blunders in the transfer market.
The Frenchman had spent an impressive season on loan at Liverpool and was even keen on a move. It is extremely unlikely that he would have embarrassed the club the way Diouf did. The Senegalese still holds a grudge against the club and can be seen making statements against both the club and former teammates.