Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
James Milner (free)
The veteran midfielder Milner is enjoying a renaissance at Liverpool of late, despite turning 33 later this season. The former Newcastle, Aston Villa and Manchester City man arrived at Anfield on a free transfer in 2015, having seemingly been persuaded by the promise of a central role under then-manager Brendan Rodgers.
A year later, Rodgers had left and Milner’s versatility and professionalism led to Jurgen Klopp asking him if he'd become the Reds’ left-back for the season – a role he has admitted he didn’t like doing, but did to the best of his ability.
Now, with Andy Robertson firmly established on the left of Liverpool’s defence, Milner has forced his way into Klopp’s midfield and is shining in the central role he has craved throughout his career. As he closes in on his 100th league appearance for the Merseysiders, Milner is thriving in his twilight years.
Sami Hyypia (£2.5m)
Liverpool may currently have the world’s most expensive defender among their ranks after splashing £75m on Virgil van Dijk in January, but the Reds’ best defender of the Premier League era cost a snip of that.
Sami Hyypia arrived as part of a massive defensive overhaul under Gerard Houllier in 1999, signing for £2.5 million from Willem II - incredibly, after being recommended to the club by a Finnish cameraman.
The centre-back went on to become the fulcrum of Houllier’s defence as the Frenchman put Liverpool back on the map with a cup treble in 2001. Hyypia continued to be key under Rafa Benitez, winning the Champions League in 2005 before leaving after 464 appearances.
Philippe Coutinho (£8.5m)
Bought for £8.5m from Inter Milan in January 2013, Coutinho departed five years later for £142m to Barcelona. Not only a bargain, but also a fine player to boot.
Signed by Rodgers, the Brazilian magician – as he was nicknamed at Anfield – made 201 appearances, scoring 54 goals for the club. Of his 41 league strikes, 19 were scored from outside the box... which is more than any other player in Premier League history.
Pepe Reina (£6m)
Goalkeepers don’t come cheap these days (as Liverpool know full well): the role now requires much more than just strong reflexes and shot-stopping ability. A modern keeper must be able to play as well; distribution is vital.
Benitez recognised this early on and signed Pepe Reina from Villarreal in 2006 for £6m. That sum was, until the arrival of Simon Mignolet for £9m in 2013, Liverpool’s record for a goalkeeper.
The former Barcelona stopper made almost 400 appearances for the Reds, becoming a firm fan favourite. His ability to distribute effectively from the back and communicate with his defence has been something Liverpool have lacked since his departure in 2014, although £60m new signing Alisson should have the qualities to replace him at last.
Gary McAllister (free)
Milner’s recent form has got some fans likening his influence to that of Gary McAllister after the veteran Scot was signed by Houllier on a free transfer in 2000 at the ripe old age of 35.
“Old baldy ‘ed”, as the Kop sang, scored seven vital goals during the incredible 2000/01 season, making an impressive 49 appearances despite his advancing years. He also helped to nurture younger midfield talents while with the club, most notably a certain Steven Gerrard – for whom he is now assistant manager at Rangers.
Xabi Alonso (£10.7m)
£10.7m wasn’t exactly cheap in 2004, when newly appointed manager Benitez paid Real Sociedad that figure for a relatively unknown young Spanish midfielder. But a year later, it certainly looked like a bargain.
Alonso played a key role in getting Liverpool to the Champions League final, scoring in the final and going on to become one of the classiest midfielders in Europe. Subsequent moves to Real Madrid, then Bayern Munich, added to a glittering playing career for one of the most likeable men in football.
Oh, and he scored twice for the Reds from inside his own half. Not bad.