Ranked! Liverpool's 10 worst signings of the Premier League era
Liverpool are in their most fruitful period of transfer business for years, with the majority of Jurgen Klopp’s new arrivals delivering on the pitch and the club securing great value for their deadwood too.
Since Klopp arrived in October 2015, the German has been backed heavily by owners Fenway Sports Group. The big-money signings of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum and Naby Keita have been complemented by bargains in the form of Loris Karius, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Dominic Solanke.
Yet it hasn’t always been that way for the Reds, with this revival set against the backdrop of questionable deals from their recent past. In the Premier League era, the club have had as many misses as they have hits, no doubt setting them back in their quest for the top prize. This is the very worst of them...
10. Torben Piechnik
Signed from: Copenhagen (£500,000), 1992
Graeme Souness made a raft of errors during his ill-fated three-year stint as Liverpool manager, as he stripped the club back to its fundamentals in a bid to restore fortunes after Kenny Dalglish’s exit.
Although his show of faith in blooding a host of youngsters including Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler was impressive, the Scot’s forays into the transfer market were decidedly less so. The likes of Istvan Kozma and Nigel Clough are blots on Souness’s copybook, but not worse than Piechnik, who arrived from Copenhagen in 1992 with a glowing reputation after his performances for Denmark at that summer’s European Championship.
Unfortunately, Piechnik’s defensive ideals jarred horrifically with those of Souness. The Dane's unwillingness to adapt meant he made just 24 appearances for the club - a paltry return on Liverpool’s investment.
9. Bruno Cheyrou
Signed from: Lille (£3.7m), 2002
Few players in history are comparable to Zinedine Zidane, but Gerard Houllier was happy to make a bold claim about Liverpool’s new No.28 back in 2002.
The French manager explained how his 24-year-old compatriot “has his [Zidane's] ability to pick a pass, and moves a little like him,” while suggesting that at five years Zizou's junior, Cheyrou could follow Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord in adapting over time to become a Premier League star.
He went on to feature 48 times for the Reds, scoring five goals (only two of which came in 31 league appearances), and spent half of his Liverpool tenure on loan back in France.
Houllier’s misplaced faith in Cheyrou earns the latter a place on this list, as a representative of the otherwise-successful manager’s dismal attempts at cherry-picking hidden gems from his homeland (see also: Jean-Michel Ferri, Bernard Diomede, Gregory Vignal and Anthony Le Tallec).
8. Charlie Adam
Signed from: Blackpool (£6.75m), 2011
There have been few bigger one-season wonders in the history of the Premier League than Adam, whose heroics in Blackpool’s promotion fairy tale of 2010 were followed up by an impressive maiden campaign in England's top flight.
Adam was brought in to provide more quality in Dalglish’s midfield, as part of a depressing recruitment drive that features heavily in this top 10. However, it soon became apparent that the Scot was better as a big fish in a small pond at Bloomfield Road.
His natural abilities - a strong passing range, fine set-piece delivery and the canny knack of scoring from long range - were not enough to keep him afloat in a squad fighting to restore their place in the league’s upper echelons. It came as no surprise, therefore, that he joined the miscellaneous faces congregated at Stoke just one season after his big break.
7. Andy Carroll
Signed from: Newcastle (£35m), 2011
Carroll followed a similar trajectory to Adam, but the brutish Geordie at least arrived with the promise of genuine potential. He was a significant gamble as the club’s record signing, but at 22 and having scored 11 and assisted nine in 19 Premier League games for Newcastle, there was hope that he could become the Kop’s new hero.
However, Dalglish’s blueprint for success - shifting the ball out wide and crossing in for the big man up top - was undoubtedly dated. So while Carroll is more technically gifted than given credit for, his Merseyside move was doomed from the beginning.
Given the exploits of a man brought in on the same day, Luis Suarez, Carroll was able to shuffle out of the Anfield exit under less scrutiny. But Liverpool’s £20m loss when selling him to West Ham will have hurt.
6. Stewart Downing
Signed from: Aston Villa (£18.5m), 2011
Our third and final inclusion from Dalglish’s second reign in the Anfield dugout, Downing trumps both Adam and Carroll for his standing as the Kop’s pariah.
Few supporters backed Liverpool’s pursuit of Aston Villa’s Plain Jane, and this only heightened the demands on Dalglish’s new winger who had been earmarked to provide for Carroll in attack.
Downing was a woefully uninspired signing, unable to inject flair into Liverpool’s attack and shrinking while Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodriguez - both of whom were signed for free - shone. He survived at the club longer than many expected, but the writing was on the wall when Brendan Rodgers began fielding him as a left-back. He was rightly carted off to West Ham in 2013.