AFTER a season that has promised so much, a downturn in Liverpool’s results, coinciding with a hectic fixture schedule and the swinging open of the January transfer window, has led to many Reds calling for John Henry to crack open the chequebook and buy in some reinforcements.
So far, so quiet. And a perceived inaction to bolster a squad that is starting to look stretched has sparked the well-worn debates, from the ambition of FSG to the philosophy of Jürgen Klopp. A third strand is the January window itself and how useful it is for recruiting talent. How many big players move at this time of year? How good at attracting them to relocate to Merseyside are Liverpool?
The present transfer system was introduced at the start of the 2002-3 campaign. Before then, clubs could trade players throughout the season until March 31.
Since the change was made then, how have Liverpool fared in the January window? Here we detail – and rate – the Reds buys in the winter window from their first in 2003-4 up until the present day. Were they sound, steady or shite?
Bought on: January 9, 2004
Any good? With Chris Kirkland and Jerzy Dudek crocked, Liverpool fan Jones was brought on emergency loan to keep goal. At 36 years, eight months and 23 days old, he was the oldest player to make his debut for the Reds since World War II. He made just two appearances, keeping a clean sheet at Anfield in a 1-0 win versus Aston Villa before conceding two at Spurs in a 2-1 defeat.
Bought on: January 13, 2005
Any good? The constant clamour for ‘marquee signings’ and ‘making a statement in the transfer market’ are nothing new. And when Liverpool swooped for the three-times Champions League winner from Real Madrid it felt like the Reds had ticked a couple of boxes. He started well enough, dropping the shoulder and unleashing a top-corner finish versus Charlton in his fourth appearance for the club. He followed that with a header against Fulham in the next game. But problems with fitness and ineligibility for Europe saw add only more goal before the end of the season. Despite irregular cameos of his obvious past class, Morientes often looked off the pace and could never convince Rafa Benitez to give him a regular starting role. Sixteen months after he signed, his Anfield career was over.
Bought on: January 21, 2005
Any good? Liverpool battled Chelsea to sign the England Under-21 keeper from Leeds as Dudek’s understudy but with Pepe Reina arriving in the summer, Carson hardly got a sniff, appearing in just nine Liverpool games. He is best remembered for a hero to zero moment versus Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final, keeping The Old Lady at bay only to concede a soft goal to a Fabio Cannavaro header. He moved to West Bromich Albion in 2008.
Bought on: January 5, 2005
Any good? Mauricio Pellegrino remains one of my favourite Liverpool players. He came. He ran. Slowly. In fact he was referred to as “slower than slow itself”. This was an indisputable fact. He remains one of the slowest Liverpool players I have ever seen. He played in a back three at Palace with Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. Up against Andy Johnson. Soz, Jay.
And yet. He ended up with a coaching role, which may well explain in part why he came in. He was supposedly loved in the dressing room — when hooked at half-time against Middlesbrough other players tried to cover for him. Blaming themselves for a lad being slower than slow himself as Szilárd Nemeth ran riot. He clearly had been a footballer. He demonstrated he had a football brain. As a player for Liverpool? Rubbish. As a man? Loved.
We should all be able to relate to that…
Bought on: January 12, 2006
Any good? Daniel Agger could really play. He looked, well, amazing. He looked like the Liverpool centre-back of your dreams. A great left foot, lovely balance. Grace. Grace is rare in footballers, rarer still in defenders. He could win his battles, but when he was on, he made playing centre-half look like a walk in the park — to the extent you began to stop watching, stop appreciating.
By the end it became painful watching him because it was clearly painful for him to play. He began to find it just so, so hard. We put our footballers through the wringer, you know. Especially at centre-half. There is talk Nemanja Vidic can’t sit down on a plane, his back is in so much pain.
What a signing. What grace. Would love to see it in full flow in the ground one more time. I probably should have appreciated it more.
Bought on: January 4, 2006
Fee: Part Exchange
Any good? Jan Kromkamp did my head in. He’s part of this weird little three-part programme that Benitez went through to replace Steve Finnan. Bought a Josemi. Traded him up for a slightly better player with fewer jokes in Kromkamp. Then traded him for a far better player with jokes in Alvaro Arbeloa. I liked Josemi for all his flaws. I loved Arbeloa. Kromkamp a middle child who wasn’t around for long.
My head went with him in the 2006 FA Cup Final — he was the freshest man on the pitch but couldn’t impact the game. Lads were dropping like flies and all he had to do was run strongly and keep it ticking over, and while he wasn’t poor he wasn’t shaking the game to its foundations.
A lot of this may be harsh, he was a top flight pro. But neither a character nor very good player. A lad, running about, doing his best.
Bought on: January 27, 2006
Any good? It’s quite cold some of the analysis in this piece, and it’s indicative of how we often think of footballers. Transfer fees, goals, assists — it’s easy to deal only in facts and figures and forget the other side of football: the emotion.
When Robbie Fowler was sold to Leeds, Evertonians laughed and mocked. A Blue at work printed out a life-size pic of him in a Leeds kit and left it in a prominent place for us all to see. They knew we were heartbroken.
God, one of our own, cruelly and heartlessly sold for £11.75m. We didn’t even get to say goodbye.
When he returned in 2006, deep down we all knew — he knew — that this wasn’t the same player who had ripped up the league and put his name on the lips of every football fan back in the day. But he was still ours. Still one of us. He added 12 to his total tally for The Reds in his second coming, including a lovely goal against Reading at Anfield that demonstrated his finesse hadn’t faded.
Importantly, this time we got to say goodbye to a Liverpool legend.
Bought on: January 30, 2007
Any good? A touch of class from an unlikely source. Not as technically gifted as other Spaniards of his generation but he was definitely a reader of the game. It takes a good footballing brain to be successfully versatile, and he was.
He was initially signed as Finnan’s understudy. He spent a few games at left-back, including in his first start — tasked with keeping none other than Lionel Messi quiet in front of 88,000 inside the Camp Nou. He rose to that task as he so often did over 98 appearances in a red shirt. He would go on to spend a successful few years as Real Madrid’s least technical player.
If nothing else, at least he wasn’t Lucas Neill.
Bought on: January 30, 2007
Any good? A bulldog of a midfielder, always in the heat of the battle. Bags of technical ability coupled with a South American passion on the field made him a huge favourite at Anfield. Something about South American’s and Liverpool just seems to click. And with Javier Mascherano is was a match made in heaven.
His temperament would get the better of him at times but it made him no less of a player. His role as the anchor in the best midfield in the world allowed others around him to excel. Xabi Alonso given the playmaking responsibilities he desired. Steven Gerrard allowed free attacking roam.
There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors surrounding his departure from the club. Dodgy politics from the highest level seemed to dominate affairs. But he should always be remembered fondly, because he loved Liverpool.
Bought on: January 11, 2007
Any good? There was a time when it seemed Liverpool had exorcised the left-back curse with the bustling and busy Insua. The Argentine was eased into the side — a couple of games in 2006-7, three more the following season. The campaign after it was 13. The future was bright — except it wasn’t. In 2009-10, Insua clocked up an impressive 44 appearances; even registering his only goal — a belter at Arsenal.
Yet, all of a sudden, Insua was looking laboured. He was puffing and blowing, he was beaten for pace. Still only 21, he soldiered on as the other left-back, Fabio Aurelio, was dealing with doctors instead of tackling wingers. Manager wannabe Christian Purslow was believed to have doubts about Insua and he was soon on his way out as Roy Hodgson replaced Benitez. Paul Konchesky arrived in his place, Aurelio was re-signed and the curse continued…
Bought on: January 11, 2008
Any good? Initially, no. He scored an own goal in his first start in the famous nearly-not 5-2 win over non-league Havant and Waterlooville. From there, he became a regular towards the back end of the 2007-8 season. He had to settle for sharing a place with Hyypia and Agger for most of Benitez’s remaining years but became a regular once the Spaniard departed. Despite showing his scoring touch with seven goals in the 2013-14 season, and making over 300 appearances for the club, the Slovakian became a maligned figure at Anfield and the arrival of Klopp seemed to all but rubbed stamp his exit.
Bought on: January 12, 2010
Any good? Underrated, in my opinion. Had his song which was boss and scored when he got more regular game time. The highlight were his two hat-tricks against Birmingham and Fulham, as well as two goals at Stamford Bridge in his final year. Despite only spending two-and-a-half years he took to the Liverpool supporters and they took to him. Eventually went back to finish his career back in his home country, which is testament to the bloke he was.
Bought on: January 31, 2011
Any good? Probably the most infamous of our January buys and remains to this day our record signing. With Fernando Torres on the way out — in a footballing sense as well as leaving the club — The Reds found themselves shopping in the manic hours of deadline day. Carroll had scored 11 goals at the season’s halfway stage but it was the figure that had jaws dropping across the footballing world. Signed with an injury, he made his first appearance as a sub against Manchester United in March and his first goals came in an impressive 3-0 win over Manchester City. Two goals against Everton, including the winner in the FA Cup semi-final, and a game-changing appearance in the final against Chelsea were the Geordie’s most notable contributions before he was inevitably moved on.
Bought on: January 31, 2011
Any good? Just a bit. Despite being the sideshow of the 2011 January deadline day he was by no means an extra on the pitch. A goal on his debut coming off the bench against Stoke possibly gave false hope about what Suarez’s early years at the club would bring. Despite causing controversy with some of his on-field antics, there was no questioning the Uruguayan’s ability. In his two final years at the club he scored 61 goals in all competitions, leading the way alongside Daniel Sturridge in the Reds’ title charge of 2013-14. Now plies his trade as the best striker in the world.
Bought on: January 31, 2012
Any good? Meh. Seemed promising at one time and filled a Suso-shaped void in the promising attacking midfielder department among Liverpool fans. Had two loan spells at Brentford and Brighton, the latter proving a success until suffering a broken leg in April. He would make eight appearances in all competitions, most of which came in Klopp’s heavily-rotated Europa League-focused sides towards the back end of last season. He moved to Porto in the summer for under a million pounds and a second thought probably hasn’t been spared, to be honest.
Bought on: January 2, 2013
Any good? Some might tell you otherwise. Well they would now, at least. His goalscoring record tells you all you need to know about his overall contribution to the club. Though injuries have done their level best to blight his time on Merseyside, 59 goals in 108 appearances still represents a great return. His partnership with Suarez in 2013-14 is the undisputed highlight of his Liverpool career, with 21 goals in 29 appearances. Though still highly-regarded by some, he is a much-scrutinised player in the current squad and many believe he isn’t worth the hassle given his injury record and some out-of-sorts performances. I’m not having that, though.
Bought on: January 30, 2013
Any good? Boss, yeah. He had issues with consistency at first and only showed what he was capable of in flashes but he settled in well, striking up a telepathic on-field relationship with fellow January signing Sturridge. The arrival of Klopp has seen Coutinho realise his potential, displaying the magic that everybody expected him to produce on a more regular basis. His vital contribution to the team has come to the fore recently, with Liverpool struggling to perform in his absence. At £8.5m the Brazilian proved that there are bargains to be found in the January market.
Bought on: January 6, 2016
Any good? Yet to realise his potential, but it’s unlikely that many would have expected him to make any kind of immediate impact. Enjoyed a free-scoring pre-season but has struggled to make his mark on the first team since, though he has been ruled out with injury for over a month — during a period in which The Reds had a few injuries to deal with, which could have been his chance to show what he’s got. At 20 years old time is still firmly on his side, hopefully he can still make an impact this season.
Bought on: January 12, 2016
Any good? Think it’s probably fair to say no, in this case. Most famous for being used as a makeshift striker off the bench, due to his aerial ability. Klopp made it clear from the start that he was being brought in due to an injury crisis, so it was no real surprise when he featured in just four minutes of Premier League action. His only start came in a 0-0 draw at home to West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round. There isn’t much else to say, other than that.