The Summer transfer window – the most exciting three months in the sport for football fans all over the world. Agents leak interest in their client, news outlets run it as an ‘exclusive’ story, fans get excited, the rumour gets passed all over social media sites and then the meltdown amongst the fans commences when the player doesn’t actually sign for the club. Well, that’s the case when you support Liverpool anyway.
It’s safe to say that Liverpool’s transfers of recent haven’t been great at all. You could even say that they’ve been down right poor. Of course there’s been a handful of signings such as Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge, Emre Can and Nathaniel Clyne. But for everyone of those signings there has been an Andy Carroll, an El Hadj-Diouf or an Alberto Aquilani.
This wasn’t always the case with Liverpool though. In the past we’ve signed some phenomenal players and it wasn’t for mega money either. In fact, you could say the club has made some very shrewd signings.
With it coming up to the summer transfer window again I thought it’d be fitting to do a series looking back at some of these signings and evaluate Liverpool’s top summer signings in the Premier League era. Especially when our current manager, Jürgen Klopp, loves to go under the radar and sign players for low fees.
Gary McAllister – Free transfer.
Now a lot of you are probably sitting there thinking Gary Mac? He was good but surely there are better? But just hear me out on this one.
Back in the Summer of 2000 Liverpool signed, at the time, 35-year-old midfielder Scottish midfielder Gary McAllister in a Bosman transfer. Many people at the time questioned the decision to sign a player like this. He had always been a player with great ability, but was obviously coming to the end of his career.
In his time at the club McAllister proved all the doubters wrong and played a vital part in Liverpool’s treble winning season. For the first few months Gary Mac’s spell didn’t seem to be going too well and a red card in a 2-0 loss to Arsenal saw him lose his spot in the team.
The second half of the season was where the Liverpool fans saw the true character, leadership and quality that McAllister possessed. It all started one sunny day in 2001. It was the 164th Merseyside derby and the game was stuck at 2-2 going into the 94th minute. Liverpool had a free-kick 40 yards out, nothing really that threatening. Everyone expected a long ball in to the box but Gary Mac thought differently.
A moment of sheer genius from the Scot and the ball nestled into the bottom corner, Liverpool had won it 2-3. Now, any Liverpool player who scores a winner at Goodison is a bit of a fan favourite, but this one condemned the Blues to a relegation battle. What a hero.
He helped to take the club to two more trophies. An assist for Michael Owens second goal helped turn around a 1 goal deficit and took the Reds to an FA Cup, the second off three trophies. A McAllister penalty at Anfield in the UEFA Cup semi-final vs Barcelona took them too another European final, this time in Dortmund. A game where he assisted three times and got on the score sheet once in the 5-4 win over Alves. Three trophies had come back to Anfield and he was instrumental in the reds finishing 3rd and qualifying for the Champions League for the next season.
Sami Hyypiä – £2.6 Million
Another signing made by French manager Gerard Houllier. The big Fin joined from Dutch side Willem II and was seen to be an unknown player who wouldn’t really live up to any expectations. Despite this, chief-scout and Liverpool legend Ron Yeats described the deal as “one of the best bits of business we’ve done over the years”. Surely a legend like Yeats wouldn’t be wrong, would he?
At the time Liverpool’s defence was really poor, they needed someone who knew how to defend. Sami and Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz were seen as the guys who would change this. The two would go onto form and a solid partnership and were the base of a very strong Liverpool side.
His strengths were obvious from the start. In the air he was a real presence, he could read the game brilliantly and in possession he would never panic. His quality was recognized by Houllier who rewarded him in the 2000-01 season by handing him and Robbie Fowler captaincy duties before making the Finnish international the club captain in 2002.
Unfortunately for him Steven Gerrard was made captain in 2003 but he didn’t moan or grumble, he just upped his performance level.
Hyypiä spent 10 years at the club and had many brilliant moments. Lifting four trophies in 2001, producing a volley that a striker would have been proud of vs Juventus on that incredible run to Istanbul and his header against Arsenal in the 2007 UEFA Champions League are just a few to mention.
Many defenders joined whilst Hyypiä was there but none were ever able to dislodge him from the back four. Even players like Kop favourite Daniel Agger were unsuccessful in their attempts. Saying goodbye to him in 2009 was hard for many Kopites.
The colossal centre-back made 464 appearances for the club scoring 35 goals and winning ten trophies. He was handed numerous personal awards and in the past has feature in lists such as Sky Sports’ “Top 50 Premier League Foreign Players” where he was positioned number 19 as well as coming 38th in Liverpool’s own “100 Players Who Shook The Kop” survey. He battled and fought his way into Liverpool folklore and rightfully so will go down as one of the greatest players to ever grace the Premier League let alone the club.
Featured Image – This is Anfield
Article written by Michael Baddeley – Follow him on Twitter! [email protected]