Is Joel Matip the best free transfer Liverpool have made? The question is asked after he won the PFA Player of the Month award for September.
The Cameroon international has exploded over the past year. He progressed from fourth-choice centre-back to one of the best in the Premier League.
But how does he compare to other great free transfers?
McAllister arrived at Liverpool when he was well into his thirties. Gerard Houllier brought the Scot in to add experience and balance to his midfield – and he did more than just that.
McAllister was integral as Liverpool won a treble in his first season. The highlight was undoubtedly his performance in the UEFA Cup final was he won Man of the Match, with the Golden Goal coming from his free-kick.
Few, if any, players have had such a brilliant, vital short-term impact as McAllister. And he’s been the gold standard of free transfers at Liverpool ever since.
Milner arrived to fill the place in the squad vacated by Steven Gerrard. It doesn’t really get tougher than that.
Four years on, he’s been the ultimate squad player – even playing a season at left-back. Milner has been exactly what Jurgen Klopp wanted in midfield, too. He’s versatile, full of energy, and happy to sacrifice himself. Add to that his fantastic penalty record and you’ve got a hell of a player.
Any team would pay a fortune for Milner. Louis van Gaal even labelled him an ideal example for players recently. To get that for free is remarkable.
No one would have considered Matip for this a year ago. He was fourth-choice, the first on the chopping block if Liverpool wanted anyone new. You wondered how he’d get games.
Now you look back and wonder how Liverpool ever got Matip for free. He was key as the Reds won the Champions League – his performance against Barcelona was sensational.
Now he’s doing similar in the Premier League and, quite honestly, there are few better anywhere right now.
If he keeps it up for the rest of the season, he’ll certainly be the best free transfer Liverpool have made. If he isn’t already.