Liverpool’s transfer surprises that turned into masterstrokes

Rich Bauer
Read Time:6 Minute, 43 Second

Sometimes, transfers can raise a few eyebrows and cause a few surprises. Here, Rich Bauer takes a look at few surprising Liverpool transfers that went on to be huge successes.

“Who the hell are these guys?”

It is a confession. I do not know who most signings are before they put on a Liverpool shirt. I have no shame. I just plead ignorance.

I simply can not watch that much European club soccer. If I am to be brutally honest, I should cut back on the amount of hours I already commit to watching Liverpool, the EPL, the Champions League, the Europa League as well as scattered headline matchups in other elite domestic leagues.

I could even throw in some level of increased awareness about all the players in the world thanks to the FIFA video game giving me yearly updates.

All this is to say that I did not know what was building at Merseyside as the current roster was filled out over the last 10 years. For example…

Jordan Henderson

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Did I really think the 21-year-old midfielder bought from Sunderland for 20 million pounds was the physical and spiritual replacement for Steven Gerrard? Of course not.

No one did because I do not remember seeing a single match that Henderson played for Sunderland.

This era of Liverpool signings was filled with disappointments that did not last more than three seasons.

No single player embodies the struggle and rise to greatness more than the current captain. Did not see that coming.

Gini Wijnaldum

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4 goals in one EPL game for a team that got relegated? 25 million pounds?

It is a lesson that has born lots of fruit. Trust the Klopp era. Gini was one of the first signings Liverpool made under Klopp.

Klopp saw Wijnaldum for what he could be and not just what he was. Even my singular awareness of one 10/10 performance from Gini did not inform me about the vital cog he would provide in the seasons to come.

Did not see that coming.

Virgil van Dijk

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The rumors rang out for seemingly a year and a half. Even if that is factually incorrect, that is what it felt like.

All Liverpool buying a defender rumors started and ended with Big Virg during that time.

Coming from Southampton meant I was aware of him based on how many times Liverpool had bought a player from that club through the years.

I did not find myself going out of my way to catch any mid-week Southampton matches.

Setting the new standard for transfer money spent on a defender at 75 million pounds means only one thing.

He better become the best defender in the world. He did. Did not see that coming.

Alisson Becker

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67 million pounds for the guy Liverpool put seven goals past in two matches? This is the savior?

It was almost 10 years since the last world class keeper wore the number one for the Reds.

Surely all clubs had overcharged any Liverpool keeper signing coming off the back of the Loris Karius downfall in the Champions League final of 2018.

Karius had a bad game, not a bad season. It felt like an excessive over correction. It was not.

For my money, Alisson was the reason that Liverpool squad went back to the 2019 Champions League final and won it.

The save against Milik in the Napoli group stage match. The multiple saves against Barcelona in the unforgettable second leg at Anfield that needed a clean sheet.

The final 20 minutes of the final against Tottenham. Worth every single pound.

Did not see that coming.

Mohamed Salah

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The Chelsea washout? He was on the side for that damn Gerrard slip match, right?

He is fast and all and seems fun to use on the FIFA video game.

I thought Liverpool had enough attackers at the time.

37 million pounds can now be tripled if he was sold this very moment. Not that it will ever happen.

More so than any other player in the Liverpool rise to the top, Mo Salah is the face of the franchise.

He is the player kids will grow up watching and wanting to be when they grow up.

His debut season will always be historic in England and for Liverpool.

I still can picture that “Never Give Up” shirt he wore during the Barcelona comeback. He is a Liverpool icon. Did not see that coming.

Sadio Mane

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I remember the fastest hat trick in EPL history. I remember the comeback he led against Liverpool by scoring two goals against the Reds.

We signed him from Southampton. He checks all the boxes.

Sometimes, in football, seeing is believing.

European clubs have a long history of playing against a great player, getting thrashed by him and simply buying him to avoid having to ever play against him again.

The first full Klopp era season that ended in a fourth place finish in the EPL by one point, thus guaranteeing Champions League qualification, is on the shoulders of Sadio Mane.

It may be the most important thing he has ever accomplished for the Reds and his now very memorable life at Liverpool.

Did not see that coming.

Thiago Alcantara

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25 million pounds. Twice. Barcelona to Bayern Munich. Bayern to Liverpool.

Thiago should be a player I had seen over the past 10 years and known of his quality and skills.

I did not. He was just there, but this all speaks to the heart of my ignorance.

I can watch his skills highlights. I can watch his run to the 2020 Champions League title with Bayern.

But a year ago today I would not have had the thought that there is one player Liverpool could really use right now. Thiago.

It is only now that I can find quotes from Pep Guardiola that there was validity to him bringing Thiago with him to Bayern.

The smartest people in the world of football know better than me.

My fan driven ironic thought is looking back and wondering how on Earth Barcelona had the evolutionary replacement for Xavi and Andres Iniesta at the club and they let him get away.

I guess Barcelona was like me in that instance. Did not see that coming.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

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I share a LeBron James story now to aid in my explaining of why Trent Alexander-Arnold was always destined to fly under my fan radar.

I watched LeBron play basketball when he was a teenager back in the early 2000s.

It was a newer concept 15-20 years ago to show High School athletes on a national TV stage.

I attended the first professional game LeBron James played in the NBA at the home of the Sacramento Kings.

Anyone in the building that day all saw it coming. I am sure tons of Liverpool fans have a similar story when they talk of seeing Trent for the first time in his youth career stages.

I simply did not have any access to any of those games to be able to share how the talent shone despite the age.

I did not attend the first professional match of Trent Alexander-Arnold. I, very literally, did not see that coming.

These stories can go on and on through the years of my following Liverpool.

I was more excited for Andy Carroll than Luis Suarez. I really wanted Mario Balotelli to be a thing, but that was simply an exposure bias on my part.

I am just a fan. I make fan-based judgements and decisions. I run hot and cold on players based on recency.

I can only make statements based on the information I have at that moment. Sometimes I am wrong, sometimes I am right.

I do know who the hell these guys are now. Champions of England.

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