From Mario Balotelli to Dejan Lovren… Liverpool made some terrible signings under Brendan Rodgers

Once upon a time, Liverpool were a laughing stock in the transfer market.

It’s hard to believe now as manager Jurgen Klopp and the club’s sporting director Michael Edwards have worked together excellently at recruiting the right players to make Liverpool one of the best clubs in the world.

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The less said about Liverpool’s business under Brendan Rodgers, the better…
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However, pre-Klopp and Edwards, Liverpool’s signings were very hit and miss, with a huge emphasis on miss.

Rafael Benitez made a number of duff signings, most notably making Alberto Aquilani as Xabi Alonso’s replacement, forking out just shy of £20million for the injury-prone Italian.

Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish also made a few bad signings but weren’t in charge of Liverpool long enough for the embarrassment to really set in.

Brendan Rodgers made some good signings including Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino but there were many more terrible signings.

It should be pointed out that Rodgers was dealt a bad hand in terms of transfers as he would have to go through Liverpool’s transfer committee, so the Northern Irishman can’t be given all the blame for it.

Nevertheless, a lot of dud deals happened on his watch and talkSPORT.com has managed to create an XI of bad Rodgers signings at Liverpool, which is good going considering he was only manager for three-and-a-half years.

Goalkeeper – Adam Bogdan

Signed to be the understudy of the unreliable Simon Mignolet, Bogdan arrived at Anfield having previously spent eight years at Bolton.

The Hungarian arrived in June 2015 on a free transfer when Rodgers was a few months away from getting the sack so you wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t his signing.

Bogdan got a few opportunities under Rodgers’ replacement Klopp but mistakes in a Premier League defeat at Watford and in an FA Cup tie which saw League Two Exeter score directly from a corner.

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Bogdan never had the confidence of the Liverpool players when playing in goal
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No surprise that Bogdan was sent on loan the following season before being released at the end of last season.

Right-back: Javier Manquillo

Following the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Liverpool used the £75million they received to sign NINE new players in the summer of 2014.

Most of them were poor signings but one that may have escaped your mind is Manquillo, who joined on a two-year loan deal with an option to buy from Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool made no effort to keep him on after the first season though. It wasn’t that the Spaniard was particularly bad, he just did nothing of note in his 19 appearances for the Reds.

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Manquillo was pretty anonymous in his time at Liverpool
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Manquillo is now at Newcastle where he’s been since 2017 but his current deal expires in June.

Centre-back: Dejan Lovren

But when you think about the bad signings made from the Suarez money, most people immediately think of Lovren.

He arrived from Southampton with plenty of pedigree but looked totally out of his depth at Anfield and made many costly errors under Rodgers.

Lovren did get better under Klopp though and Liverpool fans will always have a soft spot for him for his heroic winner in a Europa League quarter-final triumph over Borussia Dortmund back in 2016.

The Croatia international is still at Liverpool now but is lower than Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip in the pecking order and will probably leave when his contract runs out in the summer.

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Lovren will always have that moment against Dortmund in April 2016 though
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Centre-back: Tiago Ilori

‘Who?’ you might ask but there was excitement at Anfield when Portugal youth star Ilori arrived in September 2013.

It was a great season for Liverpool as they nearly won the league but Ilori didn’t feature for the Reds, or in any Premier League season for that matter. He only made three senior appearances for the Reds, all of them coming in the FA Cup.

Ilori has since returned to Sporting Lisbon, where Liverpool signed him from.

He’s never played for Portugal at senior level and is actually still eligible to play for England as he was born in London and has an English father. It’s unlikely Ilori will get the call from Gareth Southgate for Euro 2020 next summer, however.

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Ilori made just three senior Liverpool appearances

Left-back: Alberto Moreno

Frankly, it’s a miracle Moreno lasted five years at Liverpool and made over 140 appearances. He scored a nice goal against Tottenham early on in his Liverpool career but that was as good as it got for the Spaniard, who will be remembered for his erratic nature and incompetent defending.

Kopites officially ran out of patience for the full-back after his disastrous performance in the 2016 Europa League final, Liverpool losing 3-1 to Sevilla with Moreno responsible for two of the LaLiga side’s goals. Moreno was out of the team when Andy Robertson started to settle in at Anfield though.

Moreno does have a Champions League winners’ medal despite playing for just eight minutes of Liverpool’s campaign in Europe last season.

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Moreno is now at Villarreal

Three days after the triumph in Madrid it was announced Liverpool would not be renewing Moreno’s contract. Klopp actually described Moreno as a ‘remarkable player’ at the time so may have been still drunk from the parade back on Merseyside…

Centre midfield: Luis Alberto

Another player you may have completely forgotten played for Liverpool is Spaniard Alberto, who arrived in the summer of 2013 for £7million.

It was £7m down the drain – the attacking midfielder making just nine Premier League appearances in three years as  Liverpool player.

Like Manquillo, there aren’t any bad performances that spring to mind but Alberto simply wasn’t good enough at the time.

He’s at Serie A high-flyers Lazio now where he’s getting decent game time, making 25 league appearances this term.

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Alberto was out of his depth at Liverpool but has since grown into a decent player

Centre midfield: Nuri Sahin

Klopp actually semi-called out Rodgers for playing Germany international Sahin out of position in his brief loan spell from Real Madrid at Anfield.

In an interview with the BBC, the then-Dortmund manager said Sahin was better in defensive midfield but Rodgers decided to play him on the left of a midfield three in the first half of the 2012/13 season.

Sahin’s season-long spell came to an abrupt halt halfway through the campaign with just seven Premier League appearances under his belt. A missed opportunity, perhaps.

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Maybe things would have been different had Klopp managed Sahin at Liverpool
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Left midfield: Victor Moses

It seemed unthinkable for Chelsea to let a decent player in Moses play for rivals Liverpool on loan in the 2013/14 season. However, any concerned Chelsea fans needn’t have worried as Moses really struggled to make an impact in a season on Merseyside.

Moses scored on his Reds debut, a well-placed finish at Swansea but that was his only goal for Liverpool.

Those slightly more obsessive Kopites will remember Moses essentially missing an open goal with a fresh air shot on that infamous ‘Crystanbul’ night where Liverpool blew a 3-0 lead to draw at Crystal Palace.

It was 3-3 when Moses missed but if that went in they would have won the match and maybe, just maybe, Liverpool could have lifted the title that season…

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It’s unfair to suggest Moses lost Liverpool the league but he really should have buried that chance at Palace
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Right midfield: Lazar Markovic

Another terrible signing from the summer of 2014 but Markovic wasn’t too bad in his first season at Anfield, showing glimpses of the brilliance he had shown at Benfica.

He never featured for Liverpool’s senior squad after 2014/15 and was sent out on loan the following campaign.

Klopp had no desire to keep Markovic but Liverpool simply couldn’t shift him despite sending him out on loan to FOUR different clubs.

He finally left Liverpool in January 2019. Fulham signed him and then let him go to Partizan Belgrade last summer.

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Markovic very much outstayed his welcome at Liverpool
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Striker: Mario Balotelli

Rodgers was asked what Balotelli would bring to the squad shortly after Liverpool paid AC Milan £18m for the striker.

The ex-Liverpool boss replied: “Trouble!” It was met with laughter at the time but Rodgers wouldn’t have been laughing if he could see into the future.

Balotelli never got going at Liverpool, scoring just one Premier League goal for the Reds and he was sold to French club Nice in 2016.

The Italian’s attitude and application has always been a problem so in hindsight it seems an insane decision by the powers that be at Liverpool to have signed him in the first place.

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Balotelli was often guilty of shirking team responsibilities at Liverpool

Striker: Christian Benteke

This signing always felt like a desperate roll of the dice by an increasingly desperate Liverpool, who forked out £32.5m for the big Belgian in 2015.

It didn’t make much sense for Liverpool to buy a target man when Rodgers signings tended to be smaller players who had a natural ability on the ball.

And it was unsurprisingly a bit of a car crash with games passing Benteke by. He wasn’t rated by Klopp either so Benteke joined Crystal Palace a year later.

Benteke left Liverpool having only scored ten goals and his form has been nothing short of dreadful in recent seasons, scoring just five times since the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign.

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Benteke was never going to fit in at Liverpool
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This XI would give any Liverpool fan nightmares

Substitutes

Unfortunately for Liverpool, that XI does not provide an exhaustive list of the club’s bad signings under Rodgers, so honourable mentions must go to Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi Iago Aspas.

Give COVID-19 the red card

The quicker we work together to stop coronavirus spreading, the sooner we can get back into the pubs, the gyms and stadiums and arenas to see live sport again…

STAY AT HOME. Only leave for the following purposes:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
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  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary

For more info and tips, visit the NHS website.

The government has also issued further detail on what we can do during lockdown.

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.


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