Liverpool’s summer recruitment drive is well and truly underway as Jurgen Klopp looks to build on his success during his first season with the Reds. Liverpool were quick to conclude their business as they captured the signatures of Joel Matip, Marko Grujic and Loris Karius on cut-price deals.
Klopp decided to splash £34m to bring Southampton winger Sadio Mane to Anfield and around £25m to bring Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle to Merseyside. Such moves have been funded by selling Jordon Ibe, Martin Skrtel, Brad Smith, Joe Allen and Sergi Canos.
Liverpool managers in the past have come under intense criticism for their transfer dealings. Brendan Rodgers oversaw the arrival of major flops such as Mario Balotelli, Iago Aspas, and Fabio Borini as well as Christian Benteke. Kenny Dalglish’s tenure saw Liverpool break their transfer record to sign Andy Carroll for £35m as spending £20m on Stewart Downing.
Over the years, Liverpool have also missed out on a number of high-profile players that could well have represented the Reds if things had panned out differently.
We take a look at ten players that Liverpool nearly signed in seasons gone by…
World Cup winner Mario Gotze was a long-term target for Liverpool all summer as fans dreamt of a reunion with Klopp following their success at Borussia Dortmund. Unfortunately, the German seemingly rejected a move to Merseyside to fight for his place under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich only to later accept a move back to Borussia Dortmund.
Gotze could have become a Liverpool player back in 2012 when Dalglish was manager of the club. Reports suggest that the playmaker was a target for Liverpool but the Scot preferred Jordan Henderson who arrived from Sunderland for £20m. Reports also suggested that Dalglish may have chosen Henderson due to pressure to sign British players. Gotze moved to Bayern from Dortmund for around £38m soon after whilst Henderson has gone on to become club captain at Anfield.
Former Bayern Munich striker, Mario Gomez, also nearly signed for Liverpool back in 2011. Following the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50m, the Reds had a bid worth up to £30m rejected by the German club. At the time, Gomez was the Bundesliga top scorer with 16 goals by January.
Liverpool ended up signing Carroll on deadline day as Gomez went on to lift the Bundesliga title. The Reds later rekindled their interest in Gomez and the Germans were willing to allow the forward to join on a season-long loan. However, the Fiorentina striker’s £125,000 per week wage demands scuppered any potential deal.
Liverpool also missed out on one of the world’s best right-backs in 2006 as a deal to sign Daniel Alves fell through. Rafael Benitez targeted the Brazilian who had agreed personal terms to join the Reds. However, Sevilla felt that the £7m offer was too low.
Benitez subsequently pulled the plug on the deal and moved for Alvaro Arbeloa instead. Alves went on to become on the best in the world and was signed by Barcelona for over £30m just two years later. Liverpool may not have had to suffer the pain of watching Glen Johnson had Benitez been willing to fork out an extra few millions to secure the signature of Alves.
Benitez also turned down the chance to sign world-class striker, Sergio Aguero. The Spaniard has revealed that during his time with Independiete, Liverpool were offered the chance to complete a deal for the young Argentine. Liverpool turned down the offer and Atletico Madrid swooped with a bid of around £20m.
The forward blossomed into one of the best strikers in the world during his time in Spain and eventually moved to Manchester City for almost £40m in 2011.
Tottenham midfielder, Dele Alli, was one of the stand-out performers in the Premier League this season. The England international proved a shrewd piece of business by the Lilywhites as it took just £5m to secure his services from MK Dons. Alli is still only 19 and has the potential to be one of the country’s top midfielders.
Things could have been different as Brendan Rodgers revealed his frustration that Liverpool were not able to close a deal for the youngster. With a fee agreed with MK Dons, Liverpool were unable to secure a deal for Alli as Fenway Sports Group would not offer a contract over £4,000 per week. Tottenham quickly picked up the pieces and the deal was done.
Liverpool also nearly completed a deal for Chelsea forward Diego Costa back in 2013. Arsenal had triggered Luis Suarez’s minimum fee release clause of £40,000,000 by offering just £1 over the necessary amount of money. If Suarez did depart the club, Liverpool aimed to bring Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid as his replacement and triggered the Spaniard’s £21m release clause.
Costa had other ideas as he signed a new contract to stay at Atletico and went on to enjoy a fine season in La Liga which earned him a £31m move to Chelsea. He later revealed that Jose Mourinho had managed to persuade the controversial striker to move to Stamford Bridge as Didier Drogba’s replacement.
Former Manchester United captain defender, Nemanja Vidic, could have also been wearing a different redshirt if Benitez had decided to sign the centre-back before he joined Manchester United from Spartak Moscow.
Jamie Carragher revealed that Liverpool turned down the chance to sign the experienced defender which proved a big mistake for the Reds. Vidic went onto to enjoy a trophy-laden spell with the Red Devils and made 300 appearances at Old Trafford.
Former Swansea manager and Danish international, Michael Laudrup, almost became a Liverpool player back in 1983. Laudrup was set to join the Reds from Brondby and had agreed to a three-year-deal with Liverpool.
However, Liverpool wanted to add another year to the agreed contract which led to the move collapsing. Laudrup eventually moved to Juventus and went on to win major honours with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Ajax. Laudrup also admitted that Liverpool was his boyhood club when he was a child in Denmark
Former Benfica winger was another player who came close to joining Liverpool on more than one occasion. Back in 2005, Simao was made Liverpool’s top target as they looked to retain their Champions League crown. The Reds had agreed a £10m deal to bring the former Barcelona winger to Merseyside only for the Portuguese club to pull out of the deal at the last moment.
Simao continued to reveal his ambitions to play in the Premier League and the Reds rekindled their interest in the January transfer window but would not match the £12m valuation placed by the Portuguese club and the move never materialised. Simao went on to score a sensational goal which knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League.
It is hard to believe that Cristiano Ronaldo could have been a Liverpool player back in 2003. Gerard Houllier admitted to keeping tabs on the young 18-year-old winger during his time with Sporting Lisbon with a view to bringing Ronaldo to England. Unfortunately, the Frenchman was unable to convince the club to put together a big-money deal to bring the youngster to Anfield.
Instead, he signed for Manchester United in a deal worth around £12m as Sir Alex Ferguson believed he had the potential to be special. Ronaldo went on to become one of the world’s greatest players and delivered domestic and European success to the Red Devils. He later joined Real Madrid for a world-record £80m and has cemented his name in the football history books.
Liverpool may well have added to their 18 league titles if they had taken a chance on a young Portuguese winger from Madeira.