Philippe Coutinho scored a 25-yard cracker, Jordon Ibe made his first-team debut and Liverpool dominated in a 1-0 home victory over relegated QPR.
Even if Jamie Carragher hadn’t announced his retirement, Sunday’s win at Anfield seemed like a perfect match to put an end to a season whose theme has been transition and progress.
But as it happened, Sunday was Carragher’s 737th and final match for Liverpool, adding a touch of symbolism to the season’s final Premier League game as the old made way for the new.
An important summer awaits—and, if recent reports are to be believed, an exciting transfer window too. But before transfer season starts in earnest on July 1, let’s take a look back on the best and worst signings of the season gone by.
Starting with the worst.
Nuri Sahin: An expensive half season
When Liverpool announced the loan capture of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid last summer, heads were turned.
After the infamous wasted spending that blighted Kenny Dalglish’s second reign at Anfield, Sahin seemed to present a new era of transfers: young (23 years old), talented (he won the Bundesliga Player of the Season in 2011, aged just 22) and with experience at two top European clubs, he seemed to represent a new generation of Liverpool players, even if he had only joined on loan.
And it started well, too. By the end of September, he had notched three goals and three assists in a Red shirt, and he was already being linked with a permanent move to Anfield at the end of the season, according to ESPNFC.
Soon, however, Sahin lost his place in Brendan Rodgers’ side. A deep-lying playmaker by trade, he was often played in the No. 10 role behind the strikers, a position that he didn’t enjoy and didn’t want to play in, as reported by the Guardian. The relationship between player and coach soon soured to the extent that the loan deal was terminated prematurely.
By then, the previously ignored financial aspect of the loan deal resurfaced: According to Goal.com, Liverpool paid a £5 million loan fee and promised to cover Sahin’s yearly salary. Even providing for the premature termination, which could have saved the Reds from his second half-year wages (around £1.1 million), Sahin ended up costing a princely £6.1 million to play for a half a season.
Even when compared to the oft-injured and pricey Fabio Borini and the spectacularly faded Joe Allen, both of whom hold long-term contracts at Anfield, that’s bad.
Philippe Coutinho: An exciting bargain
Before we talk about our main man, let’s first pay tribute to the good work that was done in the January transfer window, when the new scouting team, recruited from Manchester City, first got their chance to flex their muscles.
Daniel Sturridge has scored 10 Premier League goals in 11 starts and in truth, was neck-and-neck in the admittedly two-horse race to be named Liverpool’s best signing of the season.
But alas, an £8.5 million Brazilian prodigy is too exciting to pass up for the nomination.
Before Philippe Coutinho first stepped onto the Anfield turf, the question was why Liverpool would want to sign an overhyped youngster that Internazionale were willing to let go for such a low fee.
After he twisted and turned many a Premier League defence inside out, scoring three league goals in the process and becoming Liverpool’s joint-second-highest assister (five) for the season, the question became why Inter even considered selling him at all.
It’s been a few years since Liverpool last had an exciting No. 10—Luis Garcia wore it until 2007, when it was taken over by Andriy Voronin and Joe Cole—but in Coutinho, the Reds might have another gem to add to the list.
Mazy dribbles, powerful shots, mouthwatering through-balls, admirable work rate. With all these qualities to his game, watch out for the 2013-2014 season, when Philippe Coutinho could announce himself as a Premier League force in a Liverpool shirt.