Greatest Liverpool XI Who Were Only Great Elsewhere

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

Greatest Liverpool XI Who Were Only Great Elsewhere

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    Liverpool have been fortunate enough to have plenty of the world's best players pull on their red shirt in the past, but sometimes this comes with varying degrees of success.

    In most past cases―especially during the Reds' heyday in the 1970s and 80s―a move to Anfield would be the highlight of a footballer's career, and he'd achieve the majority of his success whilst with the Merseyside club.

    There are some cases though in which the Reds haven't quite seen the best of their players, with the club either selling on someone too early or bringing the players in too late in their careers, therefore missing out on the best years.

    So what if you were to create a Greatest Ever Liverpool XI with a difference?

    All of these players had or are having impressive careers but didn't quite enjoy their best years at Anfield:

Honourable Mentions

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    Nicolas Anelka

    The much-travelled French forward enjoyed a loan spell at Anfield in the 2001/02 season, scoring five goals in 22 appearances. Playing for the likes of Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea, a couple of Premier League titles, a Champions League winners' medal and 125 Premier League goals came close to qualifying him for a place in this team, but competition for places upfront is fierce.

    Robbie Keane

    The £20 million signing from Tottenham never settled after joining Liverpool in 2008, lasting just 28 games and scoring seven goals. The Republic of Ireland's all-time record goalscorer sits one place above Anelka on the Premier League's goal list with 126 and is Tottenham's 10th-highest scorer ever with 122 strikes.

    Alberto Aquilani

    Another big-money arrival a year after Keane in 2009, Aquilani was constantly dogged by injuries at the beginning of his Liverpool career, but he made 26 appearances in his first season.

    That would prove to be his only full campaign at the club, though, with the Italian star loaned back to Serie A before a permanent switch to Fiorentina in 2012. With 33 caps for Italy, he may make his country's World Cup squad.

    Nick Barmby

    After a controversial switch across Stanley Park from Everton in 2000, Barmby scored just 16 minutes into his first ever Merseyside derby in red.

    Although he was part of the Reds squad which won the FA, UEFA and League Cups, that goal was pretty much as good as it got for Barmby due to injury. His time at Liverpool came in the middle of spells at Tottenham, Middlesbrough, Everton, Leeds and Hull, whilst he won 23 England caps.

    Tony Hateley

    Bill Shankly made Hateley his record signing when he snapped him up from Chelsea for £96,000 in 1967.

    Despite Hateley scoring 28 goals in his first season at the club, Shankly didn't like the direct way that his team played with the big man in the side, and the the prolific scorer for Notts County and Aston Villa was sold to Coventry after just a year. 

    Once the record holder for combined transfer fees in England, Hateley sadly died earlier this month.

    Dean Saunders

    An English record £2.9 million signing from Derby in 1991, Saunders lasted just a year at Liverpool during which he scored 23 goals, although just 10 in the league. The partnership with Welsh compatriot Ian Rush didn't quite work, and Saunders joined Aston Villa in 1992.

    David Speedie

    Prolific and popular at Chelsea and Coventry, Speedie was brought to the club by Kenny Dalglish in 1991 and immediately hit the ground running with a goal at Old Trafford and two in a Merseyside derby. However, Dalglish soon resigned, and new manager Graeme Souness didn't rate the Scottish forward, selling him to Blackburn after six goals in 12 games.

Goalkeeper: Brad Friedel

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    At Liverpool

    After a work-permit battle, Liverpool were finally allowed to sign goalkeeper Brad Friedel from Columbus Crew in 1997, with the American brought in to challenge David James for the No. 1 spot.

    He occasionally gained it too, but his stints in the Liverpool goal never seemed anything more than temporary, and during one of the less successful periods in the club's history he frequently had plenty of work to do.

    Gerard Houllier signed Sander Westerveld in 1999, and that limited Friedel's chances further, with the American leaving for Blackburn in 2000 after making 31 appearances for the Reds.


    He became part of the furniture at Ewood Park, where he played for eight years and became regarded as one of the best and most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League.

    A £2.5 million move to Aston Villa in 2008 saw the American reach 250 consecutive Premier League games, and he kept up his level of consistency until a free transfer to Tottenham in 2011, where after playing every game in his first season, the 42-year-old is now backup to Hugo Lloris.

Right-Back: Rigobert Song

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    At Liverpool

    Rigobert Song joined from Salernitana in Italy in January 1999, and the Cameroonian quickly became a determined and established member of the Liverpool defence.

    He played 38 times for the Reds during just over a year-and-a-half at the club, most commonly being seen at right-back before a move to West Ham in 2000.


    It isn't so much Song's club career that sees him make it into this team, but more his international recognition.

    With 138 appearances, the defender is comfortably the most-capped player in Cameroon's history, and he shares a World Cup record with Zinedine Zidane as the only player to be sent off twice at the tournament.

    He won two Turkish league titles with Galatasaray as well as two Africa Cup of Nations crowns. 

Centre-Back: Mauricio Pellegrino

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    At Liverpool

    As the Reds chased Champions League glory in 2005, Rafael Benitez brought in his former Valencia charge Mauricio Pellegrino on a short-term deal in order to give Sami Hyypia a rest between European games.

    The Argentinean defender wasn't always solid during his 13 appearances but did deliver a good performance in a Merseyside derby victory at Anfield.

    He left that summer but returned as Benitez's first-team coach in 2008.


    A Copa Libertadores winner with Velez Sarsfield, Pellegrino had a brief spell at Barcelona before joining Valencia in 1999.

    He was part of the team which reached Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, missing the decisive penalty in a shootout against Bayern in the latter. However, he recovered to win two La Liga titles under Benitez in 2002 and 2004. 

Centre-Back: Gabriel Paletta

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    At Liverpool

    After joining from Argentinean club Banfield as a 20-year-old in 2006, central defender Gabriel Paletta found himself in over his head a little at Liverpool.

    He would make just eight appearances for the club, scoring on his debut against Reading in the League Cup, but the pace of the English game never really suited him, and he left for Boca Juniors in 2007.


    Three years of regular football at Boca seemed to get Paletta in the mood for another crack at Europe, and he joined Serie A outfit Parma in the summer of 2010.

    He's been a hit at the Italian club virtually ever since, becoming a solid and dependable defender the older he's become. Now 28 and arguably in his prime, the website values Paletta at £7 million, £5 million more than he was during his time at Anfield.

Left-Back: Christian Ziege

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    At Liverpool

    A protracted pursuit of the German international Christian Ziege eventually led to Gerard Houllier snapping him up from Middlesbrough in 2000.

    Ziege was part of the squad which won the League Cup that season―scoring in the penalty shootout in the final against Birmingham―but he was injured for both the FA and UEFA Cup final successes.

    He played 32 times for the Reds over the campaign, scoring twice, but the arrival of John Arne Riise in 2001 led to him leaving for Tottenham.


    Part of the German squad which won Euro 96, Ziege won two Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Cup with Bayern Munich before picking up a Serie A winners' medal with AC Milan in 1999.

    His surprise year at Middlesbrough led to the Liverpool switch, whilst at Tottenham he was part of the Germany team which reached the final of the 2002 World Cup―with Ziege appearing for the final six minutes of the 2-0 loss to Brazil in the showpiece.

Midfield: Paul Ince

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    At Liverpool

    Widely hailed as the much-heralded "missing piece of the jigsaw" which would allow Liverpool to become more competitive in midfield ahead of the 1997/98 season, Paul Ince made the surprise move to the Reds from Inter Milan.

    The former Manchester United man was immediately installed as the captain of the side upon his arrival, but this was a Liverpool side struggling to adapt to the modern pressures of football, and it was unable to mount a challenge for any trophies.

    Ince's high point at Anfield arrived with a late equaliser in front of the Kop against former club United in 1999, one of his 17 goals for the Reds. But with Gerard Houllier having spotted the emergence of a young Steven Gerrard, Ince left for Middlesbrough that summer. 


    After making a controversial move from West Ham to Manchester United in 1989, Ince won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the European Cup Winners' Cup at Old Trafford before a move to Inter Milan in 1995.

    He impressed in Italy before his move to Anfield, before later moves to Middlesbrough and Wolves.

    Ince won 53 caps for England and was a member of the team which reached the semi-finals of Euro 96 and qualified for the 1998 World Cup.

Midfield: Nuri Sahin

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    At Liverpool

    Hailed as the loan signing that would help Liverpool scale the heights during Brendan Rodgers' first season in charge at Anfield, things didn't quite work for Nuri Sahin there.

    The Reds beat Arsenal to the signature of the talented Turk from Real Madrid in 2012, but injury problems had plagued the midfielder the previous season, and he never quite looked comfortable in the Premier League as he worked his way back to fitness.

    Sahin scored twice in a League Cup win at West Brom and then again in a 5-2 Premier League success at Norwich, but his loan spell was cut short in January 2013 after just 12 appearances and those three goals.


    After emerging at Borussia Dortmund in 2005, Sahin took up a key role at the German side under the managerial reign of the charismatic Jurgen Klopp.

    After a successful loan spell at Feyenoord, the midfielder was voted as the Bundesliga's Player of the Season as Dortmund won the title in 2010/11, a feat which led to his switch to Real Madrid that summer.

    However, those injury problems soon took hold at the Bernabeu, but after he returned from Liverpool he was loaned back to Dortmund, where he played in last season's Champions League final and is currently a key part of the side.

Midfield: Boudewijn Zenden

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    At Liverpool

    Boudewijn "Bolo" Zenden joined the then European champions when he moved to Anfield on a free transfer from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2005, but he featured just seven times in the Premier League in his first season before a cruciate ligament injury ended his campaign.

    Many thought that that would be the end of the experienced Dutchman, but the departure of Dietmar Hamann the following summer meant that Rafael Benitez kept him on for another year. And Zenden played a surprisingly key role as Liverpool reached the Champions League final in 2007.

    The midfielder featured 11 times in the competition, scoring a penalty in the semi-final shootout win over Chelsea and starting the final defeat to AC Milan in Athens, which proved to be his final appearance for the club.


    Four successful seasons at PSV Eindhoven saw Zenden burst onto the scene as a young, exciting winger, and he was part of the Netherlands squad which reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.

    That led to a switch to Barcelona, where Zenden won the La Liga title in his first season and stayed for two more before a £7.5 million move to ambitious Chelsea in 2001. He would play there for two years before joining Middlesbrough on loan, scoring the winning goal in the League Cup final against Bolton as Boro won their first ever trophy.

    He was named Middlesbrough's Player of the Year in 2005 after signing his one-year permanent deal, before later moves to Marseille and Sunderland after his spell at Anfield.

    He won 54 caps for the Netherlands, reaching the last four of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

Attack: Jari Litmanen

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    At Liverpool

    Finnish legend Jari Litmanen was a good player for Liverpool, but unfortunately for the Reds he joined the club too late.

    Signed by Gerard Houllier aged 29 in 2001 as Liverpool were chasing glory on three fronts, Litmanen provided striking support to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Emile Heskey, but injuries too often took their toll and forced him to miss big matches.

    The addition of Champions League football in 2001/02 saw him feature more often, and after scoring a stunning winner in a Premier League match against Tottenham, Litmanen scored a penalty as the Reds beat Roma 2-0 to secure qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals.

    Once there they lost 5-3 on aggregate to Bayer Leverkusen despite another Litmanen goal, one of nine he scored for the club in 43 matches.


    After emerging in Finland, it was Litmanen's move to Ajax in 1992 that saw him established as one of the most gifted players in Europe.

    One of the stars of Louis van Gaal's famous Ajax side which won four Dutch titles and reached back-to-back Champions League finals, winning one, van Gaal took Litmanen to Barcelona in 1999.

    He stayed for two years before the move to Liverpool, from where he rejoined Ajax in 2002 before a series of later moves.

    Capped 137 times for Finland, Litmanen is widely regarded as the greatest player to have emerged from his country.

Attack: Karl-Heinz Riedle

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    At Liverpool

    Karl-Heinz Riedle had just scored twice in the Champions League final when he joined Liverpool from Borussia Dortmund in 1997.

    The experienced German, then 31, had been signed as an attacking foil for Robbie Fowler, but the impact made by the teenage Michael Owen meant that he was often left on the sidelines and overlooked in favour of the youngster.

    He managed 15 goals in 76 appearances for Liverpool, including two late strikes as the Reds came from 2-0 down to beat Newcastle 4-2 in December 1998, before leaving for a spell at Fulham.


    Riedle was one of the more prolific forwards in European football between 1987 and 1997, when he fired in goals for Werder Bremen, Lazio and Borussia Dortmund.

    He won the Bundesliga with the former and featured in four matches as West Germany won the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

    With Germany unified, the 42-times capped Riedle was part of the squad which reached the final of Euro 92, where he was joint top scorer.

    A move back to Germany with Dortmund followed, and Riedle brought his spell there to an end by scoring two goals in the first half of the 1997 Champions League final as the Black and Yellows beat Juventus 3-1 in Munich.

Attack: Fernando Morientes

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    At Liverpool

    With Djibril Cisse having broken his leg and Milan Baros struggling with injury, Liverpool were struggling for forward reinforcements in January 2005.

    That led to Rafael Benitez bringing in 29-year-old Spanish international Fernando Morientes from Real Madrid, but the forward was ineligible for the Reds' glorious Champions League run that season.

    He scored three times in the Premier League in his first half-season but added just five league strikes in the entirety of the following campaign, including a double strike in a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

    Although capable of several flashes of quality, Morientes largely disappointed during his time on Merseyside, although he did play a part in the FA Cup final victory over West Ham in 2006 before leaving for Valencia.


    Morientes emerged at Albacete, with goals both there and at Real Zaragoza leading to his move to Real Madrid in 1997.

    The forward scored 90 goals in the following five years at the Bernabeu, years during which Real won the Champions League three times―with Morientes grabbing the first goal in a 3-0 win over Valencia in the Paris final of 2000.

    Real allowed Morientes to go out on loan to Monaco for the 2003/04 season, with the forward scoring a tournament-high nine times―including at home and away to Real―as the Ligue 1 side reached the Champions League final, where it lost to Monaco.

    Following the Liverpool move he picked up more trophies at Valencia and Marseille, whilst his record of 27 goals in 47 Spain appearances is the fifth best in his country's history and included strikes at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups as well as Euro 2004.