If the gossip columns are to be believed, Liverpool are looking to bolster their Premier League title bid with some new additions in the January transfer window. However, this time of year can often prove to be notoriously difficult when it comes to the options available, not to mention some of the over-inflated prices.
According to recent reports, Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho is tipped for a £100 million move to Anfield. However, while former club legend Steve Nicol has suggested the young England international would be a ‘fantastic’ signing, he also raised doubts that Liverpool would be prepared to spend so much, especially given the 19-year-old might struggle to break into the starting eleven initially.
There’s always an element of risk attached to making successful transfer moves, especially mid-way through the season, with Liverpool typically cautious about doing deals beyond the summer. With that in mind, let’ stake a look at how successful (or not) the club has been with previous January transfer signings, over the last decade.
2017-18, Virgil van Dijk
If there’s a prime example of a great January signing, it’s hard to look beyond the impact Virgil van Dijk has made since arriving at Anfield. Arriving for a huge £75,000,000 fee from Southampton in January 2018, the towering Dutchman was an instant hit with the fans, scoring the winning goal against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup on his debut. The missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle for Jurgen Klopp, his solidity and aerial prowess shored up what had been a shaky Liverpool defence.
Now widely considered to be the best central defender in the world, arguably deserving more than second place behind Lionel Messi at the 2019 Ballon d’Or awards, Van Dijk has helped Liverpool become one of the most feared sides in Europe. Given that all the leading betting sites have the Reds installed as firm favourites for the Premier League title this season, the towering Dutchman has been highly influential since his arrival at the club.
2015-16, Marko Grujić
Who? Tipped as a star of the future by former Reds assistant manager Željko Buvač, young Serbian midfielder was signed for £5,100,000 from Red Star Belgrade, despite being chased by a host of top European sides. After returning to them on loan for the remainder of the season, he eventually debuted with the Liverpool first team in August 2016, although he struggled to get more games and made just 5 Premier League appearances during the 2016-17 season.
Following just 3 Premier League outings during the first half of the 2017-18 campaign, Grujić was loaned to Cardiff City for the remainder of the season. Loaned to Hertha Berlin for the entirety of last season, the 23-year-old is now in his second campaign on loan at the German outfit. Despite performing well for a side struggling in the Bundesliga, defensive midfielder Grujić is unlikely to feature in the Klopp’s plans any time soon.
2012-13, Daniel Sturridge
There were undoubtedly a few raised eyebrows when Liverpool signed Sturridge from Chelsea in January 2013, having struggled to make an impact with the London club. Nevertheless, the £12,000,000 price-tag was quickly being hailed as a bargain, when Sturridge scored on his debut in the FA Cup against Mansfield, then left the bench to score again for his Premier League debut with the Reds against Manchester United.
After scoring 10 goals in 14 Premier League appearances to finish the 2012-13 season, Sturridge was superb during the 2013-14 campaign, contributing 21 of the 101 goals Liverpool scored in the Premier League as the Reds were narrowly beaten to the title. Although his impact waned after injuries dropped him down the pecking order, it’s fair to say that Sturridge was an excellent servant to the cause at Anfield, before eventually departing for Trabzonspor last summer.
2012-13, Philppe Coutinho
Signed during the same 2013 January transfer window as Daniel Sturridge, attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho proved to be another shrewd signing by then manager, Brendan Rodgers. Aged 20 when he arrived at Anfield, the young Brazilian had struggled to make an impact at Inter Milan, who needed little convincing to sell him for a low-cost £8.5 million transfer fee. How the Italian club must have regretted that decision afterwards.
During 6 campaigns with Liverpool, Coutinho became a world-class player and hugely popular with supporters, winning the Fans Player of the Season award twice, scoring some absolute bangers amongst his 54 goals in 201 appearances in all competitions. Having already been targeted by Barcelona in the summer of 2017, Coutinho angered Reds fans by the manner of his eventual departure to the Spanish giants, leaving during the 2018 January window. After failing to make an impact at the Camp Nou, he is now on loan at Bayern Munich.
2010-11, Luis Suarez & Andy Carroll
Why have we paired these two together? Well, to finish this list there’s no better example of just how mixed January transfers can be. Having replaced Rafa Benitez in the summer, Roy Hodgson lasted until January when Kenny Dalglish took the managerial helm. Ryan Babel was offloaded, and Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea for a whopping £50,000,000 fee.
Liverpool needed attacking reinforcements and right at the end of the winter transfer window, the club spared no expense in landing two strikers. Andy Carroll was captured for £35,000,000 from Newcastle United, a record outlay at the time for a British player. Adding more bite to the forward line was controversial Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who cost £22,700,000 from Ajax, despite being banned for chomping on the shoulder of an opponent in the Netherlands.
Of the two, while Carroll was a flop and managed just 6 goals in 44 Premier League appearances during his stay at Anfield, before being shipped off to West Ham. By contrast and despite remaining controversial, Suarez became an absolute goal machine for the Reds, scoring 81 goals in 110 Premier League outings. After biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup and receiving a global ban by FIFA, Suarez was lured away to Barcelona.
Looking ahead to the January 2020 transfer window, and with Liverpool linked to several high-profile targets, we can only hope that any new arrivals are a resounding success. Mixed fortunes with signings highlight the difficulty of making good moves in the winter market. However, along with those who didn’t make an impact, over the last ten years, it’s also fair to say that some of the very best signings have joined the Reds in January. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for more of the same!
Written by Alan Spencer
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