A club icon who turned down United, the £35m deadline day flop and a Champions League-winning defender… with Liverpool set to sign Darwin Nunez, how did their previous record signings get on?
- Darwin Nunez is set to become one of Liverpool’s most expensive signings
- Liverpool reached an agreement with Benfica for €75m (£64m) plus add-ons
- Therefore, his deal with the Premier League giants could rise to €100m (£85m)
- He will surpass Virgil van Dijk as the most expensive player in the club’s history
- Sportsmail have looked back at the 11 most expensive deals and how the fared
Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is set to join a long list of players who have signed for Liverpool in a high-profile transfer that has consisted of an eye-watering amount of money.
The 22-year-old is close to confirming his deal as Liverpool have reached an agreement with Benfica for €75million (£64m) plus add-ons that could see the fee rise to €100m (£85m).
Should the 22-year-old be announced, he will surpass Virgil van Dijk as the most expensive player in the club’s history – smashing yet another transfer record.
Liverpool have reached an agreement with Benfica over the transfer of Darwin Nunez
The Portuguese giants released a statement confirming the £64m fee which may rise to £85m
Jurgen Klopp previously called out clubs for spending such large sums of money and even said he would retire from management before spending €100 (£85m) on a player.
Klopp criticised the then-world record transfer of Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United for €105m (£89m) six years ago are now being used against him.
The German had said: ‘If you bring one player in for £100m and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney. The day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore, because the game is about playing together.
‘Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players. I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money.’
So, how do these high profile moves tend to work out and how successful have Liverpool previous transactions been? Sportsmail have looked at Liverpool’s 11 most expensive purchases and analysed how they turned out…
Manager Jurgen Klopp once said he would retire before spending around €100 on a player
Kenny Dalglish was just 15 years old when he pulled on a Liverpool shirt for the first time. He was handed a week-long trial at the Merseyside club and featured in his first game for the Liverpool B-team in 1966.
Dalglish got some minutes under his belt for the reserves when they drew 1-0 to Southport in August of that year. The young starlet enjoyed his experience at Liverpool but went on to sign for Celtic soon after.
Having excelled in the Scottish top-flight, Dalglish sought after a new challenge (and a higher pay packet). As a result, he approached Liverpool over a potential deal.
The Merseyside club had just won the European Cup with a 3-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach but looked set to lose several star players. One of particular importance was Kevin Keegan – who agreed to join Hamburg SV.
Manchester Untied had reportedly offered Dalglish more money to move to Old Trafford but the youngster preferred the idea of joining Liverpool.
Manchester Untied had reportedly offered Dalglish more money to move to Old Trafford but the youngster preferred the idea of joining Liverpool
However, Celtic manager Jock Stein made a switch more complicated than Dalglish had hoped. The Scottish boss refused offers of £330,000 and £360,000.
Liverpool then returned with an offer of £400,000 which was also rejected. However, Stein did say he would accept 10 per cent more. As a result, the two clubs settled on £440,000.
The deal between Liverpool and Celtic marked a record transfer fee between two British clubs.
Dalglish made his senior debut for Liverpool on August 13, 1997, when the Reds played against Manchester United in the Charity Shield which finished in a goalless draw.
He went on to make his league debut away to Middlesbrough – with the Liverpool Echo heaping praise on newbie for his contribution. It read: ‘The first goal of the game came appropriately enough from the £440,000 feet of Kenny Dalglish’.
Dalglish made his debut for Liverpool in August 1997 and ended up becoming a club legend
Dalglish continued to excel by scoring in his first four games and register seven wins from 11 fixtures to put them two points behind Nottingham Forest – who were the leaders at the time.
Dalglish also capped off his first season in the club by scoring in the European Cup final. He latched onto Graeme Souness’ through-ball before chipping it over Danish goalkeeper Birger Jensen.
However, it was not always plain sailing for Dalglish. He failed to score in the first nine League games of the 1981-1982 campaign. However, he finally ended an 11 month draught in the League against Brighton on 17 October 1981.
Dalglish was also dropped for the first time in his Liverpool career during the 1984-1985 season when Liverpool faced Tottenham live on Television. Having lost 1-0, Liverpool’s manager at the time Joe Fagan described his decision to leave him out as ‘stupid’ and put him back in the team.
Nevertheless, Dalglish’s campaign at Liverpool was regarded as a success – having been handed the captains armband on occasion.
He also secured nine Champions League trophies, three FA Cup trophies, two League Cup trophies, three European Cup trophies, two UEFA Cup trophies and 11 Charity Shields.
MARK LAWRENSON – £900,000
Previous club: Brighton
Mark Lawrenson was scouted by Brighton while playing for his local team, Preston, in 1997. The club offered Lawrenson £100,000 to sign on the dotted line – beating Liverpool to his services.
Speaking about the transfer race to sign Lawrenson, Former Brighton manager, Alan Mullery, said: ‘We outbid Liverpool to get him. I phoned the Preston manager, Harry Catterick, and he told me Liverpool had offered £75,000.
‘Mark was only 19, but when I told Mike [Bamber – Brighton’s Chairman] he said offer £100,000. Liverpool weren’t prepared to up their bid so we got him and four years later we sold him for a million’.
Brighton sold Lawrenson to Liverpool for a club-record fee for the Merseyside giants
Brighton went on to sell Lawrenson to Liverpool for a club-record fee for the Merseyside club. The transaction also saw Lawrenson become the most expensive defender in Britain at the time.
Lawrenson was known for showing remarkable consistency during his Liverpool career – having been selected as a part of the PFA Team of the Year for four seasons running.
Lawrenson’s trophy collection also included: five League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups and one European Cup. He also scored 18 goals during his 356 appearances.
However, Lawrenson’s career was plagued by injuries. One of the worst came against Wimbledon in 1987 when he ruptured his Achilles tendon. As a result, he was sidelined for five and a half months.
Lawrenson eventually called it time on his Liverpool career in March 1988 and jumped straight into management. He took charge of Oxford in the same week he announced his retirement.
However, he only last seven months at the helm after walking out when they club sold their top-scorer Dean Saunders to Derby.
Lawrenson’s trophy collection also included: five League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups and one European Cup. He also scored 18 goals during his 356 appearances
PETER BEARDSLEY – £1.9m
Previous club: Newcastle
Peter Beardsley’s career didn’t start out quite like the others. He was rejected by a host of top-flight clubs as they didn’t see his potential. Instead he had to hone his skills in the third division with Carlise United.
However, his hard work paid off – having been handed the North East’s Most Promising Newcomer trophy in February 1981.
Beardsley then moved on to Vancouver Whitecaps before joining to his hometown club Newcastle United. The Magpies only paid £150,000 for his services – making a remarkable profit when they sold him on to Liverpool.
The Magpies only paid £150,000 for his services – making a remarkable profit when they sold him on to Liverpool for £1.9m
The Reds were looking to replace Ian Rush and identified Beardsley as their primary target. They were willing to spend over half of the £3.2m to made from Rush’s transfer to Juventus.
As a result, they ended up spending £1.9m on Beardsley – marking another club record transfer fee. However, the striker admitted he would have signed for less.
The Geordie previously said: ‘Kenny was the one who told me to ask for more money when I was negotiating my move to Liverpool. I was going to ask for less than I eventually got.
‘He told me I was the club’s record signing at the time and so I should be asking for wages that reflected that. I would do anything for that man. The man is a genius’.
Liverpool fans were delighted with the signing of Beardsley as he lined up alongside Barnes and Aldridge during the 1987-1988 season.
The Reds went 29 games unbeaten following Beardsley’s arrival. He also scored the title winning goal against Tottenham to secure Liverpool’s top-flight crown.
John Barnes and Peter Beardsley celebrated their League Championship title for 1989-1990 season
That strike marked one of the 18 goals he scored during his debut campaign – with fans raving about the forward’s ability to drop his shoulder and bypass opponents to get in on goal.
However, it wasn’t always plain sailing for Beardsley. He was dropped on several occasions and warmed the bench more often that he would have liked during the 1990-91 season.
But, when called upon, he always performed.
Beardsley also suffered injures such as tearing the ligaments in his ankle during Steve McManaman’s senior debut against Sheffield United in December 1990.
He also fell out of favour under Graeme Souness – with the Scottish manager favouring their new 1991 signing Dean Saunders from Derby County.
As a result, he left the club to join Everton.
DEAN SAUNDERS – £2.9m
Previous club: Derby
Dean Saunders was born with Liverpool blood in his veins as his father Roy used to play as a half-back for the Merseyside club. However, he worked his way through the ranks – featuring for Brighton, Oxford and Derby – before signing for the club.
However, the move to Liverpool did not go as well as he had hoped. He was afforded several opportunities in the first XI but failed to cement himself as a mainstay within the squad.
He struggled to adjust to the club’s style of play and regularly found himself left out of the squad. Derby had a more counter-attacking style of football which suited Saunders’ pace, while Liverpool focused on their passing game.
As a result, Saunders’ struggled to find the back of the net regularly. However, he did excel during the UEFA Cup by scoring nine goals in five matches.
Nevertheless, Liverpool decided to cut their losses with Saunders and sold him after just one full season at the club.
Dean Saunders (left) was born with Liverpool blood in his veins as his father Roy used to play as a half-back for the Merseyside club
STAN COLLYMORE – £8.5m
Previous club: Nottingham Forest
Stan Collymore rose to stardom during his time at Nottingham Forest. The club paid £2.2m for his services and it was worth every penny as he scored 22 league goals.
Collymore went on to represent England in 1995 and a month later he signed for Liverpool for a then British record of £8.5m.
However, Collymore did not have the dream start to his Liverpool career he had hoped for. He only only scored two goals in his first seven games and was pushed further down the pecking order when Rush returned to the team.
Rush and Robbie Fowler developed a formidable partnership up front – causing concern for Collymore. It was not until Rush was ruled out injured after under going a cartilage operation that Collymore got another look in.
Collymore was called up to represent England in 1995 and a month later he signed for Liverpool for a then British record of £8.5m
During that time he managed to find his groove with Fowler. Together they scored a total of 55 goals in the 1995-1996 season. Not bad right?
Well, unfortunately for Collymore, it didn’t last. Liverpool were collectively excelling in 1996 – going top of the table with six wins and two draws – but Collymore had only contributed one goal.
Collymore understood he was struggling and spoke candidly about this situation. He said: ‘I fully admit that my form so far this season could be better. I’m not about to go into the ground and start banging on the manager’s door. Shouting your mouth off about being dropped is a big mistake.
‘If Forest had ever dropped me, I would not have been able to accept or handle the situation. At Anfield, it’s different. There are 25 first-team players at the club, most of them internationals. Nobody has a divine right to selection.
‘I want the manager to know this: There isn’t a single individual on the books who is more determined to be in the line-up than me. Roy Evans left me out three times before, even though I scored in each game prior to being dropped. Each time I bounced back with a goal. I have hit the target in Liverpool’s last three matches. And in case people aren’t getting the message, I believe I am the best partner for Robbie Fowler – over and out! ‘.
However, Collymore was eventually sold to Aston Villa for £7m after failing to reassert his dominance in the team.
However, Collymore was eventually sold to Aston Villa for £7m after failing to impress
EMILE HESKEY – £11m
Previous club: Leicester
Emile Heskey became a household name as a youngster – having made his debut for Leicester City at just 17 years old when they played against Queens Park Rangers in March 1995.
Heskey scored 10 goals in 35 games during the 1996-1997 season and went on to replicate that goal scoring tally in the following season. However, he appeared to be out growing Leicester and his agent hinted at a departure.
Heskey stayed at the club until March 2000, before signing for Liverpool in an £11m deal. He instantly hit the ground running and had one of the best seasons of his career.
Heskey stayed at Leicester until March 2000, before signing for Liverpool in an £11m deal
He scored 22 goals in 56 matches as Liverpool won the historic ‘Treble’. His pace and strength proved to be too much for opposing teams but Reds manager Gerard Houllier still wanted more from his new signing.
He said: ‘He has to keep pressing the pedal because, if he does that, he has great potential and can become a fantastic player. I believe Emile is showing only 50 or 60 per cent of what he can do.
‘All of my forwards have great ability but they all have room for improvement. What can Emile do to improve? Well, at times he should probably have more self-belief and confidence in front of goal. Yes, he has scored 20 goals for us and one goal for England this season. But he has missed a lot of chances as well – it should be more.’
Heskey failed to reach such heights. He experienced another dry spell during the 2001-2002 season – having failed to score more than one goal in 32 appearances.
Thing went from bad to worse for Heskey during the 2002-2003 and the 2003-2004 campaigns. As a result, he was sold to Birmingham City in May 2004.
Thing went from bad to worse for Heskey during the 2002-2003 and the 2003-2004 campaigns. As a result, he was sold to Birmingham City in May 2004
DJIBRIL CISSE – £14.5m
Previous club: Auxerre
Djibril Cisse excelled at Auxerre before joining Liverpool. In the season before his move, he scored 26 goals in 38 games and topped the goal scoring chart for the entire French league.
As a result, Cisse’s total goal tally for his six seasons at the club came to 70 goals in 128 league games before he left for the UK in a deal worth £14.5.
Having been identified by Houllier as their primary target, Cisse was disappointed to hear the Liverpool had left the club by mutual consent prior to his arrival.
The pressure then mounted on Cisse to impress Liverpool’s new boss Rafa Benitez and he appeared to crumble.
Having been identified by Houllier as their primary target, Djibril Cisse was disappointed to hear the Liverpool had left the club by mutual consent prior to his arrival
Cisse said he struggled with the intensity and physicality of the English-top flight and admitted he was finding it hard to adapt.
He said: ‘The game is much faster and more physical than I am used to and I am being singled out for close marking’.
Cisse sustained an injury in his fifteenth game for Liverpool. Having only scored three goals for the club, the French footballer fractured the tibia and fibula of his left leg against Blackburn in 2004.
He was sidelined for six months – with any hope of seeing his name in lights at Anfield slowly fading away.
Cisse returned to action during Liverpool’s Champions League tie against Juventus but failed to prove his worth. He was subsequently used as a substitute for the other nine out of 10 games he played that season.
Cisse struggled to find any consistency in the following season and Liverpool decided to cut their losses with the out of form star.
Things didn’t play out how Cisse had hoped and he was subsequently sold to Marseille in 2007
The Merseyside club were discussing potential deals with Marseille and Lyon but all negations came to a halt when Cisse suffered another double fracture of the tibia and fibula while on international duty for France.
Liverpool eventually agreed a deal with Marseille to take Cisse on loan in 2006. During his temporary spell at the club he scored 15 goals in 25 games.
As a result, Marseille decided to sign him permanently for £6m in 2007.
FERNANDO TORRES – £20.2m
Previous club: Atletico Madrid
Fernando Torres had been on fire when Liverpool entered the transfer race to sign him from Atletico Madrid. He had scored on average every 2.6 games for the LaLiga giants.
As a result, Benitez and Liverpool’s new American owners wasted no time in forking out the cash to bring Torres to Anfield – paying £20.2m for the Spaniard.
He proved his worth by opening his account against Premier League opponents Chelsea and went on score similar goals against Tottenham and Marseille.
Fernando Torres was prolific during his four-year spell at Liverpool between 2007 and 2011 but started to struggle towards the end of his career at Anfield
He also thrived in the second half of the season – scoring 12 times across eight successive home league games.
That period also saw him bag successive hat-tricks against Middlesbrough and West Ham United. Not to mention the fact he also provided the winner in the Merseyside derby with Everton.
However, he went on to have a very stop start career at Liverpool following that. A series of injuries saw him lose his place in the squad and struggle to find the back of the net when he did play.
The striker’s deadline-day £50m move to rivals Chelsea in January 2011 came as a huge shock
Torres eventually left Liverpool to join Chelsea in a controversial transfer. Speaking about his decision to swap red for blue, Torres said: ‘I was really happy at Liverpool but if you remember at that time the club was about to be sold and it was a very difficult situation.
‘They sold all their best players, Javier Mascherano left, Xabi Alonso left, [manager] Rafa Benitez left, and they started bringing in young players so they needed maybe five, six, seven years to create a winning team again and I didn’t have that time because I left my home in Atletico to win trophies.
‘Unfortunately there was many lies by the owners that Liverpool had at that time and in the end I needed to find my own way which was Chelsea who I thought would be the club who would offer me the chance of winning trophies.’
ANDY CARROLL – £35m
Previous club: Newcastle
Andy Carroll established his dominance at Newcastle United – having been handed the iconic No 9 shirt that was previously worn by Jackie Milburn, Malcolm Macdonald and Alan Shearer.
He lived up to expectations by scoring 11 goals in 19 appearances. Carroll’s performances even saw him earn an England call-up to play a friendly against France in November 2010.
Andy Carroll established his dominance at Newcastle United before signing for Liverpool
Liverpool experienced his dominance first-hand when Carroll beat Pepe Reina from distance with a stunning strike. He also played a role in Newcastle’s other two goals as they cruised to a 3-1 victory over the Reds.
As a result, Liverpool were eager to add Carroll to their ranks and paid a whopping £35m for his services. The Merseyside club also revealed the signing of Luis Suarez on the same day.
Carroll had to wait six games until he found the back of the net for Liverpool. His first goal for the club came against Manchester City and took place at Anfield. He then added to his tally just 10 minutes later with a header.
Things went even more downhill for Carroll when Brendan Rodgers took over. He went out on loan during the 2012-2013 season to West Ham and eventually signed permanently
Although, it wasn’t enough to keep the fans happy. The weight of his price tag dragged him down during the season.
Nevertheless, he did score crucial goals in Liverpool’s FA Cup clashes against Everton and Chelsea.
That being said, things went even more downhill for Carroll when Brendan Rodgers took over at the club. The new manager sent Carroll out on loan during the 2012-2013 season to West Ham and eventually signed permanently.
MOHAMED SALAH – £43.9m
Previous club: Roma
Mo Salah signed for Chelsea in January 2014 but failed to make his mark in the Premier League. He was loaned out to Fiorentina for the second half of the 2014-2015 season and later joined Roma on a temporary basis. He signed permanently for the Italian side in 2016.
Salah rediscovered his best form during his time at Roma. He scored 29 goals in 65 league outings. He was praised for his ability to not only find the back of the net, but fire in crosses to his fellow team-mates from those wide areas.
Mo Salah has been leading the line for Liverpool over the last few Premier League seasons
Salah’s form caught the attention of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. The German boss made it his mission to sign Salah and ended up paying a club record fee of £43.9m.
The Egyptian forward did not let Klopp down in his maiden campaign. He scored during his first pre-season game against Wigan and notched 44 goals during the 2017-2018 Premier League season.
That goal tally instantly made him a club legend – registering the second-highest total of any player in Liverpool’s history. He was also voted the PFA Player of the Year, Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year and Premier League Player of the Year.
Salah suffered an uncharacteristic goal drought for Liverpool last term but bounced back to end the season with 23 goals – level with Tottenham striker son – to win the Golden Boot
The individual accolades didn’t stop there. He also earned himself the Premier League Golden Boot after his 32 domestic goals saw him break the record for a 38-game season.
Salah was subsequently rewarded with an new five-year contract in July 2018. He continued to perform over the last few seasons but came under fire during the 2021-2022 campaign.
Salah suffered an uncharacteristic goal drought for Liverpool. Many thought people the Egyptian was off his game because of ongoing contract negotiations.
However, he bounced back to end the season with 23 goals – level with Tottenham’s star striker son. As a result, the pair jointly won the Golden Boot.
VIRGIL VAN DIJK – £75m
Previous club: Southampton
Virgil van Dijk has become one of the best defenders in the world thanks to his development at Liverpool.
He has also established himself as a fan favourite after shoring up their backline.
Van Dijk started every game during the 2018-2019 season and was substituted just once during the Champions League. The only game he missed for the Reds was due to suspension.
Virgil van Dijk has become one of the best defenders in the world thanks to his development at Liverpool
Van Dijk was named the PFA Player of the Year after an impressive 2018-2019 season
The Dutch defender kept 21 clean sheets across 38 league games and prevented a single player from dribbling past him.
He also scored his first goal against Wolves in December before finding the back of the net against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League round of sixteen.
As a result, he was named the PFA Player of the Year. Van Dijk also beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to be voted UEFA Men’s Player of the year for 2019.
The 2020-2021 campaign didn’t go according to plan for Van Dijk as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee after a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford
Additionally, the Liverpool defender was only eight points off Messi when it came to the Ballon d’Or standings in 2019… a feat which he should be proud as only 11 other defenders have ever made the top three.
The 2020-2021 campaign didn’t go according to plan for Van Dijk as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee after a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Van Dijk returned to the squad for the 2021-2022 and picked up where he left off. Liverpool fans were delighted to have him back and it will be interesting to see how far he can take the club in the future.
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