Liverpool had to make some expensive signings in recent years to help Jurgen Klopp build a squad that could win the Champions League. However, they’ve also made some astute signings which cost less than £10 million and are key first-team players.
#5. Joel Matip – Free Transfer
Jurgen Klopp’s first signing to bolster the Liverpool first team was Joel Matip on a free transfer in the summer of 2016. He was familiar with Matip during their Bundesliga days and was a big fan of the defender.
“He never played for my team [Borussia Dortmund], he did the extreme opposite – he played for their biggest opponent [Schalke 04]! Maybe that says a lot about his quality. Even when he played for the team you cannot love as Dortmund manager, you see his quality. Then that’s real quality.” – Klopp said after Liverpool confirmed Matip’s signing.
Matip debut season was good but a combination of injuries and the form of the other defenders forced him down the pecking order. At the start of the 2018/19 season, Matip was Liverpool’s fourth choice defender behind Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez. However, long-term injuries to Gomez and Lovren during the festive period gave him an opportunity to cement his place in the starting XI and he did just that.
The 27-year-old formed an impressive partnership with Van Dijk and the duo got better and better as they played together even more. In fact, there were certain games in which Matip was outperformed his partner and Klopp rewarded his impressive form by retaining him in the starting XI even after Gomez and Lovren returned from injuries. He played the full 90 minutes in the 2019 Champions League final and assisted Divock Origi’s goal.
#4. Divock Origi – £10m
Divock Origi rose to fame after scoring for Belgium at the 2014 FIFA World Cup aged 19. Liverpool signed him from Lille after the world cup for only £10m but he only joined Liverpool ahead of the 2015/16 season. Initially, he got very little playing time but once Klopp took over, he was slowly integrated into the squad. In fact, Origi started in Klopp’s first manager as Liverpool manager and struck the post in a 0-0 draw against Spurs.
Despite being a squad player, he racked up 22 goals and six assists in his first two seasons before a disappointing loan spell with Wolfsburg in 2017/18. When Origi returned to Liverpool, there was no place for him in the Liverpool squad and the club were open to selling him but he stayed put.
He had to wait till December for his first Premier League appearance of the season which came against Everton and he scored a last gasp winner which helped him get more opportunities. The highlight of his entire career was scoring a brace against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal to complete a remarkable comeback and he followed it up by scoring a goal in the final as well.
The 24-year-old has 28 goals and seven assists for Liverpool and has an impressive average of a goal or assist every 126 minutes for the Reds despite being a squad player.
#3. Joe Gomez – £3.5m
Liverpool signed seven players in the summer of 2015 and Joe Gomez was arguably the least glamorous of them because he signed from Championship club Charlton Athletic for only £3.5m. However, Gomez impressed in preseason and started the first five Premier League games for Liverpool as a left-back before he picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
It took the youngster over a year to return from the injury and his only three appearances of the 2016/17 season came in the FA Cup. However, Gomez returned strongly in the 2017/18 season as a right-back and featured in 31 games across all competitions before an injury ended his season prematurely.
He started the 2018/19 season as a center-back alongside Virgil van Dijk and before he picked up a serious injury against Burnley in December 2018, he played the full 90 minutes in eleven Premier League games and in those games, Liverpool conceded only four goals while keeping seven clean sheets.
#2. James Milner – Free Transfer
In 2015, Liverpool needed an experienced midfielder to fill the void left by Steven Gerrard and they signed James Milner for free after his contract with Manchester City expired. Initially, there was skepticism about the signing especially because the deal was completed under Brendan Rodgers and Milner was immediately named the vice-captain but now, the veteran is a crowd favourite and an influential member of the dressing room.
Every manager who has worked with Milner has praised his professionalism, fitness level and attitude. In fact, even at the age of 33, Milner dominates the fitness tests at Liverpool.
His versatility is another quality of his which sets him apart and at Liverpool alone, he has played in midfield, on the wings and as a full-back on either side. In fact, he spent the entire 2016/17 season as Liverpool’s first-choice left-back despite being right-footed. He stated that he did not enjoy playing in that role but also said: “It’s about whatever’s best for the team and ultimately I just want to be out there playing games, contributing and helping this football club.”
The Englishman has racked up 22 goals and 36 assists for Liverpool in 177 appearances and has proved to be very reliable from the penalty spot. He also set the record for the most assists in a single Champions League season with nine assists in 17/18.
#1. Andrew Robertson – £8m
In the summer of 2017, Liverpool desperately needed a left-back as James Milner was a limited player in that role. The Reds were linked with a plethora of high-profile names but in the end, they spent £8m on Andy Robertson who was part of the Hull City squad that got relegated in 2016/17.
His transfer raised many eyebrows as pundits and fans alike felt that he was not what the club needed. That belief grew even stronger when he spent the first four months at the club as an understudy to the much-maligned Alberto Moreno. However, after Moreno picked up an injury, Robertson got a run of games and he soon firmly established himself as the club’s first-choice left-back.
In the 2018/19 season, Robertson took his game up a notch and racked up 13 assists in all competitions. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year and the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season in 2018/19 and it’s difficult to name a better left-back than him at the moment.