Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Matt Ladson
James Milners man-of-the-match display on the opening day got This Is Anfields Matt Ladson thinking of more inspired Reds deals, from fine freebies to the player Liverpool made over 130m profit on

James Milner (free)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

The veteran midfielder Milner is enjoying a renaissance at Liverpool of late, despite turning 33 later this season. The former Newcastle, Aston Villa and Manchester City man arrived at Anfield on a free transfer in 2015, having seemingly been persuaded by the promise of a central role under then-manager Brendan Rodgers.

A year later, Rodgers had left and Milner’s versatility and professionalism led to Jurgen Klopp asking him if he'd become the Reds’ left-back for the season – a role he has admitted he didn’t like doing, but did to the best of his ability.

Now, with Andy Robertson firmly established on the left of Liverpool’s defence, Milner has forced his way into Klopp’s midfield and is shining in the central role he has craved throughout his career. As he closes in on his 100th league appearance for the Merseysiders, Milner is thriving in his twilight years.

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Sami Hyypia (£2.5m)

Sami Hyypia
Sami Hyypia

Liverpool may currently have the world’s most expensive defender among their ranks after splashing £75m on Virgil van Dijk in January, but the Reds’ best defender of the Premier League era cost a snip of that.

Sami Hyypia arrived as part of a massive defensive overhaul under Gerard Houllier in 1999, signing for £2.5 million from Willem II - incredibly, after being recommended to the club by a Finnish cameraman.

The centre-back went on to become the fulcrum of Houllier’s defence as the Frenchman put Liverpool back on the map with a cup treble in 2001. Hyypia continued to be key under Rafa Benitez, winning the Champions League in 2005 before leaving after 464 appearances.

Philippe Coutinho (£8.5m)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Bought for £8.5m from Inter Milan in January 2013, Coutinho departed five years later for £142m to Barcelona. Not only a bargain, but also a fine player to boot. 

Signed by Rodgers, the Brazilian magician – as he was nicknamed at Anfield – made 201 appearances, scoring 54 goals for the club. Of his 41 league strikes, 19 were scored from outside the box... which is more than any other player in Premier League history.

Pepe Reina (£6m)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Goalkeepers don’t come cheap these days (as Liverpool know full well): the role now requires much more than just strong reflexes and shot-stopping ability. A modern keeper must be able to play as well; distribution is vital.

Benitez recognised this early on and signed Pepe Reina from Villarreal in 2006 for £6m. That sum was, until the arrival of Simon Mignolet for £9m in 2013, Liverpool’s record for a goalkeeper.

The former Barcelona stopper made almost 400 appearances for the Reds, becoming a firm fan favourite. His ability to distribute effectively from the back and communicate with his defence has been something Liverpool have lacked since his departure in 2014, although £60m new signing Alisson should have the qualities to replace him at last.

Gary McAllister (free)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Milner’s recent form has got some fans likening his influence to that of Gary McAllister after the veteran Scot was signed by Houllier on a free transfer in 2000 at the ripe old age of 35.

“Old baldy ‘ed”, as the Kop sang, scored seven vital goals during the incredible 2000/01 season, making an impressive 49 appearances despite his advancing years. He also helped to nurture younger midfield talents while with the club, most notably a certain Steven Gerrard – for whom he is now assistant manager at Rangers.

BIG INTERVIEW Gary McAllister: "The editor of a local fanzine said that if I played more than 10 matches, he’d show his bare arse in Woolworths"

Xabi Alonso (£10.7m)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

£10.7m wasn’t exactly cheap in 2004, when newly appointed manager Benitez paid Real Sociedad that figure for a relatively unknown young Spanish midfielder. But a year later, it certainly looked like a bargain.

Alonso played a key role in getting Liverpool to the Champions League final, scoring in the final and going on to become one of the classiest midfielders in Europe. Subsequent moves to Real Madrid, then Bayern Munich, added to a glittering playing career for one of the most likeable men in football.

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Oh, and he scored twice for the Reds from inside his own half. Not bad.

Mohamed Salah (£36m)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Some sceptics raised their eyebrows at the £36m Liverpool paid Roma for 'Chelsea reject' Salah in 2017 – but they were quickly made to eat their words.

An incredible 44 goals in his debut season at Anfield silenced any doubters, as Liverpool provided the Egyptian with a platform to prove himself after his disappointing first spell in England. Four goals in one game, against Watford in March 2018, perhaps showcased Salah’s qualities best.

It was in Europe where he really put down his marker, however, terrorising Manchester City and Roma as Liverpool unexpectedly progressed to the final.

Aged 26, Salah has his prime years ahead of him, and while Real Madrid reportedly have serious interest in him, he could be cost up to £200m in the current market.

Maxi Rodriguez (free)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Free transfers don’t always work out – see Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole for Liverpool – but when they do, they are the ultimate bargain signing. A wildcard arrival in the winter of 2010, Rodriguez was one of Benitez’s last signings as a free transfer arrival from Atletico Madrid.

After a couple of hat-tricks the following season under returning manager Kenny Dalglish, the Argentina international became a cult figure among Kopites. Yet he was unfortunately marginalised soon after by the arrivals of two £20m midfielders: Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing – with the latter proving that you don’t always get what you pay for in football.

Luis Suarez (£22.8m)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

It’s often forgotten that, for a very short time, Suarez was Liverpool’s most expensive signing. The Uruguayan forward arrived from Ajax on a dramatic deadline day in January 2011 from Ajax, just hours before Andy Carroll’s £35m move from Newcastle.

Suarez was the main reason for Liverpool’s title push under Rodgers in 2013/14, and some supporters will claim he is the most entertaining player they’ve seen at Anfield. His four-goal haul against Norwich that season had Kopites laughing in reaction to the mesmerising quality they were witnessing.

Controversial, colourful, passionate: Suarez had it all. And more. His 82 goals in 133 appearances were an incredible return for the now-Barcelona talisman, who arrived as a wide attacker unproven as a proven goalscorer at the highest level, yet departed for almost treble his fee and as one of the best No.9s in the world.

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Andy Robertson (£8m)

Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era
Liverpool’s 10 best transfer bargains of the Premier League era

Left-back has been a problem area at Liverpool for much of the past two decades. John Arne Riise temporarily solved it for a few years but never fully convinced, while Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa performed well but weren’t long-term solutions.

More recently, Alberto Moreno tried and failed after a promising start, and subsequently found himself playing backup as Milner deputised at left-back two seasons ago.  

Last summer, though, that all changed as Klopp added Andy Robertson from relegated Hull for an initial £8 million. The Scotsman didn’t become a regular until winter, but the high-pressing full-back quickly became a firm favourite at Anfield and soothed the Reds' left-back woes for good. 

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