Liverpool's 2014 Summer Signings – One Year On
Believe it or not, quite a few Liverpool fans were pretty content with the club’s business as the transfer window closed a year ago. Yes, we were all still mourning the departure of Luis Suarez, but Liverpool showed plenty of intent by spending £117m on nine new players as they looked to build a title-challenging side.
The rest, as they say, is history. Twelve months on, all the excitement surrounding the newcomers has dissipated.
Kristian Johnson takes a look at how last season’s arrivals fared in their first year at Liverpool.
It’s not that Adam Lallana has done anything wrong, he just hasn’t done a whole lot right. With a £25m transfer fee hanging over his head, many criticise him for not influencing the game enough as an attacking midfielder.
Following an injury-hit first season with the Reds, Brendan Rodgers looked certain to give him a run of games in the side this time round to prove his worth, but once again the former Southampton captain picked up an knock. With Roberto Firmino now on the scene, Lallana may have to settle for a role as a bit-part player.
The unbridled joy on Rickie Lambert’s face as he was on the verge of a move to his boyhood club brought a smile to the face of every Liverpool fan.
His time on the pitch started swimmingly, too. Coming off the bench against Southampton, his presence alongside Daniel Sturridge helped the Reds to a 2-1 victory over his previous side.
However, after Sturridge’s injury he was soon promoted from his role as third or fourth-choice striker and found himself tasked with being Liverpool’s premier striker – a role for which he was never suited.
Lambert has since left West Brom and although he never scored at Anfield, his strike at Aston Villa and the subsequent mad celebration with the travelling support is the stuff of every Liverpool fan’s dreams.
Remarkably, there are still some people defending Balotelli – the £16m striker who scored fewer Premier League goals than Wes Morgan, Ben Mee or Brede Hangeland last term – but in truth his Liverpool career was a disaster from start to finish.
He arrived as the club’s marquee signing amidst a fanfare, but the recent stories which tell of his misdemeanours at the club – skipping training to buy an iPhone and refusing to warm down after the FA Cup victory over AFC Wimbledon – make a mockery of his early promises that he would knuckle down and act in a professional manner.
All of this would have been laughed off had he performed on the pitch and although there thankfully weren’t any fireworks prompting a visit from the fire brigade, there weren’t any fireworks on the pitch either.
Balotelli has moved back to AC Milan on loan and his career is at risk of ending as little more than an ongoing soap opera.
The latest in a string of high-profile errors from Dejan Lovren came in the recent 3-0 home defeat to West Ham United. The £20m defender was shambolic, gifting the ball to Manuel Lanzini to set up the visitors’ second goal and comically falling over after failing to pull off a stepover in the centre circle.
After the match, he said: “In these moments you have to keep your head up and to play the rest of the game. I tried everything but what can I say? It was a bad decision by me and mistakes happen.”
The problem is these mistakes are far too frequent. His first season was a disaster from start to finish and the club’s best form in 2014-15 coincided with his absence from the side.
Rodgers has shown faith in Lovren by starting him in all four of this season’s games, but his West Ham antics could be the final nail in the coffin.
Perhaps the strangest transfer of the lot. Javier Manquillo’s two-year loan deal certainly came out of left field, but the full-back enjoyed a steady, if unspectacular, first few months at Anfield.
The youngster had performed admirably in a struggling side before becoming the side’s forgotten man. His final Liverpool start came in January, a 0-0 FA Cup draw at home to Bolton Wanderers.
He is now at Marseille and although Nathaniel Clyne’s purchase means the Spaniard won’t be missed, he did little wrong in his short Liverpool career.
Poor Lazar Markovic. The 21-year-old arrived from Benfica with a stellar reputation, but he never got out of first gear at Anfield.
There were glimpses of his talent, most notably an outrageous volley which smashed the bar at Sunderland, but all momentum came to an abrupt halt as he was sent off in the final Champions League group game at home to Basel.
Markovic spent large parts of last season in an unfamiliar wing-back role and we are still yet to see him get a run of games in his favoured attacking midfield position. Nonetheless, little of what he’s done in a Liverpool shirt so far has been convincing and his timid displays mean there are a number of players ahead of him in the pecking order.
Markovic is the fourth of last summer’s signings to have moved on, having joined Fenerbahce on loan for the season, and it’s hard to see him ever becoming a Liverpool regular.
Not only did Liverpool’s season look so promising after dismantling Spurs 3-0 last September, but Alberto Moreno looked like the best thing since sliced bread with his incredible solo run and finish.
This proved to be the highlight of Moreno’s Liverpool career so far though, with his subsequent performances resembling his Man City horror show just a week earlier, when his slack defending gifted the Citizens two of their three goals.
As Liverpool’s season slumped from one disappointment to another, Moreno increasingly found his game time restricted.
Things haven’t got much better this season and he has been usurped by 18-year-old centre-back Joe Gomez in the first four games of the current campaign.
After watching the young striker lead an attacking Belgium side at the World Cup, there was excitement aplenty when Divock Origi signed last summer.
However, he was loaned straight back to Lille as part of the deal and suffered a disappointing campaign, with a six-month goal drought earning him a place in L’Equipe’s Ligue 1 ‘Worst Team of the Season’. Liverpool tried to prematurely end his loan deal in January, but talks fell through.
A year after signing the 20-year-old, we are still none the wiser about him. The Europa League and Capital One Cup campaigns should give us a clearer indication of his talents.
The best of a bad bunch. Emre Can’s Liverpool career began slowly, but his stock rose after a goal in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield.
At this stage it seemed as though Liverpool had bought an imposing, marauding midfielder, but he spent large parts of the season as a centre-back, earning plaudits for his defensive displays.
It appears that he will be used in his favoured midfield role again this term, but huge question marks still linger over the German. He’s clearly talented, as shown by his call-up to the senior Germany squad, but nobody – not least Can himself – seems to know his best position.
It’s too early to say it’s a make-or-break season for the 21-year-old, but he must begin to nail down a regular place in the side.