The summer of 2014 was an interesting time at Liverpool; the dust had settled on a dramatic near-title winning season, where the mention of the word ‘slip’ still summons post-traumatic stress from their fans to this day, while the exit of a certain Uruguayan striker had to be accepted as reality.
Luis Suarez, fresh off a Golden Boot-winning season with The Reds, had just taken a chunk out of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. It was the second time within almost a year that the Uruguayan had bit an opponent on a football pitch, and the third of his career.
As rumours began to materialize that Barcelona had come in with a substantial offer for Suarez – £65 million – the Uruguayan got the green light to leave the club, almost without much of a fuss.
While the loss of Luis Suarez severely dented Liverpool’s immediate chances to challenge for the Premier League title, it provided the foundation for then-manager Brendan Rodgers to rebuild the side for the future.
Here we rate each of the eight players signed in the summer of 2014 for a total outlay of £117 million – the biggest summer window in the history of the club, for now…
Adam Lallana – joined for £25 million from Southampton on July 1, 2014
The raid of Southampton began with the purchase of English attacking midfielder Adam Lallana, who signed soon after representing The Three Lions at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Two reasonable seasons followed with The Reds as Lallana recorded nine goals and nine assists from 57 Premier League appearances, most of which were under Brendan Rodgers. But for all his twisting and turning on the ball, one constant criticism remained: Lallana sorely lacked a final product.
That all changed not too long after the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, who started deploying the former Southampton man in a deeper midfield role. The slight change of positioning allowed Lallana more time on the ball to find his rhythm and make late runs into the box, which helped him to eight goals and seven assists in the Premier League last season – a total which almost eclipses his output from the last two seasons combined.
Emre Can – joined for £10 million from Bayer Leverkusen on July 3, 2014
German under-21 international Emre Can joined Liverpool just two days after Lallana’s arrival, and brought with him a colossal presence and established CV for a 20-year-old; standing at six-feet-tall, Can made the transition from youth player to professional at Bayern Munich before moving to Bayer Leverkusen, where he showed tremendous versatility in his game.
At Liverpool, his myriad of abilities initially proved a double-edged sword; Brendan Rodgers was always able to find a role for him, whether in midfield or defence, but his positioning at right-back or centre-back was never ideal. He did, however, earn Liverpool’s Young Player of the Season award for his efforts in 2015/16.
His breakthrough into the German national team in August 2015 reflects the progress he has made since his signing three years ago, and he is currently a first-team member of Liverpool’s squad. Has the occasional spectacular goal in his repertoire, as seen with efforts against Bournemouth and Watford, with the latter earning him the BBC Goal of the Year award.
Dejan Lovren – joined for £20 million from Southampton on July 27, 2014
A contentious decision to definitively label this transfer under the ‘good’ section – so, by all means, fire away – but Dejan Lovren has stood the test of time (kind of) at Liverpool, and has recently formed an imposing partnership with Joel Matip that appears to have brought the best out of him.
The Croatian does little favour to himself with his high-profile gaffes, which his detractors are sure to swiftly point to, and has dealt with public ignominy from the press before: he was named in the Telegraph’s 20 worst signings of the Premier League after his first season at the club.
However, after several spells out of the first team for poor performances, Lovren redeemed himself in a rock-solid partnership with Joel Matip last season. Liverpool conceded a measly 13 goals from the 18 games where the two started alongside each other, losing only one of those games – not bad for a defence that was under fire from the media all season, and for a defender who was named as one of the worst signings of the season when he first came into the squad.
Rickie Lambert – joined for £4 million from Southampton on July 1, 2014
A low-risk transfer for a capable back-up player thrilled at the opportunity to join the side who released him as a youth player, Rickie Lambert’s Liverpool transfer isn’t thrown into the ‘bad’ pile absent-minded.
After all, just look at his career: Blackpool, Macclesfield Town, Stockport County, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and Southampton – with the latter of those clubs where he finally broke through at Premier League level, aged 30. And Lambert was on fire, scoring Premier League tallies of 15 and 13 in his two seasons in the top-tier with The Saints.
His move to Liverpool wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow if they invested the Luis Suarez money appropriately in attack – they didn’t. They went into a Champions League season with the perpetually sidelined Daniel Sturridge, out-of-form Mario Balotelli, unproven Fabio Borini and back-up Rickie Lambert to spearhead the side. Lambert was always going to be peripheral and proved just that, making little impact with three goals in 36 appearances.
Lazar Markovic – joined for £20 million from Benfica on July 15, 2014
It’s strange to think that Lazar Markovic has technically been a Liverpool player for three years, especially considering the whimper with which his Anfield career appears to be ending with.
The Serbian was given sporadic appearance to show his abilities, in all fairness to him, but the £20 million price-tag weighed heavy both on his shoulders and on the mind of Brendan Rodgers, who had to include him in the side. He started just 11 times in the Premier League, scoring twice, and added another to tally three goals in 34 appearances in all competitions in 2014/15.
An underwhelming first season was never allowed to be rectified at the club, as Liverpool loaned Markovic to Fenerbache, Sporting CP and Hull City across the following two seasons. Limited appearances have plagued his time on loan at all three clubs, and Jurgen Klopp recently confirmed that the player has no future at Anfield.
Alberto Moreno – joined for £12 million from Sevilla on August 16, 2014
The Spaniard is another defensive signing from the summer of 2014 who is known for his tendency for a calamity, except in his case, he might not be afforded another opportunity to prove his worth.
After two seasons where Moreno was unrivalled for his position at left-back – starting 26 and 28 Premier League games in 2014/15 and 2015/16 – Jurgen Klopp handed him a start in the first game of last season against Arsenal. A reckless challenge to give away a penalty followed by positional naivety to allow Theo Walcott an entry to goal minutes later, and Klopp had seen enough.
Moreno started just one more game in the Premier League last season, totalling 298 minutes of game time as he watched most of the season from the sidelines. Following James Milner’s new role at left-back and the recent signing of Hull City’s Andrew Robertson, Moreno faces a possible third-choice role at left-back this season.
Mario Balotelli – joined for £16 million from AC Milan on August 25, 2014
The enigmatic Italian international was the final summer signing of 2014, and one that Liverpool fans probably hoped would be more of a success than they actually believed.
Balotelli brought press in abundance, for positive and negative reasons, and was a colourful character to add to the ranks, but where everything mattered, on the pitch, he flopped hopelessly. He didn’t score in the Premier League until February, saving that effort for Tottenham in what proved to be the winner, and left Liverpool after just one season – scoring four goals in 28 appearances.
Since joining OGC Nice, Balotelli has completely turned his career around. He scored 15 goals in Ligue 1, the highest league-tally of his career, and finished last season with 17 strikes in 28 appearances. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they never even got so much as a glimpse at his true talents.
Divock Origi – joined for £10 million from Lillie on July 29, 2014
A signing with long-term implications from day one, Divock Origi spent the 2014/15 season on loan at Lille, the club Liverpool signed him from.
The Belgian netted eight times from 33 appearances in Ligue 1 that season, not exactly a tally to set the world alight, but it was also important to remember that he was only 19 years old.
His age and playing time is part of his inclusion in this category of uncertainty. While Origi has shown exciting potential in various purple patches, such as his five-goals-in-as-many-appearances spell last season, he has never really been viewed as anything other than a back-up, and looks set to continue that role this season.