Liverpool’s biggest transfer flops: where are they now?
Liverpool are currently stuck two wins away from winning the Premier League title for the first time and are enjoying an extended spell as European champions. That’s due in no small part to the excellent team assembled by Jurgen Klopp and the Anfield hierarchy. Shrewd signings like Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been key to the Reds’ progress in recent seasons.
Life hasn’t always been so good. The Merseysiders have had their fair share of missteps in the transfer market over the years. Let’s relive some of Liverpool’s worst transfer signings and find out where they are now.
Liverpool paid an initial £17m to sign Aquiliani from boyhood club Roma in 2009. He was tasked with replacing Xabi Alonso in the Reds’ midfield, but never came close to achieving that. He struggled to make his mark under Rafa Benitez and fell further down the pecking order under Roy Hodgson, which resulted in him leaving to join Juventus on loan after just 26 appearances for Liverpool.
Another season-long loan spell at AC Milan followed, before Aquilani was allowed to join Fiorentina on a free transfer in August 2012. After three seasons with La Viola, he saw out his career at Pescara, Sassuolo and Las Palmas. He left the Spanish club at the end of the 2017/18 season and announced his retirement after a year without a club.
Aquilani, aged 35, is now back at Serie A side Fiorentina as technical assistant to coach Giuseppe Iachini.
Gerard Houllier paid £4.5m to sign Cheyrou from Lille in 2002. He heralded the new arrival as the Reds’ answer to Zinedine Zidane. The basis of those comparisons were not apparent during Cheyrou’s two-season stint at Anfield. He played 47 games and scored five goals for the club without living up to the lofty expectations.
He was surplus to requirements when Rafa Benitez replaced Houllier and spent successive seasons on loan at Marseille and Bordeaux before making a permanent move to Rennes in 2006. He also had stints at Anorthosis Famagusta and Nantes before retiring in 2012.
Cheyrou (pictured above), aged 41, is currently sporting director of Paris Saint Germain’s women’s team. At the time of writing, he is being linked with the head coach’s job at Lyon. He has also worked as a co-commentator for broadcaster beIN Sports since hanging up his boots.
When winger Diomede arrived at Anfield in 2000, it was just two years after he started three of France’s games en route to winning the 1998 World Cup. His time on Merseyside was not as illustrious.
Prior to the £3m transfer, Diomede had spent his entire career at Auxerre. He made just five appearances for the Reds before moving to Ajaccio – initially on loan – in January 2003. Diomede saw out his career with spells at Creteil and Clermont Foot. He hung up his boots in January 2008 after 18 months without a club.
In retirement, Diomede studied at the Centre for Sports Law and Economics at the University of Limoges and also studied for his coaching badge. He setup the Academie Diomede, which continues to train young footballers in Issy-les-Moulineaux, on the outskirts of Paris.
He is currently the coach of the France Under-20 team, having progressed through Les Bleus’ age groups.
Liverpool paid £10m to sign El-Hadji Diouf from French side Lens in 2002, midway through his impressive showing for Senegal at the World Cup. He scored just six goals in 79 appearances for the Reds in his two seasons at Anfield. Infamously, he failed to score a single goal as Liverpool’s number 9in the 2003/04 season.
After that – and after the first couple of spitting incidents that would dog his career – he was offloaded to Bolton Wanderers, initially on loan. He spent time at Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers, Doncaster Rovers, Leeds United and Malaysian side Sabah.
Since retiring in 2013, Diouf has ventured into his politics in his homeland. goodwill ambassador and advisor on sport to Senegalese president Macky Sall. He has spoken of his ambition of becoming an MP. He also has business interests including a sport newspaper and a gym.
South African striker Dundee was signed from German side Karlsruhe for £2m in 1998. Joint-managers Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier bought him as cover for the injured Robbie Fowler, but he ended up as an unneeded backup to Michael Owen and Karl-Heinz Riedle.
His three Premier League appearances all came from the bench in the closing stages of the season. He was offloaded to VfB Stuttgart at the end of the season. He move on to Austia Wien, before another decent spell with Karlsruher. He rounded off his career at Kickers Offenbach and Stuttgart Kickers, before a swansong in his homeland with AmaZulu.
The 47-year-old is now a co-commentator for Sky Germany and the Bundesliga‘s international broadcast feed.
Meijer was essentially the following season’s Sean Dundee. Like Dundee, he joined from a German club (in his case Bayer Leverkusen). Like Dundee, he was intended to provide cover for Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler. And like Dundee, he wasn’t really needed and wasn’t really up to scratch.
Although he endeared himself to fans off the field, on the pitch he scored just one goal in 24 Premier League games. Aftera loan spell at Preston North End, he played out his career with spells at Hamburg and Alemannia Aachen.
After hanging up his boots, Meijer held several roles at his final club, including being part of the management staff, assistant coach and sporting director. He currently works as a pundit for Sky Sport Germany (like Dundee, naturally).
Piechnik’s display for Denmark in the semi-final and final of Euro 92 earned him a transfer from Boldklubben 1903 to FC Copenhagen. But after just seven games for his new side, Piechnik was snapped up by Reds boss Graeme Souness for a fee of £500,000 in September 1992.
He struggled to adapt to English football, making just 16 appearances in his first season at Anfield and only one in the 1993/94 campaign. Piechnik joined AGF Aarhus that summer and played out the final five years of his career with the club.
After retiring Piechnik worked as an estate agent and studied massage. Since 2004, has been running his own massage business in Copenhagen. His daughter Line plays for Denmark’s women’s basketball team.
The England international left-back was believed to have cost around £4m when he followed manager Roy Hodgson from Fulham to Anfield in 2010. After an error-strewn half-season at the club in which he was jeered by Liverpool supporters, he was offloaded on-loan to Nottingham Forest in January 2011.
He made a permanent move to Leicester City at the end of the season, just one year into his four-year contract. He spent the 2015/16 season on loan at Queens Park Rangers, then moved on to Gillingham. He ended his career with Billericay Town and a brief stint at East Thurrock United in 2018.
Towards the end of his playing career, he opened Konch’s Cafe in Brentwood, Essex, and the 38-year-old continues to own the cafe.
Liverpool enjoyed something of a golden age of disastrous transfers in the 10 years prior to Klopp taking charge. While the likes of Andy Carroll, Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Iago Aspas and Charlie Adam could certainly be considered among Liverpool’s worst transfer flops in recent memory, their whereabouts are still well known so they were not included in this list.