In 2014, Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning the title, but infamously fell short in the final few weeks of the season. Luis Suarez was the superstar of the team, recording an incredible 31 goals and 13 assists, and his performances didn’t go unnoticed, as he moved to Barcelona for around £64 million the following summer, making him the fourth most expensive player in history at the time. Despite losing their best player, Liverpool aimed to use the money to strengthen their squad in general and create a more balanced team. The Reds wasted no time in reinvesting—signing nine new players in the summer of 2014, exceeding the Suarez money and spending over £100 million. However, despite intending to strengthen the team overall and create a foundation for future title campaigns, four years on these players have not made the intended impact. Liverpool are in a strong position at the moment, but only a couple of their 2014 signings are integral to their current team.
Lallana is perhaps Liverpool’s most successful 2014 signing. The English midfielder moved to Merseyside for around £25 million after a stellar campaign with Southampton. He was signed ten days before Suarez left, so it is difficult to say whether he was expected to strengthen the team alongside Suarez, or to help fill the void left by the Uruguayan’s imminent exit. Regardless, he developed into a key player for Liverpool and for England, and has been one of Liverpool’s best players in recent years. His 2017-18 campaign was thwarted by injuries, as he only managed thirteen appearances. However, he may still make Liverpool’s starting line-up if he can recover form and fitness next season.
Lovren also signed from Southampton after an impressive season for the Saints. He has had a mixed Liverpool career, with his performances being questioned on many occasions, and Liverpool have since signed two centre-backs intended to start for the club in Joel Matip and Virgil Van Djik, whilst Ragnar Klavan was also signed as back-up. However, despite questions being asked about him, he was Liverpool’s only 2014 signing that continuously made the starting line-up last season, as he was often preferred to Matip and Klavan. The defender divides opinions, however he was undeniably a useful signing, even if he has been slightly underwhelming.
Moreno was a highly rated young left back at Sevilla, and was linked with Real Madrid before he opted to sign for Liverpool for roughly £12 million. He made a good start to his Liverpool career, and demonstrated his considerable ability pushing forward, however his defensive capability gradually became an issue. Moreno’s reputation has declined throughout his time at Liverpool, and he lost his starting berth to an out-of-position James Milner in the 2016/17 season, and then to new signing Andy Robertson in the 2017/18 season. Despite losing his starting place and being considered a liability by some, Moreno is a good player to have as back-up, especially as Liverpool did not break the bank to sign him. Moreover, he was certainly a successful signing when compared to some of the other signings that the Reds made in 2014.
Lambert was Liverpool’s third signing from Southampton even though he signed first, as he moved at the start of June. It was a fairy tale transfer, as the boyhood Liverpool fan signed for the Reds at 32, after impressing alongside Lallana and Lovren for the Saints. The English forward was realistically only signed as a back-up striker. However, his three goals in 36 appearances was nonetheless disappointing, and he moved on to West Brom in the Summer of 2015.
Liverpool were believed to have bagged a bargain when they signed the mercurial Balotelli for £16 million. However, the Italian failed to perform for the Reds, as he managed only four goals in 28 appearances. Unlike Lambert, Balotelli was expected to make a huge impact to fill the boots of Suarez up front, but the Kop only saw fleeting glimpses of Balotelli’s ability and he was loaned to AC Milan the next season, before transferring to Nice the season after that.
Manquillo signed for Liverpool on loan from Atletico Madrid as a promising young full back with bags of potential. Liverpool had an option to buy the 20-year old at the end of the season, but they were not sufficiently impressed by the Spaniard, who was in-and-out of the team throughout the season, and only made 19 appearances all in all.
Can was a successful signing for Liverpool, developing into a quality player in his first three seasons at the club. However, he was effectively dropped in the 2017/18 season as he was reluctant to sign a new contract for the club, and was keen to move on from Liverpool when his deal expired in the summer of 2018. He has been flirting with a move to Juventus for several months, and got his wish just a few days ago. He was a good player for the Reds, but the fact that he left the club for free after only four years makes it difficult to see him as a good signing. Liverpool will not reap the rewards of his development in the form of good performances, and neither will they profit from his departure.
Signed off the back of an impressive 2014 World Cup, Origi moved to Liverpool from Lille for around £10 million, but spent a year back on loan at the French club in the 2014/15 season. The young Belgian forward put in some good performances during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons at Liverpool, however, he then spent the 2017/18 season on loan at Wolfsburg. Origi would seem to be a good back-up player for Liverpool although his future at the club is relatively uncertain, given that he spent last season on loan and failed to set the Bundesliga alight, with six goals in 36 appearances for a struggling Wolfsburg side.
Alongside Balotelli, Markovic was Liverpool’s most disappointing signing of 2014. The Serbian joined Liverpool from Benfica for £20 million as a highly promising winger, however, he failed to make a huge impact at the club. Markovic hasn’t played for Liverpool since the 2014/15 season and has been loaned out to Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon, Hull and Anderlecht. There is uncertainty surrounding his future, as the winger is still contracted to Liverpool, however, he has failed to make a big enough impact during his various loan spells to convince the Reds that he is good enough to push for their starting eleven.
A waste of money?
Looking closely at their acquisitions four years on, it is fair to say that Liverpool did not spend the money that they received from the Suarez sale particularly well. Lallana was a good signing, Lovren, Moreno and Origi were useful, and Emre Can would have been money well spent if he did not want to leave so soon, or if his departure brought Liverpool a profit. However, the rest of Liverpool’s 2014 signings were disappointing, and have not helped Liverpool to build a foundation for future title charges. With the likes of Firmino, Mane, Salah and Van Djik, Liverpool have made some excellent signings since 2014, and now do have a good foundation for a title challenge. It must be said, however, their squad could be even better if they had spent the Suarez money more wisely.