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5 players Liverpool regret selling

Xabi Alonso is one of several skilful players Liverpool have sold prematurely
Xabi Alonso is one of several skilful players Liverpool have sold prematurely
Bhargav
ANALYST

Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool are one of the oldest clubs in world football, with an illustrious history of almost 130 years.

Incidentally, Liverpool are also the most successful club in England. Their 48th and most recent trophy was the 2019-20 Premier League title, which was the Anfield club's first English top-flight title in over three decades and the first in the Premier League era.

Liverpool's rich trophy haul, which consists of 34 domestic titles (19 league triumphs and 15 domestic cups) and 14 continental titles, is three clear of the next most successful English club - Manchester United.

Unsurprisingly, some of the best players from England and abroad have worn the famous red jersey and left an indelible imprint on the club's rich footballing legacy. Unfortunately, some other footballers left Liverpool prematurely and went on to make their names at other clubs.


5 players Liverpool regret selling

In other words, like most major football clubs, Liverpool have also committed mistakes - if not blunders - in the transfer market by letting go of some of their most prized assets, either when they were at their peak or approaching it.

On that note, let us have a look at five such players, in no particular order, whom Liverpool regret jettisoning from their roster.


#5: John Arne Riise (Moved from Liverpool to AS Roma in 2008)

John Arne Riise while playing for Liverpool
John Arne Riise while playing for Liverpool

39-year-old John Arne Riise enjoyed the most prolific spell of his club career in the colours of Liverpool.

After starting his professional career with his homeland club Aalesunds in 1997, Riise spent three seasons in Monaco before arriving at Anfield in the summer of 2001.

The Norwegian was renowned for his stamina, work rate and shooting ability. Although he primarily operated as a left-back, his versatility allowed him to be also deployed in more advanced areas of the pitch.

Although he missed a spot-kick in the ensuing penalty shootout, the Norwegian provided the assist that sparked Liverpool's successful comeback from 0-3 down in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan.

The next season, the left-back scored a memorable winner as Liverpool recorded a rare win by an English club at the home of Barcelona. In 2007-08, however, Riise scored an own goal against Chelsea in the Champions League that led to Liverpool exiting the competition. That season, the Norwegian lost his first-team place to Fabio Aurelio.

During his seven-season stay at Liverpool, Riise scored 30 goals in over 300 appearances in all competitions, and expressed his desire to retire at the club. But that was not to be.

In a later interview, Riise reminisced about his Liverpool exit -

"Rafa told me they were gonna sign a new left-back and that I was not gonna be the first choice. Normally that doesn’t bother me because at a club like Liverpool you always face new players and hard competition."
"He then told me that I deserve to be first-choice, but he couldn’t give me that at Liverpool. We had two games left of the season and I was on 348 games for Liverpool, I asked him if I could please play part in last 2 games so I got to 350, he wouldn’t let me."
"350 games would have given me average of 50 games a season. I left the office with a lot of respect for Rafa."
"I went down to dressing room feeling surprised, disappointed and empty. Some of the players came out of the shower and I met Carra, Stevie and Pepe. Carra asked me what gaffa said."
"I just told them I’m off. The looks on their faces told me they were surprised. Very surprised. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even shower, went straight to my car and started crying."

Riise left Liverpool for AS Roma, where he played for three seasons. He returned to the Premier League in 2011 and continued to dish out solid performances for Fulham. With Aurelio struggling at Anfield with injury issues all this while, Liverpool should surely have kept Riise in the squad.


#4: Xabi Alonso (Moved from Liverpool to Real Madrid in 2009)

Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso was one of the finest midfielders of his time. Renowned for his work-rate, consistency and versatility, the Spaniard truly made his name at Liverpool.

The 39-year-old, who was blessed with excellent technique, passing ability and set-piece prowess, scored 19 goals in 210 appearances in all competitions while mostly playing from a deep-lying midfield position.

After AC Milan took what looked like an unassailable 3-0 half-time lead against Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final, it was Alonso who restored parity at the half-hour mark before the Anfield club prevailed in the ensuing penalty shootout.

However, the Spaniard's stay at Liverpool proved to be short-lived as he felt unwanted under manager Rafael Benitez before leaving the club to play for European giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Teammate Steven Gerrard, in his autobiography, minced no words about Liverpool, and more specifically Benitez, for not doing enough to keep Alonso at the club. Incidentally, it was Benitez who was instrumental in bringing his compatriot to Anfield in the first place.

"It was clear Alonso was royalty after our first training session together in August 2004, and Rafa Benitez, who had been so clever to buy him in the first place, was equally stupid to sell him to Real Madrid five years later. He was, by some distance, the best central midfielder I ever played alongside."
"It was a disastrous decision to sell Alonso, and especially for just £30million—which looks a snip now when you reflect on all he has achieved subsequently, both at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and with Spain, winning the Euros and the World Cup. I blame Rafa entirely for the loss of Alonso. He could still have been playing for Liverpool six or seven years after he left in 2009."

Alonso, in a later interview with Liverpool Echo, admitted that he never wanted to leave the club at the first place. But the manager's insistence on bringing in new players at the expense of Alonso forced the Spanish player's hand.

"At the end of that season, speaking to Rafa, he told me the situation and that he wanted to sign other players and I could be replaced. I was really happy with the team and my team-mates and felt that we could do great things."

While Alonso won titles galore with Madrid and Bayern, his replacements at Liverpool couldn't live up to those exalted heights. To this day, Alonso's exit remains one of Liverpool's worst mistakes in the transfer market.

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Edited by Sai Krishna
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