Premier League • England

Jurgen Klopp: 10 worst Liverpool signings of managerial reign with rare transfer mistakes ranked

Jurgen Klopp, Loris Karius, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara

Jurgen Klopp has overseen some brilliant signings at Liverpool but not all have worked out

During his soon-to-be-over spell as Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp benefitted from some astute business in the transfer market by his club.

Liverpool have made big investments in players like Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, who have gone on to become cornerstones of Klopp’s team, while Mohamed Salah is someone who was signed for a not-insignificant fee, but became exponentially better than his transfer tag represented.

Then there are the absolute bargains like £10m man Andy Robertson and useful free pickups like Joel Matip.

But just like any club, Liverpool haven’t always got it right in the transfer market during Klopp’s time in charge.

Here, TEAMtalk counts down the worst signings Liverpool have made in the Klopp era – even though some of them may have gone on to enjoy success elsewhere.

10. Thiago Alcantara

It is testament to Liverpool’s generally positive track record with transfers under Klopp that a player of Thiago’s quality could be considered as one of their ‘worst’ signings in that timeframe, although it would be fair to say they never quite got what they expected from the Spanish maestro.

Arriving with a wealth of experience from spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Thiago was seen as a missing piece in Liverpool’s midfield and they spent a lot of time working on bringing him in.

Due to frequent injuries, though, Liverpool have never truly seen the best of Thiago, even though he has put in some useful performances when available.

His role as a deep-lying playmaker also affected the way Liverpool attacked under Klopp, as they had otherwise favoured a slightly more direct approach, which wasn’t necessarily compatible with Thiago’s style.

Liverpool spent up to £25m to sign Thiago but now look likely to lose him on a free transfer when his contract expires this summer.

9. Calvin Ramsay

In fairness to Calvin Ramsay, it has always looked like a tough battle for him to make it as a Liverpool regular, and injuries in his debut season didn’t help.

Brought in from Aberdeen in 2022, Ramsay was meant to act as a backup to Trent Alexander-Arnold in the right-back position, but failed to make his Premier League debut in his first season south of the border.

This season, the 20-year-old has been out on loan, first in the Championship with Preston and now in League One with Bolton, with neither spell being particularly productive yet.

Ironically, by joining Bolton on loan, he has followed in the footsteps of Conor Bradley, who this season since returning to Anfield has been quite convincing as Alexander-Arnold’s deputy, thus providing another future obstacle to Ramsay.

8. Takumi Minamino

Takumi Minamino’s transfer to Liverpool was an age-old fairytale story where a player impresses against a bigger club in a European match and subsequently earns a move to that bigger club.

The problem is that fairytales aren’t true and Minamino wasn’t good enough – only in patches – for the step up to Liverpool.

Although he stood out in the same Red Bull Salzburg side as Erling Haaland, the attacking midfielder didn’t look as comfortable among a Liverpool squad where practically everyone was a superstar. Even a loan spell at Southampton started promisingly but became forgettable.

There were times when Minamino looked alright in a Roberto Firmino-style central role for Liverpool, but he was nowhere near consistent or simply good enough to succeed the Brazilian star in the long term.

Nevertheless, Liverpool managed to make a profit on Minamino when they sold him to Monaco in 2022.

IN DEPTH – 12 players Liverpool made a profit on in the Jurgen Klopp era: Coutinho, Solanke, Minamino…

7. Dominic Solanke

These days, Dominic Solanke is one of the most prolific active English strikers in the Premier League. Earlier in his career, he was a huge prospect within the Chelsea academy.

In between that, something different happened: his solitary season at Liverpool, who paid a tribunal fee once his contract with Chelsea expired.

Solanke’s subsequent goal tally for Liverpool? Just one, from 27 appearances.

Despite Klopp being a good developer of talent, Solanke struggled to find his place at Liverpool and was ultimately offloaded to Bournemouth, who have since seen what he is really capable of in each of English football’s top two tiers.

Dominic Solanke doesn't think anyone would've got in ahead of Liverpool's front three when he was there

6. Marko Grujic

Famously the first signing of the Klopp era, Marko Grujic struggled to ever gain a consistent place in Liverpool’s lineups.

He amassed eight appearances in his first Liverpool season and then just six in his second. None of them were starts.

In turn, the club realised loaning him out was in their best interests.

Spells with Cardiff City and Hertha Berlin were followed by a brief return (consisting of two Carabao Cup appearances and a goal against Lincoln City) before Liverpool sold Grujic to Porto.

Costing just over £5m, Grujic was not an expensive flop for Liverpool and it would be harsh to judge his spell too negatively because of his lack of gametime, but perhaps that was a story unto itself.

5. Ben Davies

Ben Davies never made an appearance for Liverpool, despite costing them an initial £500,000 to sign from Preston North End.

It was only ever an emergency signing, designed to cover for an injury crisis in defence – but such was Liverpool’s luck that Davies himself suffered an injury too, ruining the chance of a lifetime at Anfield.

He went on to endure a loan spell with Sheffield United before being sold to Rangers for, perhaps surprisingly, a profit.

4. Steven Caulker

Similarly, but from a while before, Steven Caulker was something of an emergency signing for Liverpool, so it wouldn’t be too fair to shine the spotlight on him too harshly (especially respecting he had off-field issues during his time on Merseyside).

The former Tottenham youth product was halfway through a loan spell at Southampton from QPR when Liverpool took him on a loan of their own in January 2016 during Klopp’s first transfer window.

Caulker is most commonly remembered for bizarrely being used as a makeshift centre-forward when coming on as a late substitute.

However, the only one of his four Liverpool appearances to last a full 90 minutes was in more familiar territory as a centre-back in an FA Cup clash.

3. Arthur Melo

With a CV including spells at Barcelona and Juventus, who had paid more than €100m between them to sign him, Arthur Melo arrived at Liverpool with, on paper, good pedigree.

What was overlooked was the fact that Arthur hadn’t done particularly well in his most recent spell in Italy, and injuries had also been an issue for him, which Liverpool would soon come to realise after taking him on loan near the deadline of the summer 2022 transfer window in an unexpected deal.

Due to the latest chapter of his physical setbacks, Arthur never got to play for Liverpool in the Premier League after making his debut as a substitute in a Champions League loss to Napoli.

Given that Liverpool had paid €4.5m for the privilege of having Arthur on loan, his spell with the club was nothing short of a disaster.

With respect to the Brazil international, he has since found some stability again in his next loan away from Juventus, back in Serie A with Fiorentina.

2. Loris Karius

Sadly, Loris Karius will always be synonymous with Liverpool losing the 2018 Champions League final due to his howlers in goal against Real Madrid.

It came at the end of his second Liverpool season and would turn out to be his last appearance for the club, who subsequently struggled to find a buyer for him.

Karius cost Liverpool less than £5m when they signed him from Mainz in 2016, when he was a month away from turning 23, towards the start of Klopp’s first summer transfer window.

Despite that relatively small investment, Karius is classed as a serious Liverpool flop, especially when comparing him to the man who replaced him as no.1 (for a lot more money), Alisson Becker.

Going from Karius to Alisson was an unbelievable upgrade for Liverpool. Going from Simon Mignolet to Karius before that was barely an upgrade at all.

The German ultimately left Liverpool on a free transfer in 2022.

1. Naby Keita

Such were Liverpool’s hopes for Naby Keita, they arranged his signing a year in advance, committing to a deal worth at least £48m regardless of how his last season with RB Leipzig went.

Due to RB Leipzig qualifying for the 2018-19 Europa League, Liverpool were forced to pay a bonus clause too, taking their investment up to £52.75m.

Keita became the first bearer of the Liverpool number eight shirt since Steven Gerrard, only adding to the expectations of what he would bring to their midfield.

Sadly, his Liverpool career never really picked up any kind of momentum. There were some decent showings here and there, but he lacked major impact. Besides, injury issues constantly hampered him.

Naby Keita played 129 times for Liverpool but missed 122 games through injury

The most Keita ever played in a Premier League season was the 25 appearances he managed in his debut season, just 16 of which were starts.

£52.75m was a lot of money for someone who never got going as a regular starter, and that’s even before considering Liverpool eventually had to release him on a free transfer when his contract expired in 2023.

A lot of bad luck was to blame, but even thinking of when he was available, it is hard to recall a genuine standout performance from the Guinea international in a Liverpool shirt, which became even more of a shame as Liverpool’s midfield declined until its reinvigoration in the same summer as Keita’s departure.

READ MORE – Jurgen Klopp: Top 10 most expensive Liverpool signings and how they fared