‘Arsenal got Henry and Pires, Liverpool signed Heskey and Barmby’ – Carragher highlights transfer struggles
The Reds legend admits that those at Anfield often found themselves left behind in the recruitment market, with Arsene Wenger a transfer “genius”
Jamie Carragher admits that Liverpool’s transfer business left them well off the pace prior to Jurgen Klopp’s arrival, with his playing days seeing deals for the likes of Emile Heskey and Nick Barmby countered by arrivals of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires at rivals Arsenal.
The Reds have always sought to remain competitive in the recruitment market, but have been blown out of the water at times.
Identifying targets has also proved problematic on occasion, with Premier League foes able to find considerably more value in agreements that cost no more than those put in place at Anfield.
The tide has started to turn in recent years, with Klopp landing the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, but it has taken a while for Liverpool to overcome the “genius” of former foe Arsene Wenger and the big-spending of Manchester neighbours United and City.
Carragher, who spent his entire playing career with the Reds before retiring in 2013, told Sky Sports: “I think we were spending similar to Arsenal, and the big difference between [Gerard] Houllier and Arsene Wenger, though I adore Houllier, Wenger was a genius in the transfer market.
“We signed Emile Heskey for £11 million, Wenger signed Henry for £11m. If we signed Nick Barmby for £6m, they signed Robert Pires for £6m. They also got Sol Campbell on a free at that time. They just became superstars, whereas ours became very good players.
“You see Christian Ziege; I think he was possibly the highest paid player in the Premier League and it felt like the end of him playing left-back for Liverpool, and he ended up playing left midfield.
“I think at that time, if things didn’t go well for Man United, they had an ability to spend big. Like Rio Ferdinand for £30m in the summer of 2002 after Arsenal won the league. For us, we’d spend that money on four players, and you needed them all to work.”
Liverpool’s success in the transfer market has allowed them to land Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup crowns, with the Reds currently waiting on a decision on the end of the 2019-20 campaign and whether they will be freed to land a first league title in 30 years.
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