Liverpool’s transfer record has been broken nineteen times, since the end of the second world war. Each of those transfers (successful or otherwise) has ushered Liverpool into a new era. Let’s take a look at these transfer milestones.
Liverpool’s transfer record before World War II
William Dunlop was the first player to be transferred to Liverpool Football Club for a sum of £35 in January 1895. The Scottish left-back went on to play for 14 years for Liverpool and made 325 appearances.
In 1905, Liverpool signed Sam Hardy for £500. To date, he is the only goalkeeper to have held Liverpool’s transfer record. His transfer record of 16 years was broken when Liverpool signed Tom Bradshaw for £8,000 in 1930. Bradshaw was a centre-back and made 277 appearances for The Reds.
After the end of World War II, Liverpool signed Albert Stubbins from Newcastle United for £12,500 in 1946. The 27-year-old forward was very popular in Merseyside. He also helped Liverpool to lift the league title in his first season. In fact, he became so popular that he featured on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
Stubbins held the transfer record for 14 years. This particular period was a dark time for Liverpool, as they were relegated in 1953 after 50 years in the top flight. The Merseyside club also suffered the heaviest loss in its history, losing 9-1 against Birmingham in the second division.
The Shankly Years
But the arrival of Bill Shankly provided wind beneath the wings of Liverpool. So much so, that Liverpool would not only be promoted to the first division, they would go on and win it. Shankly spent £37,500 on Ian St John from Motherwell in 1961, the Scottish striker was integral to Liverpool climbing out of the second division and going on to become an Anfield legend.
There were six record signings during Shankly’s reign. Emlyn Hughes signed from Blackpool for £65,000, Tony Hateley, from Chelsea for £96,000 and, Alun Evans, for £100,000 from Wolves. Emlyn Hughes was a fan-favourite and went on to win four league titles and two European Cups. On the other hand, 19-year-old Evans was the most expensive teenager at that time but his time at Anfield was ill-fated. He made 111 appearances but was pushed aside, following the arrival of Kevin Keegan.
Shankly also signed John Toshack for £110,000 in 1970 and, Ray Kennedy from Arsenal for £180,000 in July 1974. Ray Kenndy was Shankly’s last signing as he passed the baton to his successor, Bob Paisley.
Bob Paisely’ Reign
David Johnson arrived from Ipswich Town for a sum of £200,000), and Kenny Dalglish for £440,000 from Celtic in 1977. While Mark Lawrenson cost £900,000, as he arrived from Brighton in1981. All of these players won the European Cup with Liverpool, but Dalglish stands head and shoulders above the rest. He score 172 goals and is regarded as one of the best to ever play for the club. King Kenny, as he is affectionately called, also managed Liverpool.
Dalglish signed Peter Beardsley from Newcastle United for £1.9 million in 1987. His successor, Graeme Souness signed Dean Saunders from Derby County in 1991 for £2.9 million. Stan Collymore was brought in by Roy Evans in 1995 from Nottingham Forest for £8.5 million.
Gérard Roullier broke the record twice. He brought in Emile Heskey from Leicester for £11 million, breaking the £10 million barriers. Djibril Cisse was brought from Auxerre for £14.5m, Cisse also played in the historic 2005 Champions League Final.
With the backing of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Fernando Torres was brought for £20.2 million in 2007. This period was one of the most turbulent times in Liverpool’s storied history. Tom Hicks and George Gillett pushed Liverpool to the brink of financial collapse. In fact, Liverpool almost went into administration until FSG swooped in, and brought stability. FSG also brought Andy Carroll, the antithesis of a stable footballer in 2011 for a record £35 million.
This brings us to the current era, with £43.9 million spent on Mohamed Salah to bring him from Roma in 2017 and £75 million for Virgil van Dijk six months later from Southampton. Both of these signings had a transformative effect on Liverpool. The Reds went on to end the 30-year league title drought and also won the Champions League after 14 years.
As the 2022 summer transfer window approaches, there are signs that this window could be another landmark one for The Reds. Since Liverpool signed van Dijk, the elite clubs have spent exorbitant sums for transfers to various degrees of success. However, FSG must back Liverpool as our transfer department is one which shouldn’t go scampering for funds. Indeed, a marquee signing could push Liverpool to the next level.
Given these facts, it isn’t difficult to predict that van Dijk’s transfer record won’t last much longer.