A lot has changed over the years since a number of Liverpool players were named in FourFourTwo’s top 100 Young Players of 2001.
We have seen Liverpool produce some incredible players over the course of the Premier League era. Steven McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, and Steven Gerrard are a few to name. They all famously starred for the Reds after bursting onto the scene in the nineties.
Meanwhile, the likes of Dominic Matteo and David Thompson also broke through at the same time.
However, today, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, and Caoimhin Kelleher are vital members of Klopp’s first-team squad after graduating from the Academy,
Moreover, the likes of Harvey Elliot and Stefan Bajcetic snapped up for the youth ranks during their mid-teens.
It doesn’t seem to stop there as Ben Doak, Bobby Clark, Conor Bradley, and Jarell Quansah all hoping to be the next players to take decisive first-team steps.
List of Liverpool academy players failing to make a mark
To be honest, the Reds’ academy hasn’t always been the ‘gold mine’ that it is today. There was a lot of criticism over how Gerrard was the last graduate to become a key first-team player.
Although not spoken about much, the nineties was as successful as Manchester United’s class of ’92. Many were baffled by Liverpool’s failure to produce the likes of Gerrard, Owen, or Carragher.
But it took a lot of changes over the course of many years under the management of Rafa Benitez and Brenden Rodgers. However, it now seems like it has truly got back on its path under Klopp.
But the Reds did boast a number of highly-rated youngsters in their academy back in 2001. They were listed in FourFourTwo’s list of 100 best footballers in the world, but failed to live up to expectations.
There were 6 Liverpool players featured in the list, with all placing in the top 40 and two in the top 10.
Meanwhile, three future Liverpool players would make up the top five, with one future academy signing taking their overall contingent to 10.
However, looking back, it seems like only one of those could actually be claimed to have been one of the best stars of their generation.
Now looking back at the list, we could say that things never happened the way it was predicted. Just to paint a picture, the Ballon d’Or winner, Kaka was placed 95th in that list.
Reds’ players list placed in top 100
Breaking into the eighties, we have our first future Liverpool player. Ramon Calliste. He joined Liverpool from Man Utd in 2005, after winning FA Youth Cup with them. Moreover, he was the top reserves’ goalkeeper in 2005/06 at Anfield.
However, he joined Scunthorpe United after just one season, on the advice of national team manager John Toshack.
But to his dismay, he dislocated his ankle in his first pre-season and never lived up to his expectations.
Moving on, the first Liverpool player was Chris Kirkland who was placed 38th. He was even tipped to be the future England number 1.
The goalkeeper became the ‘most expensive GK’ in British transfer history when he signed for the Reds from Coventry in a £6m deal.
Although he achieved this feat at just 20 years of age, injuries would ultimately derail his time at Anfield. However, he won the UCL in 2005 but only made 45 appearances in two years for the Reds.
Later, he moved clubs, Wigan Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday, Preston North End and Bury. He finally retired in 2016 after a four-year battle with depression. In fact, he now works closely with the LFC Foundation.
Next in line is the French defender Gregory Vignal, who made 20 appearances after joining in September 2000.
Although he was a regular at the beginning of the 2001/02 season, a fractured foot derailed his progress. But after a few loan moves, he joined Portsmouth in 2005 and finally retired in 2013.
The 21st Liverpool player was Milan Baros who burst into the scene at Anfield after he scored 12 goals in the 2002/03 season.
He even won the Golden Boot at Euro 2004 while recovering from a broken ankle that he suffered in 2003.
Players in the top 20 of the list
In the 14th place was John Welsh, who was ahead of Andres Iniesta in place 20. He was tipped to be the ‘next Gerrard The Welsh international never lived up to the hype and made just 10 appearances before joining Hull.
In the top 10 are the French cousins, Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle who are ranked ninth and seventh respectively.
Being on loan for two years, they moved to Anfield in 2003 and would play their part in Reds’ UCL victory in 2005. However, they never lived up to their expectations and retired in 2021 and 2019 respectively.
In the 5th spot is Jermaine Pennant who was then of Arsenal and joined Liverpool from Birmingham in 2006. He joined little over a year after serving 30 days in prison for drink-driving, driving while disqualified, and driving without insurance.
However, he made 81 appearances, recording three goals and 17 assists, in two and a half seasons.
Moreover, he was the star player in his initial days but later fell out with Benitez. He was loaned in 2009 to Portsmouth and after a few transfers, he finally retired with non-league Billericay Town.
Liverpool players in top 3
Finally, the highest-rated player, who did live up to his expectations was Fernando Torres. The Spaniard became the Reds’ record signing when bought for £20m from Atletico Madrid in 2007.
For three years was the best striker on the planet as he scored an incredible 81 goals from 142 appearances. He won the Champions League, World Cup, and European Championships as well.
But then injuries took hold, and he controversially left for Chelsea in a £50m deal in January 2011. After a few other failed transfers, he finally retired in 2019 with Japanese side, Sagan Tosu.
Now, the number one player in the 100-man shortlist is Djibril Cisse. Liverpool signed the Frenchman for a club-record £14m from Auxerre in 2004.
He was signed by Gerard Houllier and after having won the lot, he struggled to convince Benitez. He suffered his first of two broken legs in 2004 and was later loaned in 2006.
Fortunately for Liverpool though, their Academy is a little more accomplished these days than compared to the early days.