The past few years has seen a number of players make the move from the South Coast to Merseyside, I thought it’d be interesting to look at those, as well as those who have gone the opposite way or played for both teams during their career.
What better way to start than with a European Cup winner. Keegan joined the Reds in 1971 after Bill Shankly had spotted his talent whilst at Scunthorpe United. It took him just twelve minutes on his debut to score his first goal as the Reds beat Nottingham Forest. The Doncaster-born forward scored 100 goals in 328 appearances during his six-year spell at Anfield, winning seven major honours in the process. This included three First Division titles, two UEFA Cups and a European Cup.
A three-year run at Hamburg followed before Keegan signed for the Saints, but only after Liverpool had refused to activate the buy-back clause that was in his contract whilst at the German side. His time at The Dell saw him win the PFA Player of the Year award in the 1981/82 season, despite his side slumping from top of the table to seventh after winning just three games in the last three months of the campaign. Keegan scored 42 in all competitions during his two-years at the Saints before completing a move to Newcastle United.
After signing from Vancouver Whitecaps back in 1981, Grobbelaar more than acquired legendary status during his time at Anfield. The ex-Zimbabwean international made over 600 appearances for the Reds during his thirteen-year spell at the club. The flamboyant ‘keeper was given his first opportunity following Ray Clemence’s move to Tottenham, however his first few months saw him make a number of errors which led to heavy criticism.
He recovered though and helped Bob Paisley’s team win the league that season, the first of Grobbelaar’s six First Division titles at the Reds. His trophy collection didn’t stop there, as he also won three FA Cups, three League Cups, five FA Charity Shields, a Football League Super Cup and one European Cup. The 1984 European Cup success is very much remembered by Grobbelaar’s iconic ‘Spaghetti Legs’ distraction technique which is still being replicated over thirty years later.
A decade after that final, he completed a move to Southampton on a free transfer. However his time on the South Coast was very much clouded by match-fixing allegations and he only managed to make 40 appearances during his two years at the Saints, with 38 of them coming in his first season.
Jumping forward over ten years comes a 201cm striker who holds the record for the most headed goals in Premier League history. After failing to save the Saints from relegation back in 2005, despite scoring 12 times, Liverpool and Rafa Benitez splashed out almost £7m to acquire the services of Crouch.
He got off to a slow start at Anfield and it took him nineteen games to get his first goal for the club, a deflected strike against Wigan Athletic. He ended up getting 13 goals in 49 appearances that season as the Reds lifted the FA Cup, with the big man scoring 3 times in the competition. Just months later, Crouch headed in Craig Bellamy’s cross to win the Community Shield in a 2-1 victory over Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium. In total, the current Stoke City target man scored 42 goals in 134 appearances for Liverpool and is very much still held in high regard by Kopites.
The Croatian defender first arrived in England when he signed for Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton side for a free of £8.5m from Lyon. Lovren’s first goal for his new club actually came against Liverpool, in a 1-0 victory away at Anfield. He featured 31 times that season, scoring twice in the process as Southampton finished in an impressive eighth spot. As for the Reds, they narrowly missed out on the title with their defensive record probably being the main reason why they fell short.
How did Brendan Rodgers attempt to solve the problem? By splashing out £20m on Dejan Lovren. Despite playing 38 times, his opening season was a disappointment with the side finishing in sixth place. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp in October 2015 helped his form, and he formed a solid partnership with Mamadou Sakho as the Reds reached the Europa League final. Lovren scored the dramatic winner as Liverpool beat Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-final of the competition, a goal that will go undoubtedly go down in Anfield history.
Since then it’s been very much hit and miss for the player, and his game against Tottenham last season will probably go down as one of the worst of his career. Klopp hooked the player after just thirty-one minutes with Liverpool 2-1 down at Wembley, with Lovren at fault for both goals. However, the last four months has seen him feature in not only a Champions League final but also a World Cup final, and despite losing both it’s still a great achievement for the man who describes himself as ‘one of the best defenders in the world’.
We finish with another one of the Reds current players, and certainly one of their most influential over the past couple of seasons. Mane moved to England a year later than Lovren did, completing a move to the Saints from Red Bull Salzburg for a fee of £12m in 2014.
The Senegalese international had an impressive opening season at St Mary’s, scoring 10 goals in 32 games. This included his famous 2 minute and 56 second hat-trick against Aston Villa, beating Robbie Fowler’s previous record for the quickest in Premier League history. Mane enjoyed a better second season as he scored 15 times in 43 games, three of which came against the Reds. Jurgen Klopp must have been impressed by what he had seen from Mane as he decided to spend £34m on the forward, making him the then most expensive African footballer of all time.
The ex-Metz man’s debut for Liverpool was certainly not one to forget as he scored an incredible solo goal to put his side 4-1 up against Arsenal at the Emirates. Mane finished his first season with 13 goals in 27 appearances, the highlight being an injury time winner against fierce rivals Everton at Goodison Park. His performances helped the Reds secure a Champions League spot and subsequently earned him the Liverpool Player of the Year award.
The following campaign saw him get off to a difficult start when he was shown a straight red card against Manchester City in September. He managed to recover though and formed a deadly front three, along with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, that had defences all over Europe quivering. The terrific trio helped guide the club to a Champions League final and despite being edged out by Real Madrid, Mane did manage to grab an equaliser to get Jurgen Klopp’s team back into the game.
His explosive form from last season has managed to carry over into this one and he currently stands as the joint top scorer in the division, hoping to extend on his tally of four goals against Southampton this weekend.