Gravenberch, Szoboszlai, Wataru next: Liverpool signings from Bundesliga ranked with obvious no.1…

Will Ford
Firmino, Keita, Berger Liverpool

Ryan Gravenberch, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo make it 20 Liverpool imports from the Bundesliga during the Premier League era. Here’s how we’ve ranked all 17 who came before from Germany. It’s not been a hugely happy hunting ground for the Reds, though there have been a couple of absolute gems…

17) Alou Diarra (Bayern Munich, free)
Diarra was technically a Liverpool player for three years but never put on the shirt with loans to Le Havre, Bastia and Lens before a permanent £2.5m move to the latter. Profit on that.


16) Alex Manninger (Augsburg, free)
Also didn’t play a game but is spared last place by virtue of him joining Liverpool as a 38-year-old very much in the Scott Carson role.


15) Sean Dundee (Karlsruher SC, £2.5m)
Bought by Liverpool for a fair whack having been relegated to Bundesliga 2, and played a grand total of 56 minutes before returning to Germany to join Stuttgart.


14) Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund, free)
Started just three games before heading back to Germany, but is reported to have played a pivotal role in the loan signing of Ozan Kabak. Cheer fella.


13) Erik Meijer (Bayer Leverkusen, free)
Bayer Leverkusen to Liverpool to Preston perhaps wasn’t the desired career path for Meijer, who scored precisely zero Premier League goals as a striker from 23 appearances.


12) Andriy Voronin (Bayer Leverkusen, free)
Signed in the same summer as Fernando Torres, Voronin didn’t do quite as well as the man he was bought to play just behind despite getting a goal and an assist in his first Premier League start. The Ukrainian managed just a further five goals and five assists in 39 appearances for the Reds.


11) Loris Karius (Mainz, £5m)
In the game that must haunt him daily, Karius essentially gifted the Champions League to Real Madrid in 2018. Liverpool would probably have one more of those top European gongs had Alisson arrived a tiny bit sooner.

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius reacts after a mistake in the 2018 Champions League final


10) Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg, £4m)
He wasn’t terrible but was also very much a placeholder for Van Dijk, who arrived in the January after Klavan joined.


9) Emre Can (Bayer Leverkusen, £11m)
Liverpool got a hell of a lot better when Can left for Juventus. He scored some memorable goals for the Reds, and many saw allowing him to leave on a free transfer as a mistake. We didn’t.

But Liverpool went from fourth with 75 points with Can playing the majority of the Premier League games in 2017/18, to second with 97 points in 2018/19, before winning the the title the following season. Fabinho was quite the upgrade.


8) Karl-Heinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund, £2m)
A name many of you may never have heard and most won’t have heard in years, but one that we must full-name to fully ride the wave of late 90s Premier League heyday nostalgia that floods back. Karl-Heinz Riedle wasn’t prolific for Liverpool, but provided more than perfectly decent support for Michael Owen for a couple of seasons while the young Englishman bagged goal after goal.


7) Naby Keita (RB Leipzig, £52m)
Liverpool fans got very, very upset when we claimed Keita’s ‘time was up’ nearly four years ago. Somehow, Keita’s hung on until this summer, barely playing and looking pretty average whenever he has. He’s one of those players who can very occasionally look really very good, making his middling position in this list all the more frustrating.


6) Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig, £35m)
Got some classic ricks in him but has everything a centre-back need to do well in the Premier League in spades. Liverpool’s pressing concern is finding a suitable partner for him in defence before Virgil van Dijk is entirely shot.


5) Markus Babbel (Bayern Munich, free)
The centre-back played almost every minute in his debut campaign as Liverpool won the League Cup, FA Cup and Uefa Cup in 2000/01, before contracting the rare Guillain-Barre syndrome, which resulted in him being temporarily paralysed from the waist down.

Babbel stayed at Liverpool for another couple of seasons but barely played having fought for his life, before moving to Blackburn in the summer of 2003.


4) Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich, £20m)
It wasn’t entirely clear when Thiago arrived how he would fit into Liverpool’s manic midfield, and questions remained over his suitability through much of his first season, with the media often giving him undue praise while Reds fans defended him against rivals who mocked his at-times-ponderous style.

But he was very good last season, proving his worth as opposition teams sat back, unlocking defences with his cunning through balls and illustrating his football smarts on a regular basis.


3) Patrik Berger (Borussia Dortmund, £3m)
38 goals and 28 assists in 196 games aren’t the sort of numbers that would make you sit up and take notice, but Berger existed in a simpler time before the obsession with goal contributions. He was a wonderful footballer, worth the admission fee alone.


2) Joel Matip (Schalke, free)
Well up there in the reckoning as the greatest Premier League free transfer of all time, Matip has, very unfairly, received nowhere near the level and frequency of praise of centre-back partner Virgil van Dijk, and yet it’s him who’s essentially had to do the defensive work of two with Trent Alexander-Arnold pretending to be a right-back alongside him.


1) Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim, £38m)
“Your football brain is incredible,” Jurgen Klopp said to Firmino at the Brazilian’s leaving party in May, as he attempted to sum up what has turned him into a bona fide Liverpool legend. Another player whose contribution can’t be boiled down to numbers, Firmino has combined extraordinary skill with relentless effort in eight glorious years at Liverpool, in which they’ve won everything possible, and quite possibly would have won nothing without him.

John Nicholson: Jack-of-all-trades Szoboszlai will make Klopp’s Liverpool tick once more