Liverpool have provided a platform for a number of talented young players to thrive in the Premier League era with the likes of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Raheem Sterling, all starring for the club in their teenage years.
However, there have been plenty of other similarly well thought of prospects who, for one reason or another, struggled to get going at Anfield whatsoever. Some went on to enjoy success at clubs elsewhere, while others found it difficult to live up their early career hype.
Over the years, Liverpool’s various managers have all scoured the transfer market to sign ‘the next big thing’ with a whole host of highly-rated young players opting to join one of England’s most successful clubs in a bid to make their name in professional football.
And while some such as Sterling – signed from QPR when in 2010 – went on to be big hits in the first team, others failed to make the grade.
With that in mind, here are ten young players that Liverpool signed but had no idea what to do with.
Anthony Le Tallec
Signed from: Le Havre (2001)
Liverpool apps: 30
Current club: Orleans
Snapped up after helping France win the U17 World Cup in 2001 and coming second in the Golden Ball award at the same tournament, Anthony Le Tallec was tipped to become a regular for Les Bleus’ senior team after joining the Reds.
It didn’t work out for him on Merseyside, though, perhaps partially because neither Gerard Houllier nor Rafa Benitez seemed to know what to do with him, loaning him to Le Havre, Saint-Etienne, Sunderland, Sochaux and Le Mans, during his seven years at the club.
He’s no playing in France’s Ligue 2 with Orleans.
Florent Sinama Pongolle
Signed from: Le Havre (2001)
Liverpool apps: 72
Current club: Chainat Hornbill
Le Tallec’s teammate at Le Havre and France, as well as his cousin, Florent Sinama Pongolle was arguably even more highly rated after top-scoring at the U17 World Cup with nine goals, in a competition that included Carlos Tevez and Fernando Torres.
Sinama Pongolle fared better than his family member at Liverpool, racking up 72 appearances in all competitions for the club but he found replicating his goalscoring form from his early career difficult at Liverpool, managing only nine goals.
Signed from: Atletico Banfield (2006)
Liverpool apps: 8
Current club: Unattached (most recently AC Milan)
Rafa Benitez generally has a good track record when it comes to signing defensive players and Gabriel Paletta was tipped for a big future when he joined from Banfield in Argentina.
However, he was rarely afforded an opportunity in the Liverpool first-team, making only three senior appearances before heading back the country of his birth to sign for Boca Juniors. He went on to play internationally for Italy at the World Cup in 2014.
Signed from: Ajax (2007)
Liverpool apps: 146
Current club: Besiktas
Arguably the most contentious name on the list due to the fact he represented Liverpool just shy of 150 times over the course of three-and-a-half seasons.
However, considering Babel was hyped up as ‘the next Thierry Henry’ upon his arrival after firing the Netherlands to U21 European Championship glory weeks before, he didn’t live up to expectations.
Part of the reason for that was Benitez persisting with playing him out wide when perhaps he should have been nurtured into a central striker as Henry had been.
Upon leaving Liverpool, Babel embarked on a somewhat nomadic career all over the globe but he seems to have finally settled down with Besiktas as he has scored consistently for them since joining in January 2017.
Signed from: Rangers (2010)
Liverpool apps: 9
Current club: Colorado Rapids
Regarded as one of the most promising central defenders in British football after establishing himself as a regular in the Rangers team at the age of 17, Danny Wilson made the move south of the border with his compatriot Kenny Dalglish playing a key role in the deal.
Wilson’s progress stalled massively at Anfield, though, as he found it hard to break into the first-team and on the handful of occasions he did so, he was played out of position at left back.
Signed from: Nacional (2011)
Liverpool apps: 24
Current club: Sporting CP
After playing a starring role in Uruguay’s Copa America win in 2011, Sebastian Coates was a man in demand and it was Liverpool who eventually beat the likes of Manchester City to his signature in August that year.
Considering he was starting for one of the best nations in the world at the time, it was expected that Coates would quickly become a key player for the club. However, a wonder goal against QPR aside, he failed to live up to the hype.
Signed from: Benfica (2014)
Liverpool apps: 34
Current club: Anderlecht (on loan from Liverpool)
With money burning a hole in his pocket following Luis Suarez’s sale to Barcelona, Brendan Rodgers sanctioned the £20m signing of Lazar Markovic from Benfica after one successful season in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Lauded as a skilfull winger upon his arrival, Markovic looked like a deer in headlights when he took to the field but he was certainly not helped by Rodgers’ deployment of him in an unfamiliar wing-back role.
After enjoying a reasonably successful loan spell with Hull last season, Markovic went back to Anfield but his prospects of re-establishing himself appear to be slim to non-existent and he was loaned to Anderlecht during the last transfer window.
Signed from: Barcelona (2007)
Liverpool apps: 17
Current club: Getafe
Now this was a player Liverpool fans had extremely high hopes for.
Snapped up from Barcelona, where he had learned his trade in the famed La Masia academy, Dani Pacheco adapted to English football quickly while playing for Liverpool reserve side.
He also impressed during a loan spell with Norwich, even helping the Canaries achieve promotion to the Premier League in 2012, but for some reason, he couldn’t take that next step up at Liverpool. He’s now back in Spain playing for Getafe.
Signed from: Sevilla (2013)
Liverpool apps: 12
Current club: Lazio
Another with Barcelona connections, Luis Alberto arrived at Anfield via a stint with Sevilla where he had predominantly played for the B team.
Rodgers integrated him into the first-team at the start of the 2013-14 season but following a few underwhelming fleeting appearances, he was benched and therefore, missing out on their title challenge.
It has taken him a while but Alberto seems to be finally fulfilling his early promise with Lazio in Serie A.
Signed from: Sporting CP (2013)
Liverpool apps: 3
Current club: Reading
A bizarre signing, this. Yet another player who had produced the goods for his country at youth level and started his career in one Europe’s best academies with Sporting in Portugal, Tiago Ilori joined Liverpool in the summer of 2013.
Although he was bigged up at the time, Ilori didn’t make a single first-team appearance for the club in his debut campaign and had to wait until January 2016 to finally play for Liverpool in a couple of cup games. He’s now in the Championship with Reading.