Football Features

Ranked: Every Liverpool signing since Michael Edwards became sporting director

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:30, 8 January 2021 | Updated: 19:31, 8 January 2022

The end of the 2021/22 season will also mark the end of an era at Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp isn’t leaving (yet), but someone almost as important to Liverpool’s success over the past few years is stepping down: sporting director Michael Edwards.

Edwards originally joined Liverpool in 2011 as their head of analytics. After earning the trust of owners John Henry, Mike Gordon and Tom Werner, he was later promoted to director of technical performance, then technical director and, finally, sporting director in November 2016.

In the subsequent five years, Edwards has overseen a number of big changes to Liverpool’s squad, recruiting stars who would help them win the Premier League and Champions League.

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So which signings can Edwards claim credit for? And who’s his biggest success? We ranked all 21 Liverpool signings since Edwards became sporting director below.

Only first-team players signed after Edwards took over as sporting director have been included, excluding the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Disagree with any of our picks? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

21. Ben Davies

  • Signed from: Preston North End
  • Reported fee: £1.6m
  • Liverpool appearances: 0

Liverpool experienced a centre-back crisis last season. Virgil van Dijk was injured long-term and Jurgen Klopp’s other options all took turns in the treatment room. So in January 2021 they signed Ben Davies from Preston North End for just under £2m, a respectable amount for someone who would be a rotation centre-back. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t even that. Davies did not play for Liverpool and only made the bench eight times, four of which came in the Champions League where Klopp was allowed to name 12 subs. He’s still a Liverpool player and only 26 but is currently on loan at Sheffield United.

20. Andy Lonergan

  • Signed from: Free agent
  • Reported fee: Free
  • Liverpool appearances: 0

Like Davies, Andy Lonergan never played for Liverpool. He has since left the club on a permanent basis (to Everton of all teams).

That said, Lonergan was never really expected to do anything at Liverpool, having been signed when Alisson was out injured and Adrian was the club’s only goalkeeper.

Experience is always key, though, even when a player doesn’t play, so it was understandable that Liverpool made this move.

19. Tony Gallacher

  • Signed from: Falkirk
  • Reported fee: £200,000
  • Liverpool appearances: 1

The Scottish left-back was signed in 2018 as an 18-year-old for £200,000 and has made just one appearance for Liverpool, which came in the 5-0 EFL Cup defeat to Aston Villa in 2019, where Klopp had to name an inexperienced squad as all the seniors were in Qatar for the Club World Cup.

He may not make it at Liverpool, especially looking at the players ahead of him at left-back. But considering his age and the fee, you can’t call it a bad signing.

18. Sepp van den Berg

  • Signed from: PEC Zwolle
  • Reported fee: £1.3m
  • Liverpool appearances: 4

Another signing for the future, Liverpool parted ways with £1.3m to sign Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle in 2019. The Dutch centre-back is obviously quite a way down the pecking order at Anfield but has made four appearances for Klopp’s men, albeit three in the EFL Cup.

Van den Berg is currently on loan at Preston North End, having moved as part of the Davies deal, and gaining valuable experience. He only recently turned 20, so there is still an opportunity for Van den Berg to make it at Liverpool and jump up this list. If not, they’ll probably sell him for a 1,000% profit.

17. Ozan Kabak

  • Signed from: Schalke
  • Reported fee: Loan
  • Liverpool appearances: 13

Another centre-back arrival from January 2021, Liverpool took less risk with Ozan Kabak than they did Davies and actually played him. The Turkish defender was signed on loan from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke and formed an unlikely centre-back pairing with Nathaniel Phillips that did relatively well, helping them secure a top-four finish in the Premier League before his Anfield career was (quite predictably, given the events of that season) cut short by injury. A short-term deal that did its job.

16. Dominic Solanke

  • Signed from: Chelsea
  • Reported fee: Undisclosed
  • Liverpool appearances: 27

Dominic Solanke, the player, didn’t settle at Liverpool. Based on performances and on-field impact alone, he’d be closer to the bottom. But the Englishman’s signing actually proved a good bit of business. Solanke joined Liverpool from Chelsea, looking for more first-team action after his contract with the Blues was up. As he was under the age of 24 at the time of his signing, Liverpool still had to pay a compensation fee to Chelsea (per Premier League and EFL rules) but that was believed to be somewhere between £3m and £10m. Solanke played 27 times for Liverpool during his two-year stay and scored just one goal, which makes the fact they sold him to Bournemouth for £19m even more impressive.

15. Ibrahima Konate

  • Signed from: RB Leipzig
  • Reported fee: £36m
  • Liverpool appearances: 11

Ibrahima Konate was the star (and only) arrival of the 2021’s summer transfer window, another centre-back brought in to set Liverpool up for the future. The Frenchman came highly rated from RB Leipzig and Liverpool did have some competition for his signature, but the Reds got their man by triggering his release clause.

Konate’s start to life at Anfield has been slow. Behind Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip in the pecking order, he has 11 appearances so far and ranks relatively low here solely because he hasn’t had time to show what he can do, but he’s only 22 so will undoubtedly shoot up the list as time goes on.

14. Takumi Minamino

  • Signed from: Red Bull Salzburg
  • Reported fee: £7.25m
  • Liverpool appearances: 44

Takumi Minamino joined Liverpool in January 2020, having impressed against the Reds in the Champions League and, at the time, his £7.25m fee from Red Bull Salzburg looked as though it could be a steal. Things haven’t worked out for the Japanese winger, though. He has made 44 appearances for Liverpool in two years, and spent the second half of last season on loan at Southampton.

Minamino is now back at Liverpool and has played just 525 minutes across all competitions so far this season, with the majority of that coming in the EFL Cup. According to his manager, he is in “an outstanding moment, training-wise” and we are yet to see the best of him.

13. Adrian

  • Signed from: Free agent
  • Reported fee: Free
  • Liverpool appearances: 25

Based purely on money spent, you can’t really fault Liverpool’s move for Adrian as a backup goalkeeper when Alisson either needed a rest or was injured. He was in goal for Liverpool’s 2019 Super Cup win over Chelsea on penalties and has kept seven clean sheets in 25 appearances.

It’s what Adrian does when he isn’t keeping clean sheets that drags him down this list, most notably against Atletico Madrid in last season’s Champions League last-16 exit.

12. Konstantinos Tsimikas

  • Signed from: Olympiacos
  • Reported fee: £11.75m
  • Liverpool appearances: 22

One of Liverpool’s many strengths are their full-backs, boasting two of the best in the world, but they still need depth and that was where Konstantinos Tsimikas came in. The Greek left-back was signed from Olympiacos to provide cover for Andrew Robertson and that’s exactly what he has done. In his first season with Liverpool, Tsimikas played just seven games, but he has already bettered that in 2021/22 with 15 appearances while Robertson was injured and suspended. Tsimikas more than covered for Robertson too, with good performances, and will be slightly unfortunate to drop back out on the Scot’s return.

11. Naby Keita

  • Signed from: RB Leipzig
  • Reported fee: £48m
  • Liverpool appearances: 92

Even though they paid £48m for him, Liverpool were seen as winners when they secured the signing of Naby Keita in 2017 from RB Leipzig. Even if they had to wait one year for him after confirming the deal.

Three-and-a-half years on from his arrival at Anfield, Liverpool fans are still waiting for the Guinean midfielder to truly arrive. Despite playing 92 times for Liverpool, Keita is yet to make good on all that promise. There’s still time, of course. But there’s also a sense that every time he looks set to cement a place in the first team, injury strikes (the thrashing of Manchester United this season, for example).

10. Thiago

  • Signed from: Bayern Munich
  • Reported fee: £25m
  • Liverpool appearances: 44

Signed in the summer of 2020, Thiago would have been a welcome addition to most midfields in world football, so Liverpool did well to add him to what was (and still is) a relatively thin roster in terms of numbers and quality. And for a relative bargain fee, at that.

But, as with Keita, fans are still waiting to see the Thiago they came to appreciate at Bayern Munich, with the Spaniard only being able to show glimpses of his quality amid the usual injury problems.

9. Xherdan Shaqiri

  • Signed from: Stoke City
  • Reported fee: £13m
  • Liverpool appearances: 63

Some smirked when Liverpool signed Xherdan Shaqiri from relegated Stoke City in 2018 for £13m, but over his three-year stay at the club he proved a useful squad player. The Swiss Power Cube played 63 times for Liverpool in total, scoring eight goals and recording nine assists, setting up Georginio Wijnaldum for the third goal in that incredible comeback against Barcelona. You could argue that without Shaqiri there would be no ‘corner taken quickly’ moment, all the more because he provided the decoy short option for Trent Alexander-Arnold’s moment of set-piece genius.

Then there was the brace against Manchester United at Anfield in the Premier League, providing Liverpool fans with fond memories, even if the man himself may not have been happy with his playing time.

8. Harvey Elliott

  • Signed from: Fulham
  • Reported fee: £2m
  • Liverpool appearances: 13

There is every reason to believe Harvey Elliott could be one of the best signings of the Edwards era at Liverpool. The Englishman is the youngest-ever player in Premier League history, having made his debut for Fulham aged 16 years and 30 days, an appearance earned through sheer quality.

Liverpool were the team to lure Elliott away from Fulham and, after an excellent season on loan at Blackburn, Elliott looked set to be a key member of the Reds squad this season. Even though injury has cut that progress, there’s no denying Elliott will return and be a massive element for Liverpool in the future.

7. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

  • Signed from: Arsenal
  • Reported fee: £35m
  • Liverpool appearances: 127

Another Liverpool midfield signing, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the Reds from Arsenal having grown tired of being played at wing-back. Liverpool parted with £35m for the Englishman and arguments can definitely be made to say he was worth it.

When Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit, he is one of Liverpool’s most dangerous goal threats from midfield (possibly even their most, in an attacking sense). Cast your minds back to his performance in the 4-3 win over Manchester City in 2017/18, in which he opened the scoring.

The main thing keeping Oxlade-Chamberlain from featuring higher up this list is the injury record that has denied him a long run in the starting XI. Inconsistency in his performances has followed, often stemming from a desire to, as Klopp puts it, “over-achieve” and speed up play at inappropriate moments.

6. Diogo Jota

  • Signed from: Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Reported fee: £41m
  • Liverpool appearances: 54

Sitting just outside the top five is a player who has done everything asked of him by Klopp since his arrival. Diogo Jota joined from Wolves for over £40m in the summer of 2020 and has already played 54 times for the club despite having to compete with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

His 54 appearances have come across the forward line, and Jota has scored 25 goals for Liverpool, 10 of which have come in the Premier League already this season as the False No.9.

Still only 25, Jota is nonetheless “a very mature man,” according to Klopp, who recently explained to reporters: “It’s not easy to improve us, but Diogo did definitely.

“He is actually a player made for our style – pretty intense, technically good, really fast, good in the air, both feet really good.”

5. Fabinho

  • Signed from: Monaco
  • Reported fee: £39m
  • Liverpool appearances: 142

Now, onto the big boys.

Fabinho was perhaps still unknown by some when he joined from Monaco in 2018 having been part of the side that won Ligue 1 a year earlier. But it quickly became a case of ‘If you don’t know, now you know.’ Within a year, Gary Neville was naming Fabinho the Premier League’s best holding midfielder.

To assistant coach Pep Lijnders, he was ‘the lighthouse within Liverpool’s organised chaos’  who truly helped the team take control of matches from the base of their midfield.

4. Andrew Robertson

  • Signed from: Hull City
  • Reported fee: £8m
  • Liverpool appearances: 196

On fee alone, Andrew Robertson could well be the best signing of the Edwards era. Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool signed the Scottish left-back from Hull City in 2017, even though the fee was a measly £8m. But any doubters were quickly proven wrong as, in more competitive surroundings, Robertson showed his true quality at left-back.

Fast forward four years, Robertson is “the best left-back in the world,” in the eyes of Klopp. He earned this acclaim by providing 40 assists in 146 Premier League games for Liverpool. Since his arrival at Anfield, only three players have set up more Premier League goals than Robertson.

3. Alisson

  • Signed from: AS Roma
  • Reported fee: £67m
  • Liverpool appearances: 154

Another game-changer, Alisson joined Liverpool just after their Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid and would prove the final piece to solve Jurgen Klopp’s defensive puzzle. Within a year, the Brazilian had kept a clean sheet in a Champions League final, helping Liverpool to their sixth European Cup and providing the basis for their Premier League triumph a year later. In 154 appearances for Liverpool across all competitions, Alisson has kept 70 clean sheets and conceded just 126 goals at an average of 0.82 per match. Let’s not forget the goal he scored, too, a last-minute winner against West Brom to essentially secure Champions League football for Liverpool this season. One of the best goalkeepers in the world.

2. Virgil van Dijk

  • Signed from: Southampton
  • Reported fee: £75m
  • Liverpool appearances: 151

Before Alisson, Van Dijk was the defensive signing Liverpool needed to turn things around and while the Brazilian can be seen as the last brick in the wall, his centre-back teammate was more important. Before Van Dijk joined, Liverpool’s defence was the main thing holding them back from the success they should have been achieving with the attacking talent in their team.

“The Liverpool before Van Dijk and the one after him, it’s a completely different setup,” said legendary Manchester City centre-back and captain Vincent Kopmany while going as far to name him the best defender in Premier League history.

His arrival helped Liverpool produce a 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield, win the Premier League and Champions League. On a personal level, Van Dijk won the 2018/19 Player of the Season award, was the Ballon d’Or runner-up and, of course, went on a run of 50 league games without being dribbled past.

1. Mohamed Salah

  • Signed from: AS Roma
  • Reported fee: £39m
  • Liverpool appearances: 229

The undisputed king. The Egyptian King. The best signing of the Michael Edwards era, without a doubt, and with basically zero chance of anyone overtaking him. Mohamed Salah’s arrival from Roma in 2017 may be the best business Liverpool have ever done, even when you take into account the £39m they spent. That £39m bought Liverpool 148 goals in 229 games across all competitions. Ridiculous, when you consider Salah is a winger.

Telling the story of his signing, Klopp said: “Michael Edwards, Dave Fallows and Barry [Hunter], they were really in my ear and were on it ‘Come on, come on, Mo Salah, he’s the solution!’.”

Salah has scored over 100 times in the Premier League alone for Liverpool, becoming the division’s highest-scoring African player, including 32 goals in his first campaign with the Reds to set a single-season record in the competition. He’s also made the final three for FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player award for 2021. Salah has broken so many Liverpool records and will probably break a few more before he does leave Anfield, which will be a devastating moment for the club.

So there’s the list of post-2016 Liverpool signings, but what about Edwards’ favourite player? He might not even be mentioned above.

“One of the other questions I always get asked is ‘Who was/is your favourite player?’” reads Edwards’ farewell letter.

“That’s a really difficult question to answer so I won’t even try. All I will say is my dog is called Bobby.”