Liverpool number 10s of the Premier League era — ranked

The number 10 shirt is among the most iconic in world football. Some of the most talented players ever to have graced a pitch have worn it: Pelé, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane...

Typically given to a creative attacker, one thing these famous number 10s all have in common is an attacking flair ... a certain je ne sais quoi.

Unsurprisingly, then, this number often weighs heavy on the back of those wearing it. And even at an iconic football club like Liverpool, there have been just as many duds as legends to have donned it.

How will the latest incumbent, new signing Alexis Mac Allister, cope with the pressure?

Here, we rank how his seven predecessors from the Premier League era got on.


7. Joe Cole

On paper, Joe Cole's free transfer from Chelsea in July 2010 looked like the perfect signing to get the Roy Hodgson era under way. Unfortunately, it was nothing short of a disaster.

After getting sent off on his Premier League debut for the club in a 1-1 draw against Arsenal, the writing was already on the wall.

His post-suspension return to the team coincided with the Reds' slide towards the relegation zone. Liverpool were in 18th place when injury ruled Cole out for over a month; by the time he had returned to full fitness, Hodgson had gone and Kenny Dalglish was in the dugout.

Dalglish clearly didn't fancy the Englishman, who rarely featured for the remainder of the season, before joining French side Lille on loan.

Despite starting the following season in new coach Brendan Rodgers' plans, Cole never got anywhere near to recapturing his Chelsea form and returned to West Ham on a free in January 2013.

6. Andriy Voronin

Signed as a free transfer on 1 July 2007, Andriy Voronin had forged a strong reputation in the Bundesliga with various clubs, but caught the eye during his three-year spell with Bayer Leverkusen.

Though never a prolific goalscorer (37 goals in 119 appearances), Reds' coach Rafa Benítez praised the Ukrainian's "game intelligence" and hoped that he would provide back-up — and at times a partner — for Fernando Torres.

Voronin made a good start to life at Anfield, scoring in three consecutive appearances against Toulouse, Sunderland and Derby. However, injuries took their toll and by the end of his first season, he was so out of favour that he ended up heading to Hertha Berlin on a season-long loan.

The following year, he returned for the start of the campaign, making mostly substitute appearances, before completing a January move to Dynamo Moscow.

5. John Barnes

John Barnes is a Liverpool legend, no mistake about that. But by the time the Premier League era began in 1992, Barnes was no longer the explosive winger that made him one of the standout performers of his generation — nor was he part of an all-conquering team anymore.

That said, the England international was still a key part of the Liverpool side as he entered his 30s. Injuries had taken their toll and Barnes was forced to adapt his game to become a more deep-lying playmaker (his goal return diminished accordingly) and mentor to up-and-coming talents such as Robbie Fowler, Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman.

Upon Ian Rush's departure, Barnes would become full-time captain — a role he occupied until he left to rejoin old teammate Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle on a free transfer in August 1997.

4. Luis García

He was only at Liverpool for three years, but what an impact he had!

The diminutive Spaniard (though still taller than "4ft 7in") was one of Benítez's first signings at the club when he joined from Barcelona in August 2004.

Luis García's impact was almost immediate, and he quickly became a fan favourite as he contributed with key goals during his first season, including a winning goal in the Merseyside derby.

However, his biggest contribution would come in the side's run to the 2005 Champions League final, scoring an excellent volley during the quarter-final win over Juventus and the infamous "ghost goal" against Chelsea which sent the Reds to Istanbul.

The next season wasn't as successful, but the Spaniard nonetheless helped Liverpool to the FA Cup final with a goal against Chelsea in the semi-final.

A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in January 2007 was ultimately the end for Luis García at Liverpool, but arguably, his contribution didn't end there. Some say that his return to Atlético Madrid that summer sweetened the deal for Fernando Torres to come the other way.

3. Philippe Coutinho

Looking at where his career is now, it's perhaps easy to forget how instrumental Philippe Coutinho was for Liverpool during his five-year spell.

Signed for just £8.5m from Benítez's Inter in January 2013, his and Daniel Sturridge's arrival in the same window kickstarted the Rodgers era.

After finishing seventh at the end of his first campaign, Liverpool were title contenders the following season. It seemed Coutinho had put the side on course for their first title in 24 years when his winning goal in a 3–2 win over Manchester City on 13 April 2014 put the Reds seven points ahead of City with four matches remaining. But we all know how that story ended...

With more experience under his belt, once Jürgen Klopp took over is when Coutinho's influence on the side grew. And with the signing of Sadio Mané in June 2016, the first great forward line of the Klopp era was born. Alongside Roberto Firmino, the trio scored 39 goals between them as the Reds secured their return to the Champions League.

The addition of Mohamed Salah the following summer saw the creation of the free-scoring Fab Four for a tantalisingly brief period in 2017, until the Brazilian's protracted move to Barcelona finally materialised for £105m the next January.

While the Reds successfully reinvested much of this cash in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, just imagine what that Coutinho-Firmino-Mané-Salah quartet could have achieved if they'd stayed together longer. Maybe they'd be building a statue of all four.

2. Michael Owen

Michael Owen is another player whose achievements with Liverpool are perhaps downplayed because of the manner of his departure, and eventual move to bitter rivals Manchester United.

But we mustn't forget that Owen enjoyed his peak years at Anfield and was one of the best players on the planet at the time.

Back-to-back Premier League Golden Boots in 1997/98 and 1998/99 as a teenager saw Owen become a mainstay for both Liverpool and England, but persistent hamstring injuries threatened to hold him back.

However, under the stewardship of Gérard Houllier, the team really played to his strengths, playing end-to-end counter-attacking football which unleashed his blistering pace, especially in the Cup-treble-winning season of 2000-01 in which he scored a memorable brace in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.

That season's performances led Owen to become the first English winner of the Ballon d'Or since Kevin Keegan was given the honour in 1979.

However, when Owen completed his move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2004, it left a bitter taste. After initially indicating he would sign a new contract, and a 14-month-long negotiation, he ended up signing for Los Blancos for a cut-price £8m, plus Antonio Núnez, as he was entering his final year.

1. Sadio Mané

Sadio Mané took on the legendary number 10 shirt following Coutinho's move to Barcelona and never looked back.

Mané joined from Southampton for a fee of £34 million and was worth every penny, forming part of Klopp's all-conquering side which won every trophy available to them.

He made an immediate impact, scoring spectacularly at the Emirates on his Premier League debut in a 4–3 win against Arsenal, perhaps made more memorable thanks to his celebrations jumping on Klopp's back on the sideline.

The following season, he scored in the 3-1 Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, but went one better the following year, winning the penalty which gave the Reds the lead in the 2-0 win over Spurs in Madrid.

That same year, he tied with Salah and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the Premier League Golden Boot.

Mané also scored twice in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final as the Reds beat Chelsea on penalties at the start of yet another impressive individual campaign which ended in Liverpool winning the Premier League for the first time since 1990.

Mané's never-say-die attitude, versatility and incredible levels of consistency mean he's without doubt Liverpool's best number 10 of the Premier League era.

Alexis Mac Allister has a lot to live up to...

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