Liverpool's best free transfers in the Premier League era – ranked

There haven't been many clubs more revered for their savvy transfer business than Liverpool in the last decade or so.

Jurgen Klopp and the Reds hierarchy have hand-picked an array of talents, many of whom had been overlooked by the bigger teams, and turned them into world-beaters, doubling, tripling and quadrupling their transfer value.

Many of the club's major transfer coups have come as a result of smart negotiating, whittling a player's transfer fee down so to comply with our apparent financial limitations.

The Reds have also been partial to dipping into the free agent market when it suits them over the years.

While some of Liverpool's Bosmans have still managed to make £0 look like bad value (don't expect to see Jole Cole, Andriy Voronin or Adam Bogdan on this list), there have been plenty of success stories.

Let's take a look at the six best free transfers in Liverpool's Premier League history – ranked.

6. Adrian (2019)

Previous club: West Ham

OK, hear me out...

Signed for his vast experience playing in the Premier League, Adrian joined in the summer of 2019, filling Simon Mignolet's place as the side's number two – a role that doesn't usually see much action.

However, the Spaniard ended up being immediately thrust into the limelight, forcing to fill in for Alisson Becker after Liverpool's resident shot-stopper picked up an injury on the opening night of the season against Norwich.

It was an unenviable position to be in, deputising for arguably the best goalkeeper in the world at the time. However, Adrian would start his Reds career as a hero, saving the crucial fifth penalty in the UEFA Super Cup shootout to hand Liverpool their first piece of silverware that season.

He would then start in net for the next eight Premier League games, winning all of them – a string of results that set Liverpool up perfectly for their title-winning season.

It hasn't all gone smoothly on Merseyside for Adrian since, and that's putting it kindly. But for his early contributions, he makes this list.

5. Bolo Zenden (2005)

Previous club: Middlesbrough

Off the back of a strong season with Middlesbrough, which saw him voted Boro's supporters' Player of the Year in the 2004/05 season, Liverpool jumped at the chance to sign the former Barcelona man upon the expiry of his contract.

Zenden endured a difficult first campaign with the Reds, only making seven Premier League appearances, but his next season was far more productive.

Making 30 appearances for the Reds across all competitions, Zenden was a useful asset to Rafa Benitez, becoming a regular fixture in Liverpool's 2007 Champions League campaign which saw them reach the final, only to be edged by AC Milan in Athens.

Bolo may not have set the world on fire, but his role as a reliable squad player during his two-year stint makes his free signing a shrewd bit of business.

4. Fabio Aurelio (2006)

Previous club: Valencia

Fabio Aurelio is fondly remembered by supporters for a handful of moments.

Whether it be his fantastic free-kick in the famous 4-1 win at Old Trafford in 2009, or catching Petr Cech napping to net a belter in the Champions League quarter-final that same year, Aurelio was sure to leave at least a couple lasting memories in the minds of Liverpool fans.

A terrific full back with a sweet left foot, the only down side was that whenever the Brazilian got going, it seemed a momentum-halting injury would rear its ugly head.

He left for his native Brazil after six seasons and 134 appearances, in 2012. Not shabby at all.

3. Gary McAllister (2000)

Previous club: Coventry City

Few could comprehend Gerard Houllier's decision to give Gary Mac a contract in July 2000 at the tender age of 35.

However, it's safe to say he rose to the challenge, and then some.

Leading by example as Liverpool steamed through three competitions to win their famous treble in 2001, veteran McAllister turned out to be a masterstroke of a signing.

A crucial player in a huge season, who could forget his penalty against Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi-final, or last-gasp derby winner at Goodison Park, curling a free-kick in from 44 yards out to write his name forever into Liverpool folklore?

Prior to modern era, there was no better Liverpool free transfer than Super Gary Mac.

If his namesake Alexis has as many key moments in his first season, he'll be worth the money.

2. Joel Matip (2016)

Previous club: Schalke 04

Joel Matip arrived on Merseyside during a defensive crisis. Finishing in a dreadful ninth place in the 2015/16 season, it was clear work was needed to turn this Liverpool side around, and the free signing of the Cameroon international looked to be the first piece of the puzzle.

A decent first campaign followed for Joel, but he would soon fall slightly out of favour under Jurgen Klopp, with Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez instead likened to form partnerships with newcomer Virgil van Dijk across the year of 2018.

However, when Gomez went down with injury in December of that year, Matip got his chance to break back into the team, and boy did he take it.

Forming arguably the strongest centre-back partnership in the world at that time with Van Dijk, he would play a pivotal part in Liverpool's 2018/19 Champions League campaign, which against all odds would end in triumph.

He would then remain a mainstay during the next season, playing his role in a season that saw the Reds finally end their 30-year wait for a Premier League title.

On top of that, he's a cult hero with his own 'No Context' account.

1. James Milner (2015)

Previous club: Manchester City

You can have your Robert Lewandowskis, Andrea Pirlos, Zlatan Ibrahimovics, and you can put them to one side. This is the best free transfer of all time.

James Milner earned his nickname of Mr. Reliable for one reason. Throughout his Liverpool career, the Yorkshire man has been the one player in the team you could always depend upon, no matter the situation.

Need a penalty taken? Stick Millie on it. Going into the season without a recognised left-back? James will do the job. Need a lactate test smashing? Stand aside.

He could do it all.

Rarely has a player been utilised to such a varied degree as Milner, and risen to the occasion every time.

It's hard to imagine the amounts of money saved by Liverpool over the years because of the gaps Milner has plugged.

The former Reds vice-captain was a staple of Liverpool's team throughout the club's rebuild from mid-table to top of the world.

For that reason, there is no other player that could top this list.

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