Liverpool had poured their heart and soul into the 2013-14 season, only to fall short.
Despite only boasting a relatively small squad containing very few genuine first-team options, Brendan Rodgers’ side put together a remarkable run in the second half of the season to suddenly burst into Premier League title contention.
Then we all know what happened next.
Whether it is Steven Gerrard’s slip at home to Chelsea or the infamous collapse from 3-0 up to draw 3-3 at Crystal Palace, the stumble and fall from what would have been the club’s first league title in 24 years was as swift as it was dramatic.
Liverpool would have to wait another six years to get their hands on the crown, and one of the reasons for that was immediate aftermath to going so close to glory.
Suarez left the Reds at the end of the 2013-14 season
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Any suggestions that the Reds were in a perfect position to kick on again in the summer of 2014 seemingly evaporated with Luis Suarez’s £65m switch to Barcelona – via a bite on Giorgio Chiellini – and suddenly Rodgers had to both replace the club’s top scorer and flesh out the squad for an upcoming campaign in the Champions League.
Banking that Suarez cash, the Reds embarked on a £117m spending spree, bringing in eight players of whom seven had commanded an eight figure transfer fee.
This is the story of those players, and what would turn out to be a summer of regret.
Rickie Lambert – £4m from Southampton
Lambert scored just three goals for Liverpool, although none came at Anfield
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
Hans Christian Andersen had nothing on the amount of fairytales that were being written about Lambert’s move to the Reds, which came about after his goals at Southampton had taken the Saints up the divisions and him into the England squad.
Returning to his boyhood club after being released as a teenager, Lambert was supposed to bring experienced goal-getting qualities and provide the Reds with that mythical ‘different option’ from the bench.
He tried his hardest, but three goals in 36 appearances – none of which came at Anfield – told their own story.
As Lambert struggled, he understandably suggested that a switch from 90-minute man to squad player was a difficult transition, and one that affected his fitness.
He was leave for West Brom just a year after joining, with the fairytale over.
Adam Lallana – £25m from Southampton
Lallana would have his fitness issues, but was a well-respected member of the squad
While Saints fans seemed more than happy to see Lambert complete a move to Liverpool, Lallana’s switch was a different story.
The attacking midfielder had dazzled as the Saints had risen up the divisions, but his £25m fee was questioned despite his spot in England’s World Cup squad.
Lallana would add a dash of style to Rodgers’ team, but it wasn’t until the appointment of Jurgen Klopp that he would grow into a hugely important figure in the way the team plays.
Although his time at Anfield was ravaged by injuries, by the time he left the club in the summer of 2020 with a Champions League and Premier League winners’ medal in his back pocket, he did so having garnered a huge amount of respect.
He is remembered as one of the more important figures of Klopp’s reign, even if his influence wasn’t always on the pitch.
Emre Can – £10m from Bayer Leverkusen
There were high hopes for Can when he arrived
At just 20 and having already played for Bayern Munich as well as Bayer Leverkusen, there was plenty of excitement at the arrival of midfielder Can.
He was seen as a versatile player who would slot in wherever Rodgers needed him, and that was certainly the case in his first season when he was seen at right-back and in a back three.
Indeed, he was largely shunted around in the campaign as Liverpool’s results faltered, but he found himself a slot in Klopp’s midfield plans pretty easily, right up until a 2018 free transfer departure that you suspect the manager didn’t want.
Lazar Markovic – £20m from Benfica
Markovic was never able to live up to the hype
Plenty of European football experts were queuing up to tell Liverpool fans that their club had just bought a gem when the Serbian arrived from Benfica, but he wasn’t to sparkle.
Markovic played 34 times in his first Liverpool season, but was probably most remembered for being sent off in a crucial Champions League clash with Basel.
He would depart on four different loan moves before leaving Liverpool for good in January 2019 to join Fulham, for whom he played just once before a move back to first club Partizan Belgrade.
Dejan Lovren – £20m from Southampton
Lovren was the third of three signings from Southampton that summer
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By now the jokes about Liverpool turning Southampton into their feeder club were everywhere, but its not as if they weren’t giving the south coast club plenty of money.
Like Lallana, Lovren’s transfer fee was questioned almost immediately, and the Croatian seemed to struggle under the weight of it as his team stuttered for form.
He’s a confident, strong-willed footballer though, and by sticking to his guns he managed to stay around in 2020 under Klopp, leaving with plenty of memories and medals.
Divock Origi – £10m from Lille
Origi played and scored for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup at the age of 19
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The only one of that 2014 crop still at the club, Origi didn’t actually join the Reds until the following summer having been loaned back to Lille.
He saw the tail end of the Rodgers reign, and then under Klopp he’s experienced a curious Liverpool career full of the absolute highest highs in between some fairly nondescript lows.
Many expect him to leave this summer and if he does, it’s been eventful.
Alberto Moreno – £12m from Sevilla
Moreno was certainly a committed player for Liverpool, often too much so
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The Spanish left-back was just two weeks into his Liverpool career when he robbed the ball from Andros Townsend, tore down the White Hart Lane wing and smashed a brilliant shot into the bottom corner in a 3-0 victory for the Reds over Tottenham Hotspur.
As introductions go it wasn’t a bad one, and it set the scene for an unpredictable Reds career.
A tendency to be overly aggressive and a little wild would often let Moreno down, but after some high-profile faux-pas he did win his place back in the side under Klopp at the start of 2017-18, when he kept out Andy Robertson.
He was also still around in the squad when the Champions League was won in 2019, before departing for Villarreal.
Mario Balotelli – £16m from AC Milan
Balotelli’s time at Liverpool is best forgotten
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Liverpool had tried and failed to land other forwards in the wake of Suarez’s departure, and then somehow they ended up with Balotelli.
The Italian would score just once in the Premier League for the Reds and four times overall across 28 appearances, dropping in and out of Rodgers’ side and never really showing any great consistency.
He was to play just one season before moving back to Milan on loan and then eventually Nice, forever doomed to remain a Liverpool footnote of a confusing time.