Liverpool has a rich history filled with some extraordinary players. While the club has long been home to numerous British legends, in recent years its international contingent has played an increasingly crucial role in shaping its identity. Top-quality international players were once something of a rarity but in the last few decades, Anfield has welcomed many stars from further afield.
From oldest to newest (based on the year of their debut appearance), here are the eight best non-British players to have worn the Liverpool shirt.
Jan Molby (1984-1996)
Liverpool enjoyed much success during the 1970s and 1980s and many of their legends were born during this time. Although almost all are British, one notable exception is Danish midfielder, Jan Molby. Signed from Ajax, Molby was best known for his exceptional passing range and vision. Pinging the ball from the centre of the pitch, he could control the tempo of the game almost without moving.
Graeme Souness once described him as “the only player I have ever met who is capable of putting on weight during a football match”. He was certainly not a midfielder you would see charging from box to box but that did not matter when you could hammer the ball in from 30 yards. Unfortunately, Molby’s weight problems and related issues did often see him sidelined but the big-boned midfielder never stopped being a favourite at Anfield.
Sami Hyypia (1999-2009)
While defenders often don’t receive the same spotlight as their attacking counterparts, Sami Hyypia’s contributions to Liverpool’s defence and success cannot be overlooked. The Finnish centre-back, signed by Gerard Houllier in 1999, ended up being a stalwart in Liverpool’s backline for a decade.
Although not blessed with great pace, Hyypia’s leadership qualities, aerial prowess, and ability to read the game made him a formidable presence in the heart of Liverpool’s rearguard. In the campaign before his arrival, the Reds shipped in 49 league goals but this reduced to just 30 during the Finn’s debut season, of which he played every match.
Beyond his defensive capabilities, Hyypia was a real goal threat from set-pieces, contributing valuable goals throughout his Liverpool career. By the end of his time in Merseyside, the towering 6’4” defender had scored an impressive 35 goals in 464 appearances.
Dietmar Hamann (1999-2006)
Another of Gerard Houllier’s astute non-British signings was Didi Hamann. Overall, the German was a very handy midfielder, offering composure on the ball and the ability to break up opposing attacks. Although he never quite hit the elite levels, he will long be remembered for guiding Liverpool to their incredible Champions League win in 2005.
Trailing 3-0 at half-time, the German was brought on during the interval. With the assured midfielder allowing the Reds to regain their nerve, he proved instrumental in the sensational comeback. Hamann was the sort of player that could let other players shine and he very much did that in Istanbul.
Xabi Alonso (2004-2009)
When talking about midfielders, few can match the elegance and intelligence of Xabi Alonso. The composed Spaniard, known for his impeccable passing range, oozed class every time he got on the ball. He arrived from Real Sociedad in 2004 and quickly endeared himself to the Liverpool faithful. His partnership with Steven Gerrard in the heart of midfield was the engine that drove Liverpool to an FA Cup and Champions League win.
Alongside his massive performance in the Champions League final, Alonso is also well-remembered for his goal against Newcastle, which showcased his phenomenal technique. Located comfortably within his own half, the Spaniard saw Steve Harper off his line and pinged the ball in from 60 yards.
Fernando Torres (2007-2011)
Nicknamed “El Nino,” Fernando Torres’s time at Liverpool is remembered for his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his undeniable connection with the fans. Torres arrived at Anfield in 2007 from Atlético Madrid and quickly established himself as one of the Premier League’s most potent strikers with 24 goals during his debut season.
What made the Spaniard such an asset was that he possessed a lethal combination of pace, precision, and poise in front of goal. Defenders could simply not handle how direct he was when charging at them. An example of this came just 16 minutes into Torres’s debut as he breezed past Tal Ben Haim like he wasn’t there before slotting into the far corner.
For all the mesmerising play Torres had treated the Anfield crowd to, an underwhelming 2010/11 season meant it made sense to accept Chelsea’s £50m bid. With this money, the Reds purchased two replacements, a big flop in Andy Carroll but also a true gem mentioned below.
Luiz Suárez (2011-2014)
The Uruguayan forward with an insatiable appetite for goals, is undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s best-ever forwards. Joining the club in January 2011 from Ajax, Suárez seemed to go from strength to strength each year. His unique combination of skill, tenacity, and exquisite finishing made him an absolute joy to watch.
What also endeared him to the Anfield faithful was his ability to score some truly outrageous goals. Out of the 82 he scored for Liverpool in just 133 games, some highlights include an edge-of-the-box header versus West Brom, a dipping 40-yard lob against Norwich and his outrageous rounding of Newcastle’s Tim Krul.
Two of the aforementioned goals game in the 2013/14 season which saw the Uruguayan at the peak of his powers. Forming a sensational partnership with Daniel Sturridge he registered 31 league goals which saw him win the FWA, PFA Players’ and PFA Fans’ Player of the Year awards and named the Premier League’s own Player of the Season.
Mohamed Salah (2017-present)
A former Chelsea flop, Salah returned to the Premier League in 2017 only to look like a completely transformed player. Scoring 32 league goals during his first Liverpool season, the Egyptian set a new record for the most goals in a 38-game campaign. If you include goals from all competitions the blistering winger registered a stunning total of 44 from just 52 matches.
Far from a one-season wonder, Salah’s impact has been sustained, with consistent goal-scoring exploits and crucial contributions in Liverpool’s pursuit of domestic and European success. His ability to score in crucial moments and lead by example on the pitch has seen him long-regarded as one of the world’s best players. Despite entering his 30s, his commitment to his health and fitness means he has yet to show any real signs of slowing down.
Keepers often do not get the recognition they deserve so it seems only fair that we end this piece by highlighting Liverpool’s number one. As with Salah, the Brazilian arrived from AS Roma and has operated at a consistently high level throughout. The goalkeeping position had previously been a significant problem for the Reds but with Allison between the sticks, it has been of absolutely no concern.
Widely regarded as one of the best keepers in the world, Alisson is not only a supreme shot stopper but he is among the very best with the ball at his feet. Never flustered, the Reds faithful know that Allison will calmy pass (or even dribble) the ball out of dangerous situations when needed. His €75m price tag at the time seemed pricey but he’s proven to be worth every single penny of that fee.