From David James to Fabio Borini – The First Summer Signings of Liverpool’s Premier League Managers

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After Jurgen Klopp made Loris Karius his first summer signing, we take a look back at the maiden summer recruits of Liverpool’s managers throughout the Premier League era.

Klopp returned to former club Mainz 05 to make shot-stopper Karius the first new arrival of his summer squad rebuild.

Joining for a measly £4.7million fee and with the goalkeeping department in real need of strengthening, the signing represents a smart piece of business from the German.

But shrewd first summer arrivals haven’t always materialised at Anfield, with former managers bringing in a real mixed bag of opening recruits over the years.

Here are the first summer signings made by each Reds boss during the Premier League era – including two more ‘keepers.

David James – Signed by Graeme Souness

London, England - Monday, December 2, 1996: Liverpool's goalkeeper David James in action during the 2-0 Premier League victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In charge of the Reds from April 1991 in a period of mass change at Anfield, it was actually Mark Wright who Souness made the first summer addition of his three-year reign.

A highly-rated and sought-after centre-back at Derby County, Souness paid a then national record fee for a defender of £2.5 million to secure Wright’s services in the final season before the Premier League’s introduction.

It certainly proved to be one of the better moves made of his difficult time in charge, with Wright playing 210 times for the Reds, scoring nine goals and helping Liverpool to FA Cup success in 1992 in a seven year stay.

However, it was technically David James who was Souness’ first summer signing of the Premier League era, joining from Watford in July ’92 for £1million ahead of the new format’s debut season as English football’s top-flight.

A ‘keeper capable of great and dreadful moments in equal measure, James led the Reds into the new era as Liverpool’s No.1 and spent seven years between the sticks at Anfield, playing 277 times for the club.

The ex-Hornet claimed his only silverware from his time on Merseyside with the League Cup triumph of 1995, before leaving for Aston Villa in 1999 in a £1.8million deal.

Michael Stensgaard – Signed by Roy Evans

A player who most wouldn’t even know and those who do most likely have forgotten, Evans kicked off his summer spree with one of the most obscure and bizarre signings in Liverpool’s history.

The lifelong Liverpudlian swooped to make unknown goalkeeper Stensgaard his first summer signing in June 1994, with the stopper joining from Hvidovre in a £400,000 deal to provide cover for David James.

Stensgaard infamously suffered one of the most freak injuries of all time, hurting his shoulder while getting an ironing board out of a cupboard at his home – an accident that ultimately ended his career.

The Danish stopper never properly managed to iron out that strange set-back, and two years later he left Merseyside without making a single appearance for the Reds.

Sami Hyypia – Signed by Gerard Houllier

Liverpool's new signings back row (l to r) Erik Meijer, Sander Westerveld, Vladimir Smicer, Titi Camara and front row (l to r) Sammi Hyypia, coach Phil Thompson and manager Gerard Houllier and Stephane Henchoz - Picture by: Michael Steele / EMPICS Sport

Having bided his time to make his mark on the squad as sole manager, Houllier made signing a new centre-back his priority as he sorted the Reds defensive problems.

He certainly made the wait worthwhile, signing the relatively unknown Hyypia from Dutch club Willem II in May 1998 for a bargain £2.6million, which still stands today as one of Liverpool’s best ever summer transfers.

The Finnish defender proved an inspired addition by Houllier, with Hyypia going on to play a key role in Liverpool’s successes under the Frenchman, and later Benitez, as a centre-back stalwart alongside Stephane Henchoz and Jamie Carragher.

The leading and composed centre-back went on to play 464 times for the Reds, scoring 35 goals in a fantastic 10 year stay at Anfield where he became a firm fans’ favourite.

Hyypia made an emotional farewell on the final day of the 2008/09 season, and he will certainly always be fondly remembered by Kopites.

Josemi – Signed by Rafael Benitez

BOLTON, ENGLAND - SUNDAY AUGUST 29th 2004: Liverpool's Josemi in action during the Premiership match against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a matter of weeks in the Anfield hot-seat, Benitez made Spanish defender Josemi the first signing of his Anfield tenure.

The right-back arrived in Liverpool in July 2004 for £2million from Malaga, seemingly ready to take over from Steve Finnan, but the move certainly didn’t go according to plan for player or club.

The Spaniard ending up making just 18 appearances during his brief spell on Merseyside, having failed to impress as Benitez had hoped following his move.

Despite a largely underwhelming period, he still picked up a Champions League winners’ medal, playing five times in the Champions League run and featuring among the substitutes in the miracle of Istanbul – ending the night as the original photobomber as Gerrard lifted the trophy.

After just 18 months at Anfield, Josemi headed back to Spain as part of a swap deal with Villarreal for Jan Kromkamp in an equally uninspiring piece of business by Benitez.

Joe Cole – Signed by Roy Hodgson

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 15, 2010: Liverpool's Joe Cole is shown the red card by referee Martin Atkinson against Arsenal during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The England manager kicked off a predictably disastrous six month spell at Anfield by swooping to sign Cole on a free transfer on 21st July 2010.

Glasgow Rangers defender Danny Wilson followed through the door later that same day, in a summer of uninspiring additions.

Cole’s arrival was met with mixed reaction, with some hoping Hodgson could rediscover his spark of previous years, while others felt it was a waste of resources with his best days well and truly gone.

It proved to be the latter of those, with Cole clearly past his best by the time he arrived at Anfield on a carelessly awarded four-year contract, reportedly earning an eye-watering £90,000 per-week.

The Londoner endured a miserable two-and-a-half years on Merseyside under three different managers, with his forgettable stay in L4 summed up by his debut red card against Arsenal.

Cole played 42 times and scored five goals in that time for Liverpool, before Brendan Rodgers sold him back to West Ham, where he started his career, in January 2013.

Jordan Henderson – Signed by Kenny Dalglish

Football - FA Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC

Preparing for his first full season back in charge of his beloved Reds, Dalglish made Henderson the first summer arrival of his second spell as boss as he sought to restore the club to greatness.

The then 20-year-old arrived at Anfield in a pricey £16million deal from Sunderland in June 2011, which raised plenty of eyebrows at the time with Henderson very much an unproven entity.

The midfielder struggled to settle initially under the weight of the price paid for his services, leading to many questioning Dalglish’s decision to sign him as he failed to make an instant impact.

But from looking a dead cert to leave Anfield when Rodgers took over, Henderson steadily developed into a key player under the Northern Irishman in 2013/14, before completing an impressive turnaround by taking over as club captain from Steven Gerrard last season.

He has grown into a talented midfielder for the Reds – playing 212 times and scoring 22 goals – and though not many thought it at the time, Henderson has certainly turned out to be one of the better pieces of business in this list.

Fabio Borini – Signed by Brendan Rodgers

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, February 11, 2013: Liverpool's Fabio Borini in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Moving swiftly to implement his well-documented philosophy at Anfield, Rodgers made Borini the first signing of his tenure, paying £10million to sign him from Roma where he had impressed in Serie A.

Rodgers knew all about the Italian’s talents talents having worked with him during the pair’s time at Chelsea, instantly commenting on how Kopites will “love him.”

They proved infamous last words from the Northern Irishman, whose comments increased the scrutiny and pressure on the then 21-year-old, which certainly didn’t help him settle at Anfield.

Borini went on to endure a difficult time on Merseyside, rarely handed the chance to prove why Rodgers so quickly declared his talents perfect for what he was looking to implement at the club.

The Italy striker played just 38 times for the Reds across three seasons that were spent largely in the background, scoring just three goals.

It says everything about how the signing worked out that Borini’s best spell as a Liverpool player actually came in a Sunderland shirt, where he impressed on loan before signing permanently for £10million in August 2015.

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