Jamie Carragher has argued that Sami Hyypia is the best signing Liverpool have made in the Premier League era, hailing his “instrumental” impact for £2.5 million.
The Reds have built a reputation as one of the most shrewd outfits in the English top flight when it comes to transfers, with sporting director Michael Edwards at the heart of it.
But Carragher believes that “pound-for-pound” the best signing the Reds have pulled off since the Premier League began in 1992 is Hyypia, who joined from Willem II in a £2.5 million deal in 1999.
Hyypia spent 10 years at Anfield, winning the Champions League, the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup (twice), the League Cup (twice), the UEFA Super Cup (twice) and the Community Shield (twice), before departing for Bayer Leverkusen.
“I think sometimes we think of this team now [as the best] – and rightly so, they’ve done a lot more than the teams I played in – but if I think where Liverpool were in 1999, they were a team who were finishing sixth and seventh,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“They couldn’t come out of the Roy Evans era, they’d gone close to the title and it was fading away; Gerard Houllier comes in and that Liverpool team is known as a weak team, they got bullied.
“[Hyypia] came in, he played for the club for 10 years, he was never injured.
“Liverpool went from becoming a soft touch to a team who were mentally and physically very strong, and he was a massive part of that.
“The success we had over the next 10 years with Gerard Houllier and with Rafa Benitez was built on defence.
“It wasn’t about being an exciting team going forward, scoring lots of goals. It was built on solidity, and that started with his signing.”
Carragher produced a list of Liverpool’s five best signings of the Premier League era, with Hyypia top ahead of Salah, Van Dijk, Robertson and Luis Suarez.
This was due to a number of factors, and while he described it as being a “toss-up between him and Mo Salah,” Hyypia took the top spot as an “instrumental” signing who came out of nowhere unlike Van Dijk.
“The price tag, the never being injured, the 10 years’ service he gave and the trophies he was part of winning,” he listed.
“It was a toss-up between him and Mo Salah, he’s been top scorer, you think of what he’s won, it’s a tough one.
“The only thing that team, or Sami Hyypia, didn’t win was the league. They won FA Cups, League Cups and UEFA Cups as well, and it was a 10-year period.
“Sami Hyypia came in and no one had heard of him, no one had seen him play. The impact he had at Liverpool was just instrumental.”