From Kenny Dalglish to Virgil van Dijk – The history of Liverpool’s record signings

Breaking club transfer records has become a regular occurrence in recent years, but it was not always like that. Here we take you through 11 of Liverpool’s record signings over the years.

With the commercialisation and commodification of football having taken a stranglehold on the industry, the lining in the pockets of modern clubs are significantly deeper.

It has led to hundreds of millions of pounds sent from one club to another, a distant memory from the tens to hundreds of thousands for star players in the mid-1900s.

Previous to that, Liverpool would kick it all off with a £35 move for William Dunlop in 1895 from Paisley Abercorn but the post-war saw fees in the tens of thousands, starting with Albert Stubbins in 1946 for £12,500.

Ian St John would follow, as would Emlyn Hughes, John Toshack and Ray Kennedy before fees would slowly edge closer to the million-pound mark.

In fact, from 1977 to 2018, Liverpool would see a price differential of £74,560,000 in just 41 years. And here’s the history of 11 of the Reds’ record signings.


Kenny Dalglish – £440,000

Kenny Dalglish, Bob Paisley - archive-181209-3

From: Celtic (1977)

A signing Bob Paisley was not going to let slip through his fingers, driving up to Glasgow himself before adding an extra 10 percent to secure a deal, more than doubling the Reds’ previous highest fee.

It was a deal that would usher in a Liverpool legend, with Dalglish winning 23 honours as both a player and manager.


Mark Lawrenson – £900,000

Mark Lawrenson, Liverpool

From: Brighton (1981)

Just under the million-pound threshold, it was a price that made 24-year-old Lawrenson the most expensive defender in Britain at the time.


Peter Beardsley – £1.9 million

Peter Beardsley, 1991 (Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport)

From: Newcastle (1987)

Six years later Liverpool would finally break the barrier to make their first million-pound purchase, with Beardsley the chosen one. He would spend four years at Anfield.


Dean Saunders – £2.9 million

Dean Saunders and Mark Wright (1991) Image: Neal Simpson (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

From: Derby (1991)

Another sizeable investment from the Reds, but Saunders would last just one year after struggling to truly adapt to life under Graeme Souness.


Stan Collymore – £8.5 million

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 6, 1996: Liverpool's Stan Collymore celebrates scoring the second of his hat-trick of goals against Rochdale during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From: Nottingham Forest (1995)

The move for the striker was one that blew the previous records out of the water, with the £8.5 million figure not only a club record but also a British transfer record.

Collymore would establish a prolific partnership with Robbie Fowler and hit the net 35 times in 81 appearances.


Emile Heskey – £11 million

Emile Heskey signing, unveiled at Melwood, March 2000 (Magi Haroun/EMPICS Sport)

From: Leicester (2000)

The new millennium lifted the ceiling for the Reds as they hit the tens of millions with the acquisition of Heskey, who would strike up a brilliant partnership with Michael Owen.


Djibril Cisse – £14.5 million

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Djibril Cisse in action against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From: Auxerre (2000)

Four years later and the record was broken once more as Gerard Houllier secured his final signing, making Cisse the first non-British or Irish player to hold Liverpool’s record fee.


Fernando Torres – £20.2 million

Liverpool, England - Wednesday, July 4, 2007: Liverpool's new signing Fernando Torres with manage Rafael Benitez under the famous This is Anfield sign following his £26m transfer from Atletico Madird, a club record transfer fee. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From: Atletico Madrid (2007)

Merely three years later and another landmark figure for the Reds, with Torres joining the ranks and more than repaying the fee needed to land his signature.

The striker lit Anfield and would score 81 goals in 142 games before his heartbreaking exit, where Liverpool would then secure their record transfer sale of £50m in 2011.


Andy Carroll – £35 million

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 24, 2012: Liverpool's Andy Carroll looks dejected as referee Lee Mason dissallows what would be his side's second goal during the Premiership match against Wigan Athletic at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From: Newcastle (2011)

This one is enough to make you flinch as Liverpool made Carroll the most expensive English player of all time, where he never was able to live up to his lofty price-tag.

He made just 58 appearances for the Reds.


Mo Salah – £43.9 million

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 27, 2017: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From: Roma (2017)

One you would look back on and say Liverpool robbed Roma, with Salah leaping into the world-class category with relative ease.

His arrival was not met instantly with awe, but there is no doubt that the Egyptian has since etched his name into the club’s history books for all the right reasons.


Virgil van Dijk – £75 million

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, January 5, 2018: Liverpool's new signing Virgil van Dijk, who joined from Southampton for £75m, a world record for a defender, during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 230th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

From: Southampton (2018)

It’s not every day you say £75 million is a bargain, but when it relates to Virgil van Dijk, it is certainly the case.

A transformational signing in more ways than one and while a figure which comfortably surpassed its predecessors, Liverpool have been repaid comfortably with four major honours.