MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Champions League winner was “very close” to joining Liverpool – Houllier ‘negotiated my contract’

A former Chelsea winger with a Champions League medal in his collection has admitted he was “very close” to joining Anfield, and it was the Reds’ previous manager who had a hand in the negotiations.

There are a whole host of high-profile names who have slipped through Liverpool’s fingers down the years, with some of the links being more genuine than others.

Florent Malouda was one name to have been touted as a potential signing back in 2007, but the Frenchman eventually opted to join Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge instead.

At the time, Malouda was managed by Gerard Houllier at Lyon, with the former Liverpool boss said to have tried to encourage his player to make the switch to Merseyside.

Reflecting on his eventual move from Ligue 1 to the Premier League, Malouda has explained the role Houllier played in him almost ending up at the Reds.

“Liverpool were actually the first to really show interest. My coach at the time was Gerard Houllier who was at Liverpool for a long time, and they were doing well in the Champions League,” Malouda told The Obi One Podcast, hosted by fellow ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.

“When I heard that there was an interest, I talked to him, I went to his office and he was funny because he loved so much Liverpool he just made a phone call I think at the time to Rick Parry and said: ‘Are you interested?’

“‘I said: ‘Yes’ and he started to negotiate my contract with Liverpool. He was the manager of the club, making the deal for Liverpool! So it was very, very, very close.”

It is heartwarming to hear that Houllier was still so invested in the club despite having left his post at the end of the 2003/04 season.

The Frenchman arrived at the club to become a joint manager with Roy Evans in the summer of 1998, before taking on the role himself fully upon Evans’ exit a matter of months later.

Malouda went on to carve out a successful career of his own at Chelsea, spending six years in London and becoming a European champion before eventually switching to Turkey to join Trabzonspor in 2013.