Liverpool are getting ready to take on all-conquering Barcelona at the weekend, with two of their best players former Anfield stars.
In total, six players have represented both the brilliant clubs, and we’ve listed them here.
(We’re not including the likes of Dani Pacheco, Luis Alberto, Bobby Adekanye, etc – as they never played for Barca’s first-XI.)
The Finnish attacker has cult status at Liverpool after arriving in 2001 from Barcelona. He was the wrong side of 30 and only stayed for one season, the same length of time he represented the Catalans – but his skill and flair was there for all to see. He’s renowned as perhaps the greatest Finnish footballer of all time, after a brilliant spell with Ajax in the 1990s where he led them to a Champions League win and five league titles.
Another magician playmaker who’s represented both clubs. Rafa Benitez made Garcia one of his first signings after arriving at Liverpool in 2004, securing the attacking midfielder from Barca’s bench. He stayed for three seasons, enjoying some wonderful moments such as his crucial goals against Juventus and Chelsea in our run to Champions League victory in 2005. He was frustrating at times, but he’ll be forever fondly remembered.
Barca decided to go with Victor Valdes when both he and Reina were vying for the no.1 shirt at the start of the Millennium, and although Valdes went on to win more, Reina will be regarded as the better keeper. We signed him from Villarreal in 2005 and he quickly established a reputation as one of the best stoppers in world football. His form eventually waned but the fact we’ve not properly replaced him in the three years since his departure says much.
Zenden spent three years at Barca after a wonderful spell at PSV, undoubtedly the highlight of his career. The Dutchman moved to England after the emergence of Xavi and Iniesta at the Nou Camp, and joined Chelsea, Middelsbrough and then ourselves in 2005. Fans never rated Zenden especially highly, but Benitez regularly used him as a utility midfielder – with Zenden happy to play wide or centrally in Rafa’s compact formations.
Arguably the best defensive midfielder we’ve had at Anfield in the Premier League era. Mascherano is now regarded as one of the best in the world and in truth, we’ve never properly replaced him since his sale to Barca in 2010. In six years at the Nou Camp he’s won two European Cups and four La Liga titles, so you can hardly begrudge him the transfer – even though he pined for it at the time. One of the few truly world-class players we’ve had at Liverpool over the past decade.
What else can be said about Luis Suarez? After joining us in 2011, the controversial but brilliant Uruguayan scored 82 goals in 133 matches and won the hearts of Reds worldwide. His jaw-dropping performances in 2013/14 fired us to within inches of title glory, but he sadly left for Barca that summer for a cool £75m. Since, he’s notched 84 goals in 96 matches in Spain – proving himself as the world’s best centre-forward. How we miss him.