It now feels like the subject of a fabled myth, but there was once a time Liverpool splashed out £10million on Senegalese badboy El Hadji Diouf.
The forward’s impressive performances at the 2002 World Cup had knocked out France and pushes Les Lions de la Teranga to a quarter-final – subsequently, then-Reds boss Gerard Houlier saw a star in the making.
But little did the Anfield side know that they had just thrown a double-figure sum at one of the most menacing, detested players the Premier League has ever seen. Seven clubs, countless spitting incidents and allegations of racism, twelve years and only 37 league goals later, Diouf is now a free agent after being released by Leeds United.
Essentially, the 33 year-old made an entire career out of a splatter (or should that be spatter) of decent showings at a major international tournament. Hardly the first player to do so, and undoubtedly not the last.
So before the Mersey outfit find themselves suckered in by another World Cup star who appears to be taking international football by storm, here’s a list of FIVE ‘El Hadji Dioufs of Brazil 2014’ that Liverpool would be wise to avoid.
Should they stage a surprise victory over the Netherlands on Saturday evening, the immediate fate of the Costa Rica squad will significantly change for the better.
None more so than Joel Campbell, whose one goal and one assist in four World Cup appearances has seen him rise to star status for the quarter-finalists. Check out his cool finish against Uruguay last month…
Admittedly, the 22 year-old looks a decent player, further building upon his reputation from this impressive strike against Manchester United last season…
Furthermore, his Arsenal debut would likely have come significantly sooner if work permit issues hadn’t got in the way.
But convincing Arsene Wenger to sell will cost an arm and a leg at this moment in time. The Gunners gaffer has big plans for the winger-forward next season:
After three seasons out on-loan, Joel Campbell will return to Arsenal & compete for a first team place next season (Source: @bbcsport_david)
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) July 2, 2014
And considering Campbell’s most competitive club football to date has come in the form of a year-long loan with Olympiacos, he represents far too much of a risk.
A number of clubs are keen to take the Costa Rican talisman on loan next season…
AC Milan want Joel Campbell on loan if Balotelli goes the other way to Arsenal http://t.co/YV4AFmQFdM
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) June 19, 2014
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) June 20, 2014
Thus, Liverpool would be wise to wait another year before attempting to prize the Arsenal hotshot away from the Emirates.
According to the tabloids, Liverpool are already amid negotiations to sign Belgium international Divock Origi.
Divock Origi is set to complete a move to Liverpool for £10m #LFC (Source: L’Equipe)
— Transfer News (@Transfer__Footy) June 27, 2014
The 19 year-old has thoroughly impressed for the Red Devils in Brazil, grabbing his first ever international goal during a 1-0 victory over Russia last week…
Likewise, the Lille forward is an exceptionally quick, busy striker who likes to remain at the heart of the action throughout.
But I will always hold concerns over a front-man whose biggest weakness remains finding the net. He’s claimed just six goals in 40 Ligue 1 appearances and his attacking statistics from last term are hardly mind-blowing…
Liverpool could be investing in a talented centre-forward just a single string short of an exceptional bow. Or they could be throwing £10million at the next Emile Heskey.
Another World Cup striker said to have triggered a wealth of Premier League attention is Algeria international Islam Slimani.
Newcastle, Everton, West Ham and Crystal Palace irked by £10m Islam Slimani price hike http://t.co/DM03BQ6BHb
— Everton News (@ToffeesNews) July 3, 2014
The 26 year-old has claimed two goals and one assist in three World Cup appearances, including this strike against South Korea:
Furthermore, the 6 foot 1 striker has proved a decent cameo signing for Sporting Lisbon since joining them from Algerian side Belouizdad last summer, finding eight goals in ten league starts and sixteen substitute outings. Here’s the highlights of the Algeria international’s debut season with Leoes:
But with Luis Suarez set to leave Anfield, Liverpool need to aim a little higher than the Algeria forward, whose club career strike-rate currently stands at one-in-three.
Amid Liverpool’s need for a new No.3, it’s understandable that they’ve been linked with in-form Oranje international Daley Blind.
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) June 17, 2014
The 25 year-old is currently second in the World Cup’s set-up charts with three assists in four appearances, including this beautiful pass to Robin van Persie…
But to describe Blind as a bonafide left-back of Premier League standard would be a fallacy – in truth, he’s a utility man, and his best performances for Ajax this season have come in central midfield, as shown below…
The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ comes to mind, especially considering Blind’s impressive World Cup showings have come in a 3-5-2 formation that gives him license to roam forward.
A decent squad addition perhaps, but the Ajax star is not the world-beating left-back Liverpool are desperately searching for this summer.
To give credit where it’s due, Guillermo Ocha has been in unbelievable form for Mexico at the World Cup, producing a number of top-class saves, as seen below:
And he produced an equally talismanic performance against PSG earlier this season…
Furthermore, Liverpool need an understudy to Simon Mignolet that can actually compete for a first-team place, and the 28 year-old has just left Ajaccio on a bosman move.
But the spaghetti-haired South American certainly has a few shades of Heurelho Gomes about him, making simple saves look heroic and seemingly only seconds away from a complete goal-line meltdown.
Similarly, having thus far plied his club trade at the less flattering end of the French table, it remains to be seen whether Ochoa is up to Premier League standard.