Almost ten years ago, striker Fernando Torres left Liverpool in a record £50 million move to join rivals Chelsea.
“El Nino” was adored on the Kop. Fans were heartbroken to see their star man sign for a club that was growing more hated by the year. Especially mid-season, on transfer deadline day of the January window.
On the same day, Liverpool completed a deal to sign red-hot frontman Luis Suarez, who was brought in from Ajax with the plan of partnering Torres.
However, the Spaniard’s departure saw manager Kenny Dalglish and co. scramble to find a replacement. The man they decided to sign was 22-year-old Andy Carroll, who had been on fire for Newcastle United, for a club-record £35 million.
The tales of Suarez and Carroll at Liverpool could not be more dissimilar.
One proved himself as one of the best strikers on the planet, the other turned out to be a much-maligned figure on Merseyside.
The Uruguayan and the Geordie are two of the 14 first-team strikers that have featured for Liverpool since Torres’ departure.
Here, we will rank each of these 14 players based in their time in a red shirt.
There are some notable absentees.
Anyone who most often featured as a winger has been left out. This means no Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy or Mohamed Salah among others.
We have also left out young strikers who only played the odd game here and there. So no Jerome Sinclair, Samed Yesil or Rhian Brewster.
However, false 9’s are included, so find out where we place Roberto Firmino on our list.
14. Mario Balotelli
Comfortably bottom of the pile comes Mario Balotelli.
Seen as a budget, last-minute replacement for Luis Suarez in 2015, the notorious Italian striker proved what so many already knew – he was unmanageable.
Balotelli never showed much interest when on the pitch and clearly held little affinity for Liverpool or the Kopites in the stand. There is little point in going into detail about his off-the-pitch antics, but they certainly didn’t help his cause.
He returned to Milan on a one-year loan deal after just one season at Anfield, before signing for Nice in 2016.
He played a total 28 games for the Reds, scoring four times. Only one of these came in the league. It is not even the worst record on this list, but there is no doubt that Balotelli gave the least effort out of all the players we will name.
13. Iago Aspas
In 13th is the unlucky Iago Aspas.
While he never impressed in a red shirt, he did have the unbreakable duo of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge ahead of him, ensuring he never really got the chance.
Aspas has shown that he is clearly an excellent footballer, so it is hard to figure out exactly what went wrong during his spell at the club and why he looked so poor.
However, his effort could not be faulted and it is a pity he never got the chance to be that Suarez replacement as they left in the same summer.
12. Dominic Solanke
Like Aspas, Dom Solanke is probably a player that never got a fair crack at the whip for Liverpool. He was one of the top young prospects in English football at Chelsea but never got the game time to prove himself on Merseyside.
Solanke didn’t feature at all in 2018/19 and left for Bournemouth in January.
In fact, if Bournemouth hadn’t come in with a £19.08m offer that was too good to turn down, he could still be at the club.
He looked awkward at times and didn’t set Anfield alight, but it was clear that he had talent and was also incredibly young.
11. Fabio Borini
Next on our list is Brendan Rodgers favourite Fabio Borini.
The Italian was a decent character and clearly tried hard for the side. Unfortunately, he was never good enough to play for a club of Liverpool’s stature.
Borini spent three years at the club from 2012-2015, although he did spend the 2013/14 season on loan at Sunderland, who he eventually left for. In fact, he is probably remembered more fondly by fans of the Black Cats.
On Merseyside, he is probably better remembered for his goal celebration than anything of note he did on the pitch.
In fact, Borini hardly got the chance to put the “knife between the teeth” in a red shirt. He only scored two league goals for the club, one in each of his seasons.
10. Takumi Minamino
Takumi Minamino is a debatable inclusion in this list.
Firstly, defining him as a striker probably isn’t very accurate. He has played up front, on both wings and even in midfield for Liverpool. Yet he is probably at his best in the Firmino-style false 9 role and he has played as a striker a lot throughout his career.
In truth, he was signed to cover numerous positions but we’ll include him here for the sake of it.
Secondly, his Anfield career is really yet to get going. He cannot find a way past the front three, but he was never really expected to.
So it is hard to place him. He has scored four goals and got two assists in 30 games in all competitions, a decent enough record for a player used sporadically and in inconsistent positions.
This is enough to get him into the top ten, and here’s to hoping that he can jump a few places in future.
9. Rickie Lambert
Liverpool’s ninth-best striker of the last ten years is Scouser and boyhood Red, Rickie Lambert.
Like Minamino, Lambert was brought in as a squad player, rather than one that was going to have a big influence on the first team.
However, injury to Daniel Sturridge and Balotelli’s poor form meant that he played a lot more than expected in 2014/15.
He made seven league starts and came off the bench a further 18 times. Lambert was often brought on as a Plan B late in games when Liverpool were chasing a result.
He got two goals and two assists in the Premier League, as well as a further strike in the Champions League.
The fact that he was a local perhaps gains him a bit more in the bank, but he probably still deserves this spot.
8. David Ngog
The fact that David Ngog places so high in this list is probably an indication of how poor the other options were. Apart from Borini, whose time at Anfield was split by a loan away, Ngog is the first player on this list to have spent more than one full season at the club.
Torres was actually at the club for the most of Ngog’s time here. The Frenchman left just seven months after the Spaniard’s move.
Yet his time before Torres left is taken under consideration, so he takes eighth place in our list.
Ngog suffered from not being quite good enough to cover Torres while he spent long periods out injured. He was good enough to be a third- or fourth-choice striker, but not second-choice behind someone so injury-prone.
This saw him get a lot of stick, which was probably not all fair.
He did get 19 goals in his 94 appearances, which wasn’t that bad considering he was so young and a lot of these games were off the subs bench.
7. Andy Carroll
Now we get to the man tasked with replacing Torres, Andy Carroll.
As we mentioned above, his Liverpool career turned out to go in the opposite direction to the man signed on the same day as him, Luis Suarez. Considering the Uruguayan has not yet been listed, it’s easy to gather which way Carroll’s went.
Carroll was actually dealing with an injury when he was signed. This set the tone for the rest of his Reds career. He only made seven league appearances in 2010/11 due to fitness struggles.
The following campaign saw him make 21 starts and 14 sub appearances in the league, meaning that his partnership with Suarez really never took off.
Yes, injury hampered him but his old fashioned, big man style probably wouldn’t have seen him have a fantastic career at Liverpool anyway. His style didn’t suit Brendan Rodgers’ passing game. It would have suited Jurgen Klopp even less.
Carroll ended his time on Merseyside with 11 goals in 58 games. He has had a semi-decent Premier League career, though, with West Ham and hometown club Newcastle.
6. Danny Ings
To be fair, Ings can count himself quite lucky to find himself at sixth place in this list.
After all, he only played 25 times for the club across three years, scoring four goals. Yet most are of the understanding that this would have been a lot more had he not suffered two major injuries during his time at Anfield.
Ings was starting to cement himself as the first-choice striker under Brendan Rodgers before he ruptured his ACL in Jurgen Klopp’s first week at the club. He missed eight months of action in his first year.
Just as he was about to make his comeback in October 2016, he did it again. This time, he missed almost a full year.
When he did play, Ings looked fantastic. His high-energy game was perfect for Liverpool. It was just unfortunate for both sides that he could not get himself on the pitch.
Had Firmino’s role not grown so pivotal to Jurgen Klopp’s side in Ings’ absence, the Englishman could still be Liverpool’s first-choice striker. The boss was clearly keen to keep him at the club as a squad player, but understood Ings’ need to play regular football.
The now 28-year-old will probably be content with the decision he has made. He has developed into one of the Premier League’s top marksmen for Southampton in recent times.
5. Christian Benteke
You may be surprised to see Christian Benteke placed so highly on this list. He only lasted one season at the club and hasn’t been much good since he left.
The Belgian striker was always at his best when he played against Liverpool for Aston Villa. This is probably the key reason why Brendan Rodgers decided to splash over £40m on him.
Like Carroll and Lambert before him, Benteke did not seem to suit Rodgers’ system at all. Liverpool certainly didn’t play to his strengths. They kept the ball on the ground, while Benteke was at his most dangerous in the air.
He was not to Jurgen Klopp’s taste at all, but Crystal Palace still decided that he was good enough to spend £28m on, recruiting a lot of Liverpool’s spend on him.
4. Divock Origi
It has taken ten attempts, but we have finally reached a player that will live long in the memory of Liverpool fans around the world. Divock Origi is the very definition of a Liverpool cult-hero.
Brendan Rodgers signed the promising teenager in 2014. After one more year of developing on loan at Lille, Origi joined up with the squad for the 2015/16 season, where he made a decent start.
He also had a good 2016/17, mainly used as a squad player. The club decided that a loan to Wolfsburg would be best for his development in 2017/18, but it was a disappointing season in Germany.
So he returned to the club in summer 2018. Fans thought that Origi’s time was up, but with a lack of suitors, he ended up staying.
He didn’t play at all in the first half of the season. Surprisingly, he came off the bench in the Merseyside derby in December. Here, Origi reignited his Liverpool career with a 95th-minute winner, boosting Liverpool’s title hopes massively.
Origi went on to make further massive contributions that season. He scored another late winner against Fulham in the league, but it was in Europe that the Belgian really came to the fore.
Two goals in Liverpool’s famous comeback 4-0 win against Barcelona in the Champions League semi’s certified him as an icon, before he sealed the win in the final with a late goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory.
Origi’s impact has waned in the last year or so, with many of the opinion that it is time to move on. Yet the 25-year-old is worth keeping in the squad for his ability off the bench.
3. Daniel Sturridge
The top three is where the real quality comes to the party. And there is no better footballer at a party than Daniel Sturridge.
Signed in January 2012, Sturridge made an immediate impact with ten goals in just 14 games at the tail end of 2011/12.
He continued this form into 2013/14, where he formed an absolutely lethal partnership with Luis Suarez. Sturridge scored 21 times and added 7 assists in just 26 league starts. He made the PFA Team of the Season as Liverpool just missed out on the league title.
Sturridge’s ability was probably the main thing to soften the blow of Suarez’s departure in 2014.
But the striker was about as injury-prone as you can get. The next five seasons saw him score four, eight, three, two and two league goals respectively.
As well as the injuries, he probably didn’t press as much as Jurgen Klopp would have liked. Yet due to his ability, it would have been worth playing him if he could have kept fit.
Sturridge ended his Liverpool career in 2019 with a goal contribution every 99 minutes. This is a phenomenal record.
A case of what could have been, Sturridge is most certainly worthy of third on this list.
2. Roberto Firmino
Opinions on Roberto Firmino seem to change weekly at this moment in time.
A poor finisher who is rarely in the box, calling Firmino a striker probably seems slightly ludicrous. That is also not exactly a glowing reference. It gets better, I promise.
The biggest compliment that we can give Firmino is that if you ask Jurgen Klopp who Liverpool’s most important player of the last five years is, the Brazilian would be right up there. Possibly even number one.
The way that he drops deep to link the midfield and attack. The way he presses teams into oblivion. The typical Brazilian flicks and tricks. The pearly white teeth.
He is crucial to the system, despite missing his fair share of chances. Without the man fans lovingly call “Bobby”, Liverpool possibly don’t win the Champions League or Premier League.
Scoring is not Firmino’s main job, but he has still bagged s a decent few, including 15 in the league in 2017/18.
Firmino also has the best chant out of all the players in this list, even if the line “give the ball to Bobby and he will score” isn’t exactly factual.
1. Luis Suarez
Where better to finish than where we started?
Yes, the best striker Liverpool have had since the days of Fernando Torres is the man they signed to partner him. While the dream partnership never came to fruition, Luis Suarez did just fine on his own.
133 games. 82 goals. 47 assists. A goal contribution every 88 minutes in a Liverpool shirt. Simply frightening numbers.
His first half-season saw him score four goals and pick up three assists in 13 league games, including a goal on his debut. In 2011/12, it was 11 goals and three assists in 31. Good, but not a patch on his record of over a goal per game at Ajax.
However, his tenacity, dribbling ability and general genius play meant that Suarez had an immediate home in the hearts of Kopites.
It got better. Suarez’s 2013/14 season was simply unbelievable. 33 games. 31 goals. 12 assists. A record-breaking season as Liverpool came agonizingly close to winning the Premier League title.
For our money, it was the best individual season in Premier League history. If he hadn’t missed the first five games of the season due to a biting ban, this title would be secured without a doubt in anyone’s minds.
And yes, it is hard to talk about Suarez without mentioning the controversies. Bans for biting and racist abuse are more than just blots on his CV.
He also attempted to force a move to Arsenal in 2013. The Anfield higher-ups promised him that he could leave the next summer. Barcelona came calling, and the legend of Luis Suarez continued to grow in Catalonia.
All the same, Suarez will go down in history as one of the best players to ever pull on a Liverpool shirt. It is without a doubt that he is the best striker to play for the club in the last ten years.