Top 5 Liverpool signings from the Bundesliga
Football is back! Well, in the form of the Bundesliga, but it's well worth watching at the best of times so today, it's like all our birthdays have come early.
First up, is Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04 and all eyes on Merseyside will be on this game. Most of them of the Red persuasion, as LFC fan's love-affair with the Black and Yellows continues.
In reality though, our relationship with Dortmund goes back much further than that, much like the Bundesliga, as Liverpool have a history of signing players - old and new - from the German top-flight.
So I'm taking a look at our top 5 players signed directly from Bundesliga clubs. Of which there have been more than you'd realise. Check out the list down below:
5. Karl-Heinz Riedle
When Riedle arrived at Anfield in 1997, he came with a reputation for being a winner. German championships, European Cups and a 1990 World Cup winner.
He came relatively cheap for the time and was considered a bit of a coup, even at 31. His best years were behind him but he still had plenty to offer. And his experience would help the younger players over the next few years.
A tally of 15 goals in just over 75 Liverpool games is far from phenomenal for a striker, but he was never intended as a first-choice and more than paid back the small fee we paid for him.
No trophies would mark his time at the club as a bit of a disappointment, but he arrived whilst Liverpool were struggling to carve our a new identity, during the late 90s. He was still a popular figure and boy, could the man head a ball.
4. Naby Keita
Still yet to convince many Liverpool fans, but there's clearly a very classy player inside the very shy form of Naby Keita.
Arriving - finally - in the summer of 2018, having initially been 'signed' the previous summer, Keita was expected to hit the ground running. The chances of that happening were halted by Klopp's keenness for slowly blooding players.
But the glimpses we did get were pretty impressive. Sadly, that's all we've really had of Keita in the last 20 months; mere glimpses of what he's capable of, primarily due to injury.
Despite that, there is still plenty of good spells and moments in the midfielder's short career. He's bossed midfields, dominated games and scored some greats goals.
He's also shown a silkiness to his play that none of our other midfield players have in their lockers, such as Bournemouth last seasons or Southampton earlier this season.
A record of 8 goals and assists from just over 50 games is not a spectacular start for Keita but it's something to build from. And I tell you what, those Champions League, World Club and Super Cup medals probably help too.
3. Markus Babbel
A few of our younger fans might not be too familiar with Babbel, due to the fact his short stay at Anfield was curtailed by a quite awful illness but he is easily one of our best ever signings. Not just from the Bundesliga.
Signed on a Bosman from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2000, it was quite a coup for Gerard Houllier's young Liverpool side. They'd been showing signs of promise the year before but needed quality and experience and Babbel had plenty of that.
Already a Bundesliga, UEFA Cup and German Cup winner, the - then - 27 year old was in his prime but was woefully under-appreciated in his homeland.
He was every bit the modern full-back; tall, athletic, fast and with real quality in the final third. He had a proper eye for goals too. Also, he could defend like a proper German.
His involvement in that special 2000-01 season saw him play 60 times, with 6 goals and 2 assists from right-back. He also finished the season with a League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners medal. Adding the Charity Shield and Super Cup later in 2001.
Unfortunately, Babbel contracted the horrible Guillain–Barré syndrome during his second season and we never quite got to see him properly again after that.
Much like other great right-backs, Rob Jones and Vegard Heggem, who's careers were cut short, Babbel was never the same again. But we'll always have that legendary season.
2. Joel Matip
When Joel signed for us on a free transfer in 2016, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a Liverpool fan that wasn't quietly impressed.
Matip arrived with a reputation as being a promising young German-born centre back. Tall, leggy and good on the ball. He was, like many of our Bundesliga signings, a bit of a coup.
Bayern had wanted him, as had Dortmund, but Schalke had been reluctant for him to move to a direct rival. So his decision to join Liverpool suited all parties.
His first season, we saw a classy centre back, a vast improvement on what we already had. But gradually his form became patchy and as inconsistent as his defensive partners.
But injuries to Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren allowed Matip to step up and he took his chance with both hands during the second half of the 2018-19 season. He played 32 times that season, most of those coming in the last 5 months.
He was arguably our better centre back during that spell, as he and Van Dijk rose to imperious levels. Even keeping a clean sheet in the final against Spurs.
He's often been preferred this season too, prior to an injury himself. But it's fair to say that for the lack of a fee, he's been an absolute bloody bargain. Over 100 games, already 3 majo trophies and the Premier League title surely just over the horizon as well.
1. Roberto Firmino
Was there ever likely to be another choice for our best ever Bundesliga buy? What makes it all the more glorious is the headlines that greeted his signing from the British press.
After a few games, the signing from Hoffenheim was called a waste of money, branded a £30 million flop and used as a stick with which to beat Michael Edwards and our transfer-committee.
Fast forward to today and Firmino is Brazil's main man, one of the most feared (and respected) front-men in Europe and a verified LFC legend.
It didn't start that way, with his original Liverpool manager - Brendan Rodgers - insisting on playing the man he simply didn't want on the left wing. But once Jurgen Klopp arrived, he was gradually molded into the best defensive forward in world football.
A genius, a typical Brazilian in many ways, our Bobby also has a fight and grit that's more akin to an Argentinian than one of the samba stars. But a record of 136 goals and assist in 230 odd games is highly impressive for a player of his sort.
At 28, he's at his peak. A Champions League winner and, soon to be, a Premier League winner too. We all have our favourite Bobby moments; his 'no-look' finishes, cheeky tricks and his insane celebrations.
Nobody would argue with Bobby being our greatest ever signing from the Bundesliga, and few still would disagree that he's one of our best ever. At £30-odd million, he's looking an even greater bargain as the seasons go by too.