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Liverpool’s Champions League XI and their most unexpected/pleasing former team-mates

Fabinho passes to Ozil... and it's RONALDO!!!

Long-time readers of Dream Team will know how needlessly fascinated we are with forgotten team-mate combinations.

With the focus rightly on Liverpool’s Champions League winners right now, we decided to dig into each of the starting XI’s past.

We’ve picked out a pleasing/unexpected/epic former team-mate of each…

ALISSON & DIEGO FORLAN

He was never a boy, he was born a man

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He was never a boy, he was born a man

Forlan enjoyed successful spells with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid but Premier League loyalists remember him for his underwhelming two years with Man United.

Despite the Uruguayan’s modest goal return, he is remembered fondly by the Old Trafford because of his brace at Anfield in a famous United win in 2002.

Forlan capitalised on a howler from Jerzy Dudek that day, and it’s his historical connection to a Liverpool keeper that forms the basis of our choice.

Alisson and Forlan shared a dressing room at Internacional for one season in 2013/14.

Back then the young Brazilian was the inexperienced third-choice keeper while Forlan was the veteran striker with a World Cup Golden Ball on his mantelpiece.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD & ALEX MANNINGER

Old friends

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Old friends

Liverpool’s assist-loving right-back is still fresh-faced so he’s yet build an extensive catalogue of former team-mates.

The best we could do was Manninger, whose season as back-up to Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet in 2016/17 had escaped our memories.

Alexander-Arnold wasn’t even born when Manninger won the double with Arsenal in 1997/98.

JOEL MATIP & RAUL

Once upon a time…

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Once upon a time…

In his second full season as a senior professional, Matip became team-mates with Raul.

The legendary Spaniard was Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer at the time and his transfer to Schalke was seen as shrewd business.

With Manuel Neuer in goal, Ivan Rakitic and Julian Draxler in midfield, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar up top, Schalke won the DFB-Pokal and Supercup in 2011.

Schalke actually retired their No7 shirt in honour of Raul… before realising it was a rash decision and reversing it.

VIRGIL VAN DIJK & TEEMU PUKKI

Yes, that’s Robbo as well

Kenny Ramsay - The Sun Glasgow
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Yes, that’s Robbo as well

We were tempted to go with Dusan Tadic for big Virg.

Everyone knows they were team-mates at Southampton but we’re more intrigued by their time together at Groningen (Luis Suarez’s former club) in 2011/12.

However, we decided on Pukki because we liked the dynamic of the Premier League’s best defender and the Championship’s top scorer.

The pair were team-mates at Celtic, where Pukki failed to impress.

Don’t be too surprised to see 2018/19’s Championship Player of the Year share a few kind words with 2018/19’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year when Liverpool play Norwich next season.

ANDREW ROBERTSON & HATEM BEN ARFA

Nonconformist

PA:Empics Sport
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Nonconformist

Doesn’t this bring a smile to your face?

While Robertson was acclimatising to Premier League life following his switch to Hull from Dundee United, Ben Arfa dialled up his maverick persona to the extreme.

The enigmatic Frenchman was supposed to be on loan at the KCOM Stadium for a full season, but he fled the country in December without notice.

Manager Steve Bruce admitted to the media he had no idea where Ben Arfa was later in the season.

This combination is all about contrast — how to make the most of your talent, and how to waste it.

JORDAN HENDERSON & CALLUM WILSON

Champions League winning captain

Action Images - Reuters
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Champions League winning captain

England team-mates today, this pair first met at Coventry City in 2009.

Wilson made his name at the Midlands club while Henderson visited briefly on loan from Sunderland, playing just 13 games for the Sky Blues.

If you prefer someone from Hendo’s Black Cats days then we offer up a choice of Dwight Yorke, Bolo Zenden, Sulley Muntari or Danny Welbeck.

FABINHO & CRISTIANO RONALDO

This is the only photo available

Getty Images - Getty
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This is the only photo available

Curious one.

Only die-hard Real Madrid fans will recall Fabinho’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Real Madrid career.

The Brazilian played 14 minutes of Los Blancos 6-2 win over nine-man Malaga in May 2013 after being promoted from Castilla (on loan from Rio Ave).

Raul Albiol opened the scoring but the rest of the scorers that day made quite the shortlist for unexpected ex-team-mates of Fabinho: Ronaldo, Ozil, Benzema, Modric, Di Maria.

Fabinho went from there to Monaco before joining Jurgen Klopp’s revolution at Anfield.

As for Ronaldo, we’re not sure what happened to him…

GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM & JON DAHL TOMASSON

Bring back the barnet

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Bring back the barnet

This one works for us because it feels like their careers shouldn’t have overlapped… and they both spent one season at Newcastle.

Tomasson won a Champions League of his own in 2002/03 with AC Milan, back when a young Wijnaldum has dreams of becoming an acrobat.

As is customary with many players, the Dane returned to the club he represented most to finish his career — in this case, Feyenoord.

There he was impressed by an energetic midfielder who went by the nickname Gini.

SADIO MANE & TOBY ALDERWEIRELD

South coast gang

PA:Press Association
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South coast gang

Liverpool ensured the Champions League final had plenty of ex-Southampton representation, but Spurs had one of their own in Alderweireld.

The Belgian spent a season on loan at St Mary’s with Atletico Madrid satisfied in defence.

Alderweireld at the back and Mane up front meant the Saints were a force to be reckoned with, finishing 7th.

Both were plucked by bigger clubs and have since become among the best the Premier League has to offer in their respective positions.

ROBERTO FIRMINO & GYLFI SIGURDSSON

Braces and all

Getty - Contributor
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Braces and all

They may be on opposite sides of the Merseyside derby these days but Firmino and Sigurdsson once shared the same objectives.

The Icelandic playmaker joined Hoffenheim first, moving from Reading in 2010.

Liverpool’s current No9 followed a more traditional route after switching the Brazilian league for a top European league in 2011.

The pair’s trajectories went in opposite directions soon after.

Sigurdsson, after being named Fans’ Player of the Season in 2010/11, fell out of favour the following campaign and sought a loan to Swansea in search of playing time.

Whereas Firmino squashed some early disciplinary issues to become one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting talents, impressing Borussia Dortmund’s gaffer at the time, Mr Klopp.

MOHAMED SALAH & MICAH RICHARDS

It was a different time

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It was a different time

After initial temptation from Granit Xhaka’s brother Taulant, we moved away from Salah’s Basel years and looked back at his time with Fiorentina.

And what a treasure trove: Marcos Alonso, Alberto Aquilani, Joaquin, Alberto Gilardino, Mario Gomez…

But because English internationals playing abroad is so rare, we opted for Micah Richards.

Starved of minutes at Man City, the physically imposing defender negotiated a loan move to Serie A.

Salah did a similar thing after it became apparent Chelsea didn’t have much time for him.

The Egyptian winger enjoyed himself, scoring nine goals from 26 appearances in all competitions.

Richards had to settle for a diminished role, starting just seven games for La Viola.

The two could not be further apart right now.

Salah has won two Golden Boots in consecutive Premier League seasons and a Champions League medal around his neck after scoring in the final.

30-year-old Richards has just been released by Aston Villa having not played for nearly three seasons.


NEXT: Dream Team’s alternative End of Season awards — Champions League edition

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