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Looking back at the players Liverpool tried at left-back between John Arne Riise and Andy Robertson

It’s not always been marauding runs, adept decision-making and pinpoint crosses when it comes to Liverpool’s options at full-back.

While it’s the widely held opinion that the Reds have two of the best in the world right now in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson – it’s certainly not always been the case.

In fact, left-back in particular was a problem position for the side until only recently.

Perfect pairing

AFP or licensors
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Perfect pairing

The Reds spent nearly 10 years searching for someone with the sort of quality that Robertson brings to the side.

Arguably they’ve been searching for the Scotsman ever since John Arne Riise left the club for Roma in 2008, with some of their signings in the years after the Norwegian’s departure proving to be problematic, forgettable and down-right laughable.

Fabio Aurelio (2006-2012)

Robby Carlos would be proud

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Robby Carlos would be proud

Liverpool’s recent success has been built around a spine of Brazilian brilliance in Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, but the Reds’ first-ever Brazil-born signing will perhaps go down as one of the club’s more enduring characters of their pre-Jurgen Klopp period.

Aurelio, like many of Liverpool’s signings back then, was snapped up from Rafa Benitez’s former club Valencia in 2006 and after jostling for first-choice status with Riise, he was considered the club’s long-term option at left-back.

His Anfield career was full of special moments that endeared him to the club’s fan base – not least because of his typically South American creativity and set-piece wizardry which made him exciting and unpredictable.

But his time in England was overshadowed by a constant string of serious injuries which limited him to just 134 appearances in his six-year spell with the Reds, and he eventually returned to Brazil in 2012 – retiring just a year later.

Emiliano Insua (2007-2011)

One for the nostalgic

Times Newspapers Ltd
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One for the nostalgic

Aurelio wasn’t the only highly-rated South American left-back at Liverpool during this period, with the highly-rated Insua considered one for the future when he joined from Boca Juniors in 2007.

As his Brazilian teammate battled injury-woes, Insua took full advantage; making 44 appearances for the first-team during the 2009/10 season.

But Liverpool were in the midst of an almighty slump and when Roy Hodgson replaced Benitez as their manager in 2010, Insua was sent packing by the former England gaffer to make way for a certain Paul Konchesky (more on him later).

While he never quite lived up to his early promise, Insua did manage to forge a credible career and recently moved to MLS giants LA Galaxy.

Andrea Dossena (2008-2010)

Oh what a night!

Bradley Ormesher - The Times
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Oh what a night!

Dossena’s short stay on Merseyside was seemingly cursed from the very beginning, with the Italian signed up during the same transfer window that saw Liverpool bring in the likes of David N’Gog, Robbie Keane and Albert Riera.

But while his year-and-a-half stint at the club was largely forgettable, he did manage to write himself into Anfield folklore by scoring brilliant late goals against Real Madrid and then Man United – both goals coming four days apart.

Paul Konchesky (2010-2011)

This happened

Bradley Ormesher - The Times
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This happened

It’s hard to believe now, but Roy Hodgson was hot property back in 2010 following his wonderful spell at Fulham – which ended in him guiding the Cottagers to the Europa League final.

Naturally he was handed the reigns at Liverpool when Benitez departed, and one of his signings in his first and only summer transfer window with the Reds was his trusted left-back at Fulham Konchesky.

But the then 29-year-old is perhaps best remembered for his part in the side that endured the club’s worst start to a season for 57 years.

It all came to head after a 2-0 defeat to Stoke in November 2011, when Konchesky’s mum vented her anger at Liverpool fans who’d booed her son during the game with an infamous rant on Facebook.

When Kenny Dalglish was brought into replace Hodgson later that year, Konchesky was barely seen around the first-team again and joined Leicester in the following summer.

Jack Robinson (2010-2014)

Golf swing

Alan Walter - The Times
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Golf swing

Having made his senior debut at the age of 16 years and 250 days, Robinson became the second-youngest player to play for Liverpool at the time.

But that was about as good as it got for the academy graduate, who struggled for regular first-team chances and eventually left for QPR, via loan spells at Wolves and Blackpool.

Now aged 26, he’s currently on the books at Premier League surprise-package Sheffield United.

Jon Flanagan (2010-2018)

Made of tough stuff

Getty - Contributor
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Made of tough stuff

Alongside Robinson, Flanagan was another Liverpool starlet brought into the first-team under Daglish to fill in the holes of their depleted back-line.

A right-back by trade, Flanno at least enjoyed more of a run in the Reds first-team than Robbo and he was occasionally used as an emergency option on the left – even impressing enough to win the club’s young player award in 2011.

Such was his rise in the team that Brazil legend and fellow full-back Cafu once described the youngster as his ‘successor’, claiming he “has everything required to be one of the best full-backs in the world”.

What a time to be alive, huh?

His form at Liverpool helped the side finish as Premier League runners-up in 2014 and even earned him an England call-up, but ‘the Scouse Cafu’ never lived up to his billing and after a 20-month injury lay-off and an assault conviction in 2018, he’s now on the books at Rangers under the watchful eye of Steven Gerrard.

Jose Enrique (2011-2016)

One of Kenny’s better signings

Action Images - Reuters
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One of Kenny’s better signings

Another well-received full-back who suffered an ill-fated spell at Anfiel -; Enrique joined the Reds during the summer window of 2011 alongside the mixed bag of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing.

While he made 99 appearances for the side, his time at the club – like a few we’ve mentioned here already – was blighted by injury, with the likeable Spaniard suffering a persistent knee injury that saw him make just 21 appearances in his final three seasons, before leaving for Real Zaragoza in 2016 and then retiring in 2017.

After successfully undergoing surgery for a brain tumour a year later, Enrique now works as a football agent.

Aly Cissokho (2013-2014)

It was genuinely difficult to find a picture of this guy in a red shirt

PA:Press Association
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It was genuinely difficult to find a picture of this guy in a red shirt

Of all the players we’ve listed so far, Cissokho is perhaps the most disappointing of them all.

Once regarded as a genuine world class star of the future, the Frenchman joined the Reds from Valencia in 2013 having previously made a name for himself at Lyon.

Initially signed as competition at left-back for Enrique, Cissokho was such a poor stand-in for the constantly-injured Spaniard that it meant Rodgers was forced to give Flanagan a run-out in the position and even Glen Johnson was preferred in the role to the France international.

Thankfully, he was only signed on a season-long loan and promptly returned to Spain a year later – having made just a handful of appearances.

Alberto Moreno (2014-2019)

Could’ve been a star

Reuters
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Could’ve been a star

Fast, strong and offensively-minded, Moreno had all the hallmarks of a great wing-back when he was signed from Sevilla in 2014.

But while the Spaniard was an excellent attacking outlet, he was often wildly inconsistent and error-prone in defence, with his lapses in concentration often costing Liverpool gravely.

His performance in the 2016 Europa League final is perhaps his most infamous example, with many fans, pundits and journalists blaming him for the Reds’ second-half collapse that saw them lose 3-1 – despite leading at half-time.

Gary Neville once put it lightly on Sky Sports when he said: “You might as well start a goal down with Moreno at left-back.”

Andy Robertson (2017-present)

Peter Parker

Getty Images - Getty
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Peter Parker

In many ways, Robertson ticks off all of the best bits of some of Liverpool’s previous left-backs – the tenacity of Enrique, the flair of Moreno and passion of Flanagan – but his energy and work-rate is perhaps unmatched.

Brought in for just £8 million from Hull in 2017, Robertson initially struggled for game-time in the side and some fans felt he was another player waiting to succumb to their left-back curse.

But he’s thrived under Klopp ever since and there’s few players better than him in his position right now – and he has a Champions League winners’ medal to back it up.

Last season he was named in the PFA Team of the Year and will, sooner-or-later, add a Premier League title to his honours list.

It’s been a long and winding road, but Liverpool have finally got a left-back who’s able to compete among the best. 


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