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Liverpool's greatest ever overseas XI: Who joins Alisson and Van Dijk in team?

Published on: 27 October 2020

Earlier in the week former footballer turned pundit Gary Neville caused quite a stir on social media after selecting his all-time Manchester United XI, containing only non-British and Irish players.

Neville was asked by a football fan on Twitter to name his best ever United team, using players from any countries apart from the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland.

Always keen to take on a challenge, Neville duly obliged and provided further entertainment with his surprise inclusions of the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron and Rafael.

But how difficult is the challenge, to rack the brain and think of the best team of foreign imports of each current Premier League side?

Sportsmail was keen to give it a go, starting on the red half of Merseyside with Liverpool.

Goalkeeper - Alisson Becker, Brazil

The man between the sticks has historically always been a troublesome position for the Reds.

Since the reign of the imperious Ray Clemence, Liverpool had gone through stages of having real issues with finding a goalkeeper who fits the bill.

During the domestic and European title glories of the eighties Liverpool called upon the enigmatic Bruce Grobbelaar, who both wowed and terrified the Kop in equal measure.

The South African showman holds the affection of many Liverpudlian hearts, though settles for a place on the bench in this instance.

For it is with the emergence of Alisson Becker that Liverpool have truly found a goalkeeper of the stature of Clemence and somebody who looks set to go on to become a bonafide club legend.

Alisson epitomises everything that the modern goalkeeper should be; quick, agile, tactically aware and equally adept with his feet as he is with his hands.

It was no coincidence that Alisson's arrival pushed Liverpool to new heights, and allowed the club to finally end its 30-year wait to be declared champions of England.

Right back - Markus Babbel, Germany

For many, Babbel's career at Liverpool may always be a case of what could have been.

The workaholic German carved a solid reputation for himself after giving every ounce of blood, sweat and tears for the red shirt, yet his Premier League career was sadly curtailed by a terrifying illness.

Babbel arrived at a time when Liverpool were looking to get back on the up and reinvent themselves under Gerard Houiller.

Signing as a free agent from German giants Bayern Munich, Babbel even turned down Real Madrid after insisting he had already pledged himself to Liverpool.

He arrived at Anfield in June 2000 as one of the most decorated players in German football history. Two spells with Munich saw Babbel win the German championship four times, along with a string of domestic cups.

Babbel knew his way up and down the flanks, though was never known for his goal-scoring prowess as seen with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold today. Yet he popped up when it mattered most, scoring his most crucial goal in Liverpool colours in Dortmund when the Reds beat Alaves to win the 2001 UEFA Cup.

His sturdiness and dependability ensure the German gets a place in the all-time XI.

Centre back - Sami Hyypia, Finland

For years the big Finn was an immovable object at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Hyypia goes down as one of Liverpool's all-time best bargain signings, having arrived from Willem II for just over £2million.

Dominating in the heart of defence with his bright crop of blond hair and powerful frame, Hyypia immediately looked tailor-made for English football and its physical demands.

Hyypia took over the armband at Anfield, and wore it proudly and expertly before putting his ego aside and offering it to an emerging Steven Gerrard.

Though he lost pace in his latter years at club, Hyypia's telepathic reading of the game saw him retain his Liverpool place and come back into the side to answer the call of Rafa Benitez.

In total Hyypia made 464 appearances and scored 35 goals, winning 10 trophies in the 10 years he was at Liverpool.

Centre back - Virgil van Dijk, Holland

It goes without saying that Van Dijk goes down as one of the most transformative signings in Premier League history, after thrusting Liverpool in front of all their rivals.

Like Hyypia alongside him in this team, Van Dijk stands as a colossus and a picture of sheer physical dominance.

The Dutchman arrived at Anfield and brought with him the full package, showing his multi-faceted game left no stone unturned.

In his first two seasons with the club Van Dijk made consecutive Champions League finals, winning the second one in Madrid to see Liverpool lift their sixth European Cup.

It came as little surprise that a league title would follow, as Van Dijk helped craft the back-line into an impenetrable unit.

Now at 29 years old, and potentially remaining at his peak for several years to come, Van Dijk is well on course to surpass the icons of Ron Yeats and Alan Hansen to go down as Liverpool's greatest ever.

Left back - John Arne Riise, Norway

Another problematic area for Liverpool always seemed to fall on the left side of defence.

It was only until the arrival of John Arne Riise from Monaco in the summer of 2001 that Liverpool realised they finally had a player who could give them an added dimension.

Riise was a player unlike no other at the time, boasting solid defending skills while also carrying himself up and down the pitch like a physical and domineering old school winger.

With lung-busting fitness levels and a body looking as though chiseled from marble, Riise hit the ground running with Liverpool and soon made the left back slot his own.

The end of the Norwegian's career on Merseyside saw some errors creep into his game, though fans will always recall those iconic moments such as the net-ripping effort against Manchester United at Anfield, and the cross for Steven Gerrard on 'that night' in Istanbul.

Riise's name was belted out on the Kop on a weekly basis, and the industrious full-back rightly earned all praise that came his way. He departed Anfield as both a Champions League and FA Cup winner.

Central midfield - Jan Molby, Denmark

In Jan Molby Liverpool had an outrageously talented footballer perhaps born into the wrong era of the game.

Everything about the nimble Molby suggested he could make it in today's game as we know and love it, though his years on Merseyside between 1984 and 1995 brought the Kop endless joy and memories by the barrel-load.

Much like Gerrard, who would follow on years later, Molby saw passes on the field that simply nobody else could.

Whereas many players are first and foremost a footballer, Molby was an artist. Passing and shooting ability came naturally to the Dane, who picked up an endearing Scouse twang to his accent during his many years of growth and development in English football.

It would ultimately be battles with his weight and fitness that pegged Molby back, though two league titles and two FA Cups saw the playmaker add some of the game's most desired silverware to his collection.

Under present day fitness regimes and training schedules Molby would have likely reached even greater heights, which is a prospect almost too scary to think of.

Liverpool were blessed to have the man from Denmark, who is always welcomed back to Anfield with open arms.

Central midfield - Xabi Alonso, Spain

In tandem with Molby, another artist extraordinaire who waltzes into the side is Xabi Alonso.

With Liverpool, Alonso forged his early reputation as one of the best passers in world football.

Though his style was always classy, refined and delicate, Alonso never shied away from getting stuck into the big tackles and winning possession back for his side.

Gerrard has on many previous occasions admitted Alonso is the best midfielder he ever played alongside, which is quite some praise indeed.

The Kop adored Alonso and in turn the Spaniard loved everything about his adopted city.

It was the nerves and mental capacity of Alonso which saw him slot the ball home against AC Milan in Istanbul, despite missing his initial penalty attempt against Dida in goal.

Whenever Liverpool needed to pull strings in midfield to raise or lower the tempo Alonso was always the go-to man, regardless of the level of opponent.

The fact that Alonso is one of the few midfielders in Liverpool history who could get into today's title-winning side is testament to his stature in the game.

Right wing - Mohamed Salah, Egypt

Returning to English football with a point to prove, nobody really believed Mo Salah would be as good as he has been.

Such are the ridiculously high levels Salah sets now, people often under appreciate just how much the Egyptian has achieved and the mind-blowing statistics he is amassing.

Not a season has gone by where Salah has not broken a record, after signing for Liverpool from Roma in 2017.

In 161 games Salah has a remarkable 100 goals. He is converting faster than all those that have gone before him, despite not arriving at the club as an out-and-out striker.

Records held by the likes of the revered Ian Rush have fallen to Salah, as the Egyptian has gone about his business in ruthless fashion and shown himself to be a serial winner.

Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot in each of his first two seasons with Liverpool, and was in the reckoning for last season's award entering the final match week of the season.

Put simply, Salah is a modern day footballing phenomenon and walks into the all-time Liverpool XI with no questions asked.

Left wing - Sadio Mane, Senegal

The rise of Salah tied in nicely with the awakening of Sadio Mane, who at Liverpool turned his game from highly promised into undisputed world class ability.

Questions were asked when Liverpool forked out £30m to Southampton, though a stunning debut away to Arsenal - in which he scored a remarkable solo goal - soon silenced the critics.

Mane has gone from strength to strength ever since, increasing his goal haul season upon season and becoming a vital component in Liverpool's current attacking juggernaut.

In his last three seasons Mane has surpassed the 20-goal mark for Liverpool, in all competitions, and has forged an understanding with Andy Robertson on the left flank which is the envy of most European sides.

Mane has proven time and time again he can be Liverpool's big game player when the side need him most, and is often credited for standing in and picking up the slack during the rare barren spells which team-mate Salah can endure.

Striker - Luis Suarez, Uruguay

The Uruguayan made things happen at Anfield that most people still cannot explain to this day.

Considering he played predominantly in a Liverpool team suffering with the hangover of transition, Suarez came to the fore and developed into one of the most feared attackers in world football.

In his Liverpool pomp there was nothing Suarez could not do. To this day he goes down as arguably the most naturally talented football player to have pulled on the famous red shirt.

With magnetic ball control, stealthy movement and endless tenacity and zest for the game, Suarez was a nightmare to play against and opposition defenders dreaded it.

With Gerrard behind him, Suarez started to score goals in all shapes and sizes... and simply did not stop. Even after missing the start of the 2013-14 season due to his controversial biting episode, Suarez still finished top scorer in the division and came within a whisker of ending Liverpool's long wait for a league title.

His move to Barcelona hurt the club, but Suarez still goes down as an undisputed great.

Striker - Fernando Torres, Spain

There was a time at Liverpool - a brief window - in which Fernando Torres was the best striker on the planet.

The baby-faced 'El Nino' with his flowing locks brought a spark back to Anfield which many fans feared had faded forever.

Torres arrived when Liverpool were becoming stagnant, choosing the Reds after placing his trust in manager Benitez and becoming infatuated with everything the club stood for.

Torres was made to feel at home and, as a result, the goals started to flow. Flow and flow until they flooded into every single match; home, away in the domestic cups or in Europe.

Torres won the Golden Boot and very nearly powered Liverpool to the title in the 2008-09 season. Only four points separated the Reds and eventual winners Manchester United.

Though Liverpool were still struggling in other areas, Torres solved the goals problem on his own - generously fuelled by the mercurial Gerrard.

In 142 appearances Torres scored 81 times for Liverpool, weighing in with 20 assists.

Substitutes / Honourable mentions

Bruce Grobbelaar, Zimbabwe

Stig Inge Bjornebye, Norway

Javier Mascherano, Argentina

Roberto Firmino, Brazil

Philippe Coutinho, Brazil

Fabio Aurelio, Brazi.

Dirk Kuyt, Holland

Jari Litmanen, Finland


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