sport news From bargain Hyypia to flop Diouf: Houllier's Liverpool transfers rated and ...

Liverpool's transfer business has come under the microscope after Jamie Carragher claimed it left them trailing behind their Premier League rivals at the turn of the century.

The Anfield legend made headlines when he admitted the club's transfer business under Gerard Houllier between 1998 and 2004 left them playing catch-up to their rivals, particularly Arsenal.

Carragher told Sky Sports: 'I think we were spending similar to Arsenal, and the big difference between [Gerard] Houllier and Arsene Wenger, though I adore Houllier, Wenger was a genius in the transfer market.

Jamie Carragher has criticised Liverpool's transfer dealings under Gerard Houllier

Jamie Carragher has criticised Liverpool's transfer dealings under Gerard Houllier

Houllier made a number of controversial decisions in the transfer market from 1998 to 2004

Houllier made a number of controversial decisions in the transfer market from 1998 to 2004 

'We signed Emile Heskey for £11 million, Wenger signed Henry for £11m. If we signed Nick Barmby for £6m, they signed Robert Pires for £6m. 

'They also got Sol Campbell on a free at that time. They just became superstars, whereas ours became very good players. 

'You see Christian Ziege; I think he was possibly the highest-paid player in the Premier League and it felt like the end of him playing left-back for Liverpool (when he made errors in a 4-3 loss to Leeds), and he ended up playing left midfield.

'Like Rio Ferdinand for £30m in the summer of 2002 after Arsenal won the league.  For us, we'd spend that money on four players, and you needed them all to work.'

Below are the major signings of the Houllier era - so were there were more hits than misses in his six years on Merseyside?

1998-99

Defender Rigobert Song was Houllier's second signing as Liverpool boss in early 1999

Defender Rigobert Song was Houllier's second signing as Liverpool boss in early 1999

Jean Michel Ferri - £1.5m

Jean Michel who? Houllier's first signing in English football is a good pub quiz question. Few remember the French journeyman who arrived from Istanbulspor in November 1998. He had to wait three months for his debut, and ended up playing only 47 minutes in two substitute appearances before he was shipped back to France.

MISS 

Rigobert Song - £2.6m

A colourful character who enjoyed a colourful career. Song spent 18 months at Anfield between 1999 and 2000 but faded after a bright start. He was committed in the challenge but too often let ill-discipline get the better of him.

MISS 

Djimi Traore - £550,000

More talented footballers have played for Liverpool. But they haven't all starred in a Champions League final. You can never take that away from Traore, who somehow spent seven long years at Anfield without ever doing much at all. Also responsible for one of the most comical of all time, backheeling over the line against Burnley in 2005.

HIT 

1999-2000

Sami Hyypia was one of Houllier's most inspired signings, costing just £2.5m from Willem II

Sami Hyypia was one of Houllier's most inspired signings, costing just £2.5m from Willem II

Liverpool parted with £8m to bring in German midfielder Dietmar Hamann from Newcastle

Liverpool parted with £8m to bring in German midfielder Dietmar Hamann from Newcastle

Sami Hyypia - £2.5m

Few had heard of the towering Finnish centre-back when he arrived for a small fee from Willem II in 1999. Ten years, 464 appearances and 10 trophies later there is little argument that he was Houllier's greatest signing.

HIT 

Vladimir Smicer - £3.75m

The Czech star had big shoes to fill when he replaced Steve McManaman. Injury dogged his time on Merseyside, restricting him to just 183 appearances in six years. But his quality was clear whenever he did get on the pitch, and his goalscoring role in the Miracle of Istanbul was quite the parting gift.

HIT 

Titi Camara - £2.6m

Often regarded as a joke figure by armchair fans, but Camara did little wrong in his short Liverpool career and is fondly remembered.. He scored 10 goals in his one full season, including a winner at Highbury and an emotional winner against West Ham, where he sank to his knees in tears the day after the passing of his father.

HIT 

Vladimir Smicer struggled with injury but made a lasting impression among Liverpool fans

Vladimir Smicer struggled with injury but made a lasting impression among Liverpool fans

Titi Camara became a cult hero at Anfield and scored a famous winning goal at Highbury

Titi Camara became a cult hero at Anfield and scored a famous winning goal at Highbury

Stephane Henchoz - £3.5m

One half of a formidable centre-back pairing alongside Hyypia, but the Swiss was viewed with scepticism when he arrived from Blackburn. That soon disappeared. Infamously remembered for his handball on the line against Thierry Henry in the 2001 FA Cup final, but otherwise was a brilliant bargain.

HIT 

Sander Westerveld - £4m

The Dutchman may have been between the sticks for Liverpool's cup treble in 2001, but he never truly convinced. An inconsistent shot-stopper and susceptible at crosses, he once famously blamed 'ice on the ball' for a mistake at Middlesbrough. Houllier was ruthless when he finally lost patience, replacing him with not one but two goalkeepers in one day.

MISS 

Erik Meijer - Free

Meijer became a cult hero on the Kop for his endless and tireless running. He never scored, but he celebrated every little decision that went his way like a goal. Lasted just one year but remains an avid fan and was among Liverpool supporters in Dortmund for the UEFA Cup final in 2001.

MISS 

Liverpool spent £11m on Emile Heskey, who scored 22 goals in the cup treble season

Liverpool spent £11m on Emile Heskey, who scored 22 goals in the cup treble season 

Dietmar Hamann - £8m

Liverpool were often accused of having a soft centre in the 90s, but the arrival of Hamann truly changed that. The German lifted nine pieces of silverware in seven years and his half-time introduction transformed the Champions League final in 2005.

HIT 

Emile Heskey - £11m

Much-maligned later in his career, but Heskey spent his best years at Liverpool and formed a potent partnership with Michael Owen - who went on to win the Ballon d'Or in no small part due to Heskey's help. The record signing scored 22 times in the cup treble season.

HIT 

2000-01

Bernard Diomede - £3m

A World Cup winner with France, Diomede was the first arrival in a busy summer of 2000. But the winger failed to make any impression, playing just five times in three years. Who knows how different his Anfield career could have been if a spectacular bicycle kick in his second game against hadn't been stopped on the line?

MISS 

Gary McAllister proved an inspired signing on a free transfer, despite his advancing years

Gary McAllister proved an inspired signing on a free transfer, despite his advancing years

Gary McAllister - Free

Eyebrows were raised and heads were scratched when Houllier brought 35-year-old McAllister to Anfield on a free from Coventry. But the veteran Scot rose to the challenge, scoring a famous long-range stoppage-time winner at Goodison Park and the decisive penalty in the UEFA Cup semi-final against Barcelona, before assisting the Alaves own goal that clinched the final.

HIT 

Pegguy Arphexad - Free

Liverpool have had a long line of unreliable back-up goalkeepers, and it probably all started with Arphexad. The bench-warmer, signed from Leicester, won as many trophies as he made appearances - six.

MISS 

Markus Babbel - Free

The acquisition of Babbel on a free transfer from Bayern Munich was a real coup for Houllier. He arrived with real pedigree and performed with distinction, scoring in the UEFA Cup final to cap a season where his rampaging runs from right-back were a prominent feature. Unable to make a full recovery after being struck down by the debilitating Guillain-Barre Syndrome in late 2001.

HIT 

Nick Barmby - £6m

Barmby sent shockwaves across Merseyside when he swapped Everton for Liverpool. He spent just two seasons at Anfield, but his eight goals in 2000-01 more than played their part in a memorable season and he was an England regular. 

HIT 

Nick Barmby rocked Merseyside when he swapped Everton for Liverpool in summer 2000

Nick Barmby rocked Merseyside when he swapped Everton

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