Liverpool signed £4m ‘perfect fit’ to replace Luis Suarez but he retired three years later

Liverpool are in a relatively stable place in terms of the first-team squad and no longer having the unwanted tag of being a selling club.

There was a time that whenever a player truly made his mark at Anfield, some of Europe’s biggest clubs would almost always come knocking. Fernando Torres, Michael Owen and more recently, Philippe Coutinho.

Another was Luis Suarez. He was always destined to leave Liverpool after scoring 31 goals in 31 league appearances in 2013/14, and inevitably completed a £75million move to Barcelona that summer.

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Liverpool were tasked with finding a replacement. A near impossible task, but the Reds did not wait around to try and find a new striker.

On this day (June 2) in 2014, Liverpool made the move to bring 32-year-old Rickie Lambert to the club. The Reds agreed a £4m plus add-ons deal with Southampton for the striker, who came through the youth ranks at Anfield.

“I can’t believe it. I’ve loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago – and I haven’t stopped loving it since,” Lambert told the club’s website after signing.

“I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn’t think the chance would come.

“I know how big Liverpool are – and it means everything to me – but I know what is important; I know it’s what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that’s what matters, and that’s what I’ll be focused on.”

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The arrival of Lambert was heavily praised by club legend Robbie Fowler. He, in fact, described the move as a “perfect fit” for everyone concerned.

“From a Liverpool point of view, I think it is a perfect fit,” Fowler told BBC Sport back in 2014.

“He is probably a little bit different to what the Reds have already but he is a Liverpool lad and all his family are Liverpool fans. So straight away, you’re going to get that added 10 percent from him.

“He’ll give his all and for £4m or £5m, I think it is a fantastic bit of business. He is an England striker with a proven record in the Premier League.

“I know he hasn’t fitted in with Liverpool’s ideas in the past, where we’ve wanted young, vibrant, fast players. I think sometimes you do need a bit of experience as Roy Hodgson has shown with his [England] squad.

“But I think he is a fantastic player and he’ll add to what we have in the squad already.”

Everything was set up for Lambert’s return to Anfield to be a success. Unfortunately, it was anything but.

His one and only season in a Liverpool shirt ended with him scoring just three goals in 36 appearances. Two of those came in the Premier League, with the other coming in a Champions League group stage draw with Ludogorets.

In January 2015, Liverpool apparently received a £5m offer from Aston Villa for Lambert’s services just a few months after he arrived at the club. The Reds are thought to have accepted the bid, but Lambert said no to the move and opted to stay at Anfield.

Lambert’s time as a Liverpool player officially came to an end in July 2015, a little over a year after he joined the club. The Reds received a little under £3m for the striker from West Brom.

After just a single year at the Hawthorns, Lambert was on the move again and signed for Cardiff City in 2016. However, another year later he was a free agent after being released and would confirm his retirement from football in October 2017.

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