Manchester United v Liverpool: The transfers that turned a rivalry into a mismatch
As Manchester United prepare to host Liverpool on Sunday, we look at how recent transfer windows have impacted this great rivalry.
Manchester United welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford on Sunday, with the great rivals separated by a mammoth gap after hugely contrasting starts to the season.
Unbeaten Liverpool have pulled away from United in recent times and are 15 points ahead of the Red Devils after the opening eight games.
Back in 2014, Liverpool finished the season with a 20-point advantage over United as they came second behind Manchester City in an engrossing title race.
Liverpool's superiority has been even more keenly felt this year and in the 2018-19 season they ended 31 points clear of United, with their squad set up to contend domestically and in the Champions League in the current campaign.
United, meanwhile, appear desperately short on the quality needed to challenge on any front.
How did the chasm between these two giants of English football become so vast? We look back at the ins and outs over the past five years for an insight into how United and Liverpool ended up so far apart.
In: Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Radamel Falcao (loan)
Out: Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck
In: Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Alberto Moreno, Mario Balotelli, Javier Manquillo (loan)
Out: Luis Suarez, Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Suso
League finish: United (4th), Liverpool (6th) - After going agonisingly close to ending a tortuous wait for a first league title since 1990, Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool went backwards after a transfer window filled with missteps. Lallana, Lovren and Origi remain at the club, with the latter scoring in last season's Champions League final win, but their first season saw a Liverpool side shorn of Suarez overtaken by a United team that finished in the top four despite Louis van Gaal failing to get the best out of Di Maria and Falcao.
In: Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Sergio Romero, Anthony Martial
Out: Tom Cleverley, Nani, Robin van Persie, Rafael, Angel Di Maria, Jonny Evans, Javier Hernandez
In: Joe Gomez, James Milner, Danny Ings, Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne, Christian Benteke, Marko Grujic (January)
Out: Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, Sebastian Coates, Iago Aspas
League finish: United (5th), Liverpool (8th) - Rodgers only lasted until October as Liverpool's new recruits struggled to make an immediate impact, with the void left by Sterling proving telling before Klopp came in to steady the ship. He led Liverpool to the final of the League Cup and the Europa League while Van Gaal finished his tenure with an FA Cup triumph, the only success of a stint in which his style of football was continually maligned despite the arrival of more big names at Old Trafford. The struggles of both clubs were overshadowed by Leicester City's remarkable season that ended with the Foxes winning the league.
50 - Sadio Mane has scored his 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool. He's the 10th player to reach the milestone for the club in the competition, more than any other side. Nifty. pic.twitter.com/XvpojW5a9v— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 5, 2019
In: Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba
Out: Victor Valdes, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay (both January), Bastian Schweinsteiger (March)
In: Joel Matip, Loris Karius, Sadio Mane, Ragnar Klavan, Georginio Wijnaldum
Out: Jose Enrique, Martin Skrtel, Jordon Ibe, Joe Allen, Christian Benteke, Mario Balotelli
League finish: United (6th), Liverpool (4th) - Klopp recently hailed the signing of Matip as one of the best pieces of business Liverpool have done in recent years and, along with Mane at the other end, was instrumental in securing a top-four finish for Klopp's side. The return of Pogba, for whom United paid a then world-record fee of €105million (£89.3m), and the appointment of Jose Mourinho did not inspire the Red Devils in the league but their success in the Europa League made sure of a place in the Champions League.
In: Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, Alexis Sanchez (January)
Out: Wayne Rooney, Adnan Januzaj, Henrikh Mkhitaryan (January)
In: Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke, Andy Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Virgil van Dijk (January)
Out: Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho, Philippe Coutinho (January)
League finish: United (2nd), Liverpool (4th) - Mourinho described his second-placed finish with United's 2017-18 vintage as "one of the best jobs of his career", so low was the Portuguese's opinion of his squad. Given the divergent paths of the two teams since, there appears to be significant credence to his argument. Salah, having failed to make the grade at Chelsea, fired in 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool, whose astute signings of Robertson and later Van Dijk helped turn their defence into one of the best in Europe. They progressed to the Champions League final despite the loss of Coutinho to Barcelona but were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in a controversial clash defined by goalkeeping errors that forced Liverpool's hand in the subsequent transfer window.
In : Diogo Dalot, Fred, Lee Grant
Out : Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini (February)
In: Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alisson
Out: Emre Can, Ragnar Klavan, Dominic Solanke, Lazar Markovic
League finish : United (6th), Liverpool (2nd) - Mourinho continually expressed his discontent at United's business in the window prior to the 2018-19 season, in which he only lasted until December as they endured a dreadful first half of the season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer inspired an upturn in fortunes, but they still finished well adrift of the top two as, five years on from Rodgers' near-miss, City again held off Liverpool. Keita, Fabinho and Shaqiri, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over United that ended Mourinho's tenure, proved superb additions to the midfield, while the signing of Alisson helped Liverpool keep 21 clean sheets in the league as Mane and Salah ran riot at the other end. That they missed out on the title with 97 points will continue to astonish, but they made no mistake in the Champions League final, winning a sixth European crown by defeating Tottenham.
In: Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire
Out: Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia, Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian
In: Harvey Elliott, Adrian, Andy Lonergan
Out: Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Danny Ings, Simon Mignolet
League position: United (12th), Liverpool (1st) - Liverpool added little to last season's squad but they have picked up where they left off, winning all of their eight league games to take an eight-point lead over City into this weekend's clash. The contrast to United is substantial. Solskjaer's men, despite adding a trio of bright talents, have endured their worst start to a Premier League season, with the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United last time out ratcheting up the scrutiny on the Norwegian.
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