GARY LINEKER WAS SUED AFTER MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT LIVERPOOL TRANSFER

Liverpool are very much opportunists in the transfer market these days, with incoming sporting director Richard Hughes recently confirming to expect similar from the Reds this summer.

In recent years, the clubs have regularly pounced to take advantage of a transfer release clause, snap up a quality player when suddenly made available for transfer or land a target for what they consider to be a bargain fee.

The arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch arguably all fell into such boxes last summer, while the same applies for previous signings Cody Gakpo, Fabio Carvalho, Luis Diaz, Ibrahima Konate, Thiago Alcantara, Takumi Minamino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alisson Becker, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

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Yet this is not a new phenomenon, limited to just the Jurgen Klopp/FSG era. Liverpool bosses have never been one to say no to a bargain.

The signing of Harry Kewell on this day in 2003 is one such example, when the Reds took advantage of Leeds United’s perilous financial situation to bring in one of the Premier League’s most exciting attacking players for just £5m.

Having originally been offered £7m, and been left banking only £3m due to payments owed to Kewell’s agent, understandably Leeds - who would go on to suffer relegation from the English top-flight that season - were not happy.

Ultimately, their hand was forced when the Australian insisted he was only interested in joining his boyhood club.

At the time, Leeds chairman John McKenzie furiously said of the transfer: "I am angry and frustrated at the outrageous situation that has developed.

“There were clubs willing to pay more than the £5m Liverpool offered. Mr (Bernie) Mandic (Kewell’s agent) has listed them - Barcelona, Manchester United, Milan, Chelsea.

“But it was made clear to me that the player was not prepared to go, and, if we did not fall into line, he would leave for nothing. So what could we do?”

To further add to the controversy, Kewell would later sue Match of the Day host and England legend Gary Lineker after taking issue with the former striker’s column about his transfer to Liverpool.

A seven-day hearing followed at the high court in 2005 over the article, which was headlined "Kewell move made me feel ashamed of the game”. And while it might be over 21 years since the Australian’s controversial move to Anfield, Lineker still feels aggrieved by the whole affair.

Mandic had started negotiations with Liverpool himself, with Lineker taking issue with the fact that the agent was able to work on behalf of both the player and the selling club. Lineker denied libel and pled a defence of fair comment at the time, before branding the whole episode as ‘ludicrous’ earlier this year.

"Do you know Harry Kewell sued me?” Lineker told The Rest Is Football podcast with Alan Shearer and Micah Richards back in February. “It's quite a while ago, I used to have a column and it was around transfers.

"I was talking about how agents shouldn't be allowed to represent both parties in terms of the football club on both sides and the player himself because of conflict of interest. He sued me over this because I called him naive for that. It was obvious that his agent took the hump.

"I was in court for four or five days giving evidence, it was ludicrous and obviously it didn't transpire that he won the case.

"But I was thinking 'I feel like a criminal, all I've done is call him naive'. It was surreal, so surreal. There was a jury! Honestly. It went on and on and I just thought 'this won't happen, it's madness'. It was a waste, nuts. I haven't seen him since."

Kewell had been seeking substantial damages from Lineker and his fellow defendants, the Sunday Telegraph's sports editor Jon Ryan and Telegraph Group Ltd. With no verdict reached by the jury in the High Court hearing, the two sides eventually settled out of court.

Meanwhile, Kewell’s time at Liverpool was ultimately plagued by injury as he struggled to live up to initial expectations. While going on to win the Champions League and FA Cup with the Reds, the Australian was limited to making 139 appearances, returning 16 goals and 16 assists, during his five years at Anfield.

2024-07-09T05:11:59Z dg43tfdfdgfd