Since the inception of Liverpool F.C., 32 players have held the distinction of being the club's record signing. The first, William Dunlop (right, top) was signed for £35 in 1895. 123 years later, and the record has increased by well over two million-fold to the £75,000,000 paid for the services of Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk (right, bottom). The list below depicts how Liverpool's record transfer fee paid has progressed over time.
William Dunlop- £35
23-year-old Scottish left back William "Billy" Dunlop is likely Liverpool's first transfer record holder when he joined the club in January 1895 from Paisley Abercorn for £35. He would go on to play for Liverpool for 14 years, amassing an impressive 325 appearances.
Francis Becton- £100
21-year-old Striker Francis "Frank" Becton broke Dunlop's record just two months later when he joined Liverpool in March 1895 from Preston North End. He had a fine career at Liverpool, playing in 70 games and scoring 38 goals.
John Walker- £350
Three years after the signing of Becton, Liverpool manager Tom Watson recruited 23-year-old Scottish inside forward Walker in April 1898 from Heart of Midlothian for £350.
Sam Hardy- £500
In May 1905 Liverpool broke their transfer record again with the £500 purchase of 22-year-old Chesterfield goalkeeper, Sam Hardy. Hardy was renownd as one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation whilst at Liverpool and stayed with the club for seven years. To date, he is the only goalkeeper to have held Liverpool's transfer record, and falls only months short of being the longest record holder, at exactly 16 years.
Fred Hopkin- £2,800
In May 1921, Liverpool smashed the £1000-mark with a £2,800 purchase of Manchester United 25-year-old outside left forward Fred Hopkin. Hopkin would go on to play for the club for a decade, clocking up 335 appearances and netting 10 goals. He held the transfer record for over six years.
Tom Morrison- £4,000
Liverpool signed 23-year-old Scottish defender Tom Morrison in November 1927 from St. Mirren for £4,000. He spent eight years at the club, making 254 appearances before moving on to Sunderland. He held the Liverpool transfer record for nearly two years.
Jim Smith- £5,500
Liverpool signed 27-year-old Scottish striker Jimmy Smith in September 1929 from Ayr United for £5,500. He went on to play 61 games for Liverpool, hitting 38 goals before departing for Tunbridge Wells. He held the transfer record for just three months.
Tom Bradshaw- £8,000
Liverpool's next transfer record came in January 1930 with the purchase of another Scot, 25-year-old Tom Bradshaw, who transferred from Bury for £8,000. Bradshaw played at the back mostly as a centre half, and stayed at Anfield for eight years, making 277 league appearances. He held the transfer record for almost 17 years, just edging out Sam Hardy and his successor to the title, Albert Stubbins as Liverpool's longest-reigning transfer record holder.
Albert Stubbins- £12,500
On 12 September 1946, Liverpool paid Newcastle United £12,500 for the services of the-then 27-year old centre forward, Albert Stubbins, who went on to score 83 goals in 178 competitive appearances for the Reds. Stubbins held the Liverpool transfer record for nearly 14 years.
Kevin Lewis- £13,000
Liverpool broke the transfer record again in June 1960 with the £13,000 purchase of 19-year-old winger Lewis from Sheffield United. He stayed with the Reds for three years, making 81 league appearances and hitting an impressive 44 goals. He held the transfer record for just two months.
Gordon Milne- £16,000
Gordon Milne was Liverpool's next transfer record holder, joining [Bill Shankley]]'s Reds as a 23-year-old in August 1960 from Preston North End. A midfielder, Milne played a key role in Shankly's 'Red Revolution,' making 236 league appearances and scoring 17 goals in a seven year career. He held the transfer record for just shy of a year.
Ian St John- £37,500
22-year-old Ian St John joined Liverpool from Scottish club Motherwell in a deal worth £37,500 on 2 May 1961. Also a centre forward, St John scored 118 goals in 425 games for Liverpool as he helped spearhead Bill Shankly's Anfield revolution. St John held the transfer record at Anfield for two years.
Peter Thompson- £40,000
Peter Thompson joined Liverpool as a 20-year-old in August 1963 from Preston North End. An outside left, Thompson would play for Liverpool for 10 years, making 322 appearances and hitting 41 goals before leaving for Bolton Wanderers. He held the transfer record for three-and-a-half years.
Emlyn Hughes- £65,000
19-year-old Centre back Emlyn Hughes was signed on 27 February 1967 from Blackpool for a fee of £65,000. Hughes would go on to stay with Liverpool until 1979, racking up 665 competitive appearances and captaining the team for much of that time. Hughes held the Liverpool transfer record for only five months.
Tony Hateley- £96,000
Liverpool signed 26-year-old Tony Hateley from Chelsea on 5 July 1967 for £96,000, £31,000 more than the fee Liverpool had paid five months earlier for Emlyn Hughes. Centre forward Hateley's career with Liverpool was brief, lasting only two seasons before he was sold on. He did however manage 28 goals in 56 appearances- an impressive goalscoring rate of exactly 1 in 2. Hateley held the transfer record for just over a year.
Alun Evans- £100,000
In September 1968, Liverpool broke the £100,000 mark by paying this sum to Wolves for their 19-year-old striker, Alun Evans. Evans never quite lived up to his potential however, scoring 33 goals in 111 games for the Reds before being sold on. He held Liverpool's transfer record for over two years.
John Toshack- £110,000
Liverpool paid Cardiff City £110,000 for the services of 21-year-old striker John Toshack on 11 November 1970. Toshack went on to have a highly successful career with Liverpool, scoring 96 goals in 247 appearances as Liverpool embarked upon a highly successful period in their history. Toshack held the transfer record for nearly 4 years.
Ray Kennedy- £180,000
On 12 July 1974, Liverpool acquired the services of 22-year-old Ray Kennedy from Arsenal for £180,000. Also a striker, Kennedy scored 72 goals in 393 appearances for the Reds, with whom he played much of his career in a deeper midfield role. Kennedy held Liverpool's transfer record for over two years.
David Johnson- £200,000
Liverpool hit the £200,000 mark with the purchase of Ipswich Town's 24-year-old forward David Johnson for precisely that sum on 12 August 1976. Johnson took some time settling into life with the Reds, however he did eventually forge a fruitful partnership with Kenny Dalglish, and ended his Liverpool career with stats of 78 goals in 213 games. Johnson was Liverpool's record signing for almost a year to the day.
Kenny Dalglish- £440,000
Future Liverpool icon Kenny Dalglish became Liverpool's record signing on 10 August 1977 when he joined from Celtic for £440,000 as a 26-year-old. Dalglish went on to make 515 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 172 goals and is widely regarded as the finest player the club has ever seen. He would also be appointed manager on two separate occassions. Dalglish held the transfer record for nearly four years.
Craig Johnston- £575,000
Dalglish's transfer record was broken in April 1981 with the purchase of Middlesbrough's 20-year-old South African-born Australian midfielder Johnston. This made Johnston the first foreign record holder. He would stay with Liverpool for seven years, making 190 appearances and scoring 30 goals. He held the transfer record for only four months.
Mark Lawrenson- £900,000
The transfer record was broken again in August 1981 with the purchase of 24-year-old Mark Lawrenson from Brighton for £900,000. The centre back would go on to make 356 appearances for the Reds, and held the transfer record for almost six years.
Peter Beardsley- £1,900,000
Liverpool smashed the £1,000,000 barrier with the £1,900,000 purchase of 26-year-old Peter Beardsley from Newcastle United on 14 July 1987. Beardsley made 175 appearances for the Anfield club and scored 59 goals, and formed part of a lethal attacking threesome with John Barnes and Ian Rush as Liverpool excelled in the late-1980s. Beardsley held the transfer record for one year.
Ian Rush- £2,800,000
Liverpool's next record signing was their resigning of a 26-year-old Ian Rush in August 1988 from Juventus, just a year after signing for the Italian giants. Rush played more games for Liverpool in his second spell but hit fewer goals. Nonetheless he was a key player in their last few League titles at the end of the 1980s. He held the transfer record for three years.
Dean Saunders- £2,900,000
Liverpool paid Derby County £2,900,000 for the services of Dean Saunders on 19 July 1991. Unfortunately Saunders failed to adapt to life with Liverpool, and he was sold on after making just 61 appearances, despite netting a respectable 25 goals in that time. Saunders also held the transfer record for three years.
Phil Babb- £3,600,000
Liverpool signed 23-year-old Irish centre back Phil Babb in September 1994 from Coventry City for £3,600,000. Babb played for Liverpool for six years, making 128 league appearances before moving abroad to play for Sporting Lisbon. Babb held the transfer record for one year.
Stan Collymore- £8,500,000
Liverpool made the British record signing of 24-year-old Stan Collymore for £8,500,000 on 1 July 1995 from Nottingham Forest. Collymore forged a famous partnership with Robbie Fowler and hit 35 goals in 81 appearances during his Liverpool career. Collymore held Liverpool's transfer record for nearly five years.
Emile Heskey- £11,000,000
Heskey broke Liverpool's transfer record when he put pen-to-paper on a deal worth £11,000,000 on 10 March 2000 when he transferred from Leicester City. Heskey started his career in prolific form up front before being deployed deeper in midfield in later seasons. He finished his career at Anfield with 60 goals in 223 appearances. Heskey held Liverpool's transfer record for over four years.
Djibril Cisse- £14,500,000
Gerard Houllier's final signing as manager of Liverpool was the £14,500,000 purchase of 22-year-old French forward, Djibril Cisse from Auxerre on 1 July 2004. Cisse was the first non-English speaking player to hold Liverpool's record transfer fee. His career at Anfield never hit the heights many hoped, however he did manage 24 goals in 79 appearances for the club. Cisse held Liverpool's transfer record for three years.
Fernando Torres- £20,200,000
23-year-old Spaniard Fernando Torres became Liverpool's record signing on 4 July 2007 when he joined from Atletico Madrid in a £20,200,000 deal. Torres had a highly successful three and a half years at Liverpool, scoring 81 goals in 142 games, and reaching 50 league goals for Liverpool faster than any other player in the club's history in the process. After holding the transfer record throughout his three-and-a-half year stay, Torres went on to hold Liverpool's record transfer sale, after joining Chelsea for £50,000,000 on 31 January 2011.
Luis Suarez- £22,800,000
Liverpool signed 24-year-old Uruguayan Luis Suarez from Ajax on 31 January 2011 for a fee of £22,800,000. Suarez' Liverpool career was relatively brief, however he quickly endeared himself to the Reds faithful as one of the most skillful players to have ever donned the Liverpool shirt. He departed on 16 July 2014 for a club record £75,000,000 fee to Spanish giants Barcelona, with a reputation as one of the greatest players in Liverpool's history. He held the transfer record for only a matter of hours- easily being the shortest record holder in Liverpool history.
Andy Carroll- £35,000,000
Andy Carroll was for £35,000,000 from Newcastle United on 31 January 2011 at 22-years-old, making him the most expensive English player of all time at that time. He is the third signing Liverpool have made from Newcastle to have held the distinction of being Liverpool's record purchase, following in the footsteps of Albert Stubbins and Peter Beardsley. Unfortunately, Andy Carroll's Liverpool career proved to be a spectacular failure, especially considering the vast sums of money invested in the player. He netted 11 goals in 58 games before moving to West Ham on a season-long loan in 2012, eventually making the move permanent for a fee of £15,500,000 in 2013.
Mohamed Salah- £36,900,000
25-year-old Mohamed Salah signed for Liverpool for £36,900,000 from top Italian side, AS Roma on 22 June 2017. Salah's record lasted just six months, before another signing took the mantle.
Virgil van Dijk- £75,000,000
Despite a £51,000,000 deal having being agreed to sign RB Leipzig's Naby Keita shortly after the signing of Salah, the deal would not go through until July 2018, so he never officially became Liverpool's record signing. Instead, the Keita deal was eclipsed by the £75,000,000 fee- a world record for a defender- paid to Southampton to sign their captain, Virgil van Dijk, on 1 January 2018.