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I know I skipped quite a few position up the ladder but I better open this topic before the inevitable departure happens.
Same as before, anything goes.....

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Jari Litmanen - Liverpool

Position: Forward
Date of birth: Saturday 20th February 1971
Age: 31 yrs
Height: 1.81m
Weight: 83kg
Signed from: Barcelona

Litmanen was the first Finn to play in Spain's Primera. Many clubs jostled for his signature when it became clear that he would not be signing a new contract with Ajax but the only one he wanted to join was Barcelona.

Since he cost the Catalans nothing, it was understood that he was the highest paid player at the Nou Camp, on around £2.5 million a year. However, because of the Ajax connection, it was with some scepticism that the fans viewed his arrival – and the fact he was injured for several months after his transfer did not help.

Furthermore, Litmanen initially replaced fans' favourite Luis Enrique in the team. He was brought in as part of the Louis van Gaal project, a player who understood his master's plan perfectly.

Once the Dutchman quit in the summer of 2000, though, new boss Lorenzo Serra Ferrer dumped Litmanen on the transfer list. In August 2000, the Finn, who finished third in the European Player of the Year vote in 1995, was confident of finding another club. "I think around 20 clubs have already shown interest in me," he said. Bayer Leverkusen, Porto, Benfica, Everton, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Anderlecht and Galatasaray were all linked with him.

Litmanen eventually signed for Liverpool in January 2001 on a free transfer - a move exclusively revealed by onefootball.com.

The Finn joined Ajax in 1992 and enjoyed his best footballing years in Amsterdam. Several Dutch championships were crowned by the 1995 Champions' League triumph over Milan, in which Litmanen played but was substituted in the 65th minute. Patrick Kluivert, who came on for Litmanen, scored the winner in the 85th minute.

His spell at Liverpool was blighted by injuries though. A calf injury kept him out for three weeks while a broken wrist sustained in an international against England in March, kept him out for another month.

Most Famous For: Finland's all-time leading goal scorer.

He Says: "I've trained very hard and I firmly believe that I could help the team. However, the coach decides who plays and who doesn't and I've just had to adapt to it. It's a difficult situation. Usually, changes take place in situations like this but not in this case. There have been times when I've been very tired reporting for international duty, when I've been unable to give the team 100 per cent. Well, that problem has not existed lately."
- September 2000

"There is no room for me at Barcelona. There are 24 players in the squad who are individually at my level and I can play extremely well with them all. Unfortunately, there's one player – Rivaldo – to whom my place behind the forwards has been granted and I was never given a true opportunity to compete with him. I think things would have been the same even if I had been the world's second-best player."
- October 2000

They Say: "We have signed a world-class player. He comes with a reputation which needs no improvement. He is a player I'm aware this club has wanted for a long time and to get him on a free transfer is a snip." - Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, January 2001

"There is not a question you can ask Jari about Liverpool that he will not know the answer to. He knows everything about the club and is always talking about Liverpool. I've often spoken to him about the club but there was nothing I could tell him that he didn't already know. Obviously he's a quality player. He's someone who is excellent in possession of the ball, doesn't give it away and is a great team player. Jari is also a good goalscorer and I would say this could be a great signing for the club. Time will tell if that is the case. From a personal point of view, it's nice to have another Finnish international joining the squad."
- club and country team-mate Sami Hyypia, January 2001

"The way he instantly looks forward when he gets the ball has really impressed me. His performance at Villa reminded me of how Kenny (Dalglish) used to drop off a lone striker away from home."
- Ian Rush, January 2001.

"He is probably the best foreign player I have ever seen. It is a bonus that Gerard Houllier managed to get him on a free transfer. In my opinion, if Liverpool had paid £10 million for him it would not have been a waste of money. He's got so much ability and such a football brain. I am sure he will go on to be as successful in the Premiership as Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal or Gianfranco Zola at Chelsea. I think he will be handed the No 7 shirt and that he will be eventually compared to Dalglish."
- Peter Beardsley, January 2001
 

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A true great!...I was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and the official Amsterdam club shop kept playing video of the team that Jari played in .... It is obvious that he is still very much adored by the Ajax fans....his posters are still selling in the club shop!!!
 
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