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Five players who played for both Liverpool and Aston Villa

Aston Villa and Liverpool meet in the Premier League this evening, in a huge clash for the home side and their pursuit of a top-four finish.

The two teams could share the Champions League stage next season and throughout recent decades have shared some top talent, with more than 25 players having represented both clubs in the Premier League era.

Here are five of the very best.

Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey’s electric emergence at Leicester City saw leading clubs circle for the forward and it was Liverpool who won the race for his signature in 2000.

Heskey had helped Leicester to two League Cup wins after breaking into the team as a teenager and became Liverpool’s record signing in an £11m deal.

His first full season saw Heskey form a prolific partnership with Michael Owen as Liverpool won a cup treble under Gerard Houllier. He scored 22 goals in all competitions, with Owen netting 24, and proved the perfect physical foil for his teammate as the Reds won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.

Heskey was unable to replicate that goal return but remained at Liverpool until 2004, ending his time at Anfield with 60 goals in 223 appearances.

After spells with Birmingham and Wigan, he signed for Aston Villa for a fee of £3.5m. He spent four seasons at Villa Park, and earned a recall to the England squad for the 2010 World Cup, but scored just 14 times in 110 games for the club.

Iconic Duos: Heskey and Owen – Liverpool’s ‘big man, small man’ combo that inspired a cup treble

Peter Crouch

Peter Crouch’s second-tier goal record persuaded Aston Villa to sign the striker from Portsmouth, with The Villans agreeing to a £5m deal to bring the target man in from the south coast.

Crouch marked his home debut with a goal against Newcastle but struggled to nail down a regular role in the side, amid competition from Dion Dublin, Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel.

“In the first full season, it was tough. I was coming up against players like Tony Adams and Sol Campbell, and I was the same sort of height that I am now but about three stone lighter,” Crouch recalled on his time with Villa.

“I can still remember making my home debut for Villa against Newcastle, looking down the other end, seeing Alan Shearer and thinking I was a million miles away from the level that he was at. I wasn’t really ready for the top flight then, but Graham Taylor really believed in me.

“Then David O’Leary came in and didn’t fancy me at all. I went on loan to Norwich and came back brimming with confidence, but still didn’t play regularly – I had to move on.”

Crouch signed for Southampton and scored 12 league goals despite the club’s relegation in 2004-05, earning a move to reigning European champions Liverpool. Despite a stuttering start as he went 19 games without a goal, Crouch found his feet at Anfield to become a fan favourite.

He scored 42 goals in 134 games, reached a Champions League final, and won the FA Cup final in 2006, assisting a goal for Steven Gerrard in the final win over West Ham.

Noughties Nines: Peter Crouch – The genial giant

Christian Benteke

The third towering frontman to feature here, Christian Benteke also represented both Aston Villa and Liverpool in the Premier League.

Signed as an unknown quantity from Genk in 2012, Benteke made an instant impact in Claret and Blue. His debut campaign saw Benteke finish as runner-up to Gareth Bale for the PFA Young Player of the Year award after breaking Dwight Yorke’s record for most Premier League goals in a season by an Aston Villa player (19).

He netted 42 times in 89 league appearances for Villa across three seasons before Liverpool broke their transfer record to sign Benteke in a £32.5m deal.

However, one audacious overhead kick aside, he failed to make an impact at Anfield and was sold to Crystal Palace after just one season, having scored 10 times in 42 games.

James Milner

James Milner’s illustrious career has taken in stops at Aston Villa and Liverpool, signing for the former after spells with Leeds and Newcastle. Milner made 126 appearances for Aston Villa and formed part of an exciting young side under Martin O’Neil that secured consecutive top-six finishes in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

The latter of those campaigns saw Milner crowned PFA Young Player of the Year after scoring 12 times in all competitions, with Villa also reaching the League Cup final.

Milner signed for Manchester City in a £26m deal and won two league titles and two domestic cups with the Citizens, before joining Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015.

That deal proved to be inspired business as Milner represented the Reds 332 times and won a clean sweep of major honours under Jurgen Klopp. Willing to play anywhere and capable of doing so to a high standard, Milner has been a manager’s dream during his long career. Only Gareth Barry (653) has made more Premier League appearances (634).

Philippe Coutinho

The dancing feet of Philippe Coutinho had fans on the edge of their seats at Liverpool, with the Brazilian arriving from Inter Milan and becoming a household name at Anfield.

With a velvet touch and penchant for the spectacular, Coutinho evolved from a promising talent into one of the Premier League’s most exciting players in five seasons with the Reds.

He scored 54 goals in 201 games and was twice named Liverpool’s Players’ Player of the Season before Barcelona came calling with a record-breaking bid. The Spanish side spent £142m to bring Coutinho to the Camp Nou, though he struggled to settle in his new surroundings.

Despite two La Liga titles and a treble success during a loan spell at Bayern Munich, Coutinho failed to convince and was loaned to Aston Villa in January 2022.

Reunited with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, he started brilliantly in the Midlands and the deal was made permanent for £17m. However, his form failed to last and Coutinho was loaned to Qatari outfit Al-Duhail SC for the 2023-24 campaign.

Read – Aston Villa vs Liverpool – Premier League Match Preview

See more – Golazo Merchants: Brazil’s Little Magician, Philippe Coutinho

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