Rating the 10 players to play for Liverpool and Leeds in the Premier League

Leeds United make their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence this weekend and face a daunting opening fixture against reigning champions Liverpool, the two sides having once competed alongside each other towards the top of the division.

Ahead of what looks like a fascinating clash at Anfield this evening, we’ve decided to look back at and assess the players to have represented both clubs since the inception of the Premier League in the early nineties.

Here are our ratings of the 10 players to play for Liverpool and Leeds in the Premier League era:

Ian Rush

The greatest goalscorer in Liverpool’s long and illustrious history, Ian Rush is a player who needs little introduction given his goalscoring achievements on the red half of Merseyside.

Rush scored 346 goals in all competitions across two spells with the Reds, winning five league titles and two European cups either side of an ill-fated venture to Italian football with Juventus.

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The Welshman’s peak years came before the formation of the Premier League, however, and that impacts his score in our ratings, though he did manage 45 league goals over four seasons before leaving Anfield for a second time.

That move saw Rush join Leeds but he struggled to make an impression during the latter stages of a phenomenal career, scoring a paltry three goals during his single season spell at Elland Road before joining Newcastle.

Rating: 6/10

Dominic Matteo

The versatile Matteo signed for Liverpool as an 11-year-old after being spotted by Kenny Dalglish, rising through the ranks to become a member of the first-team squad but struggled to nail down a position in the side.

Despite failing to find his best position for much of his time on Merseyside, Matteo made 155 appearances in all competitions and it came as a surprise when he was sold to Leeds shortly after the turn of the millennium following his best season in Liverpool red.

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The move proved a positive one for the six-time Scotland international, however, Matteo playing an important role in Leeds’ run to the Champions League semi-finals during his debut season and establishing himself at the heart of the club’s defence in partnerships with both Lucas Radebe and Rio Ferdinand.

He was handed the captaincy following Ferdinand’s departure to Manchester United and spent four seasons with Leeds, enjoying the best football of his career at Elland Road.

Rating: 5/10

Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler burst onto the scene as one of the Premier League’s most exciting teenage talents in the early nineties, scoring prolifically for Liverpool to be named as the PFA Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.

Fowler had long been regarded as a future star but few would have anticipated his immediate impact, the forward incredibly scoring 80 goals in 135 games for Liverpool before being handed his international debut.

No player has ever scored more than Fowler’s 55 Premier League goals before his 21st birthday, the fans’ favourite affectionately nicknamed ‘God’ by Reds supporters regarded as one of the most natural finishers the division has seen.

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Injuries decimated his later years, however, and after hitting 30+ goals in three consecutive years he never reached more than 20 after turning 23, the emergence of Michael Owen and signing of Emile Heskey leading to increased competition at Liverpool despite playing his part in a FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble in 2001.

Fowler left for Leeds shortly after that triumphant season and scored 14 goals in 33 appearances before joining Manchester City, later returning for a short second spell at Liverpool and finishing his Reds career with 183 goals in all competitions.

Rating: 9/10

Gary McAllister

Amongst the very few players on this list who remain a firm fans’ favourite in the eyes of both supporters, McAllister was part of the Leeds side crowned champions in the final pre-Premier League season before exerting his touch of class on the Whites during the early years of the rebranded division.

He was named as the club’s Player of the Year during the 1993/94 campaign before surprisingly moving on to Coventry City for £3m in 1996, a significant fee for a 31-year-old midfielder at that time.

McAllister spent four years with the Sky Blues before earning a surprise move to Liverpool in 2000, eyebrows certainly raised on Merseyside at Gerard Houllier’s capture of the 35-year-old veteran Scot.

It proved an inspired move and stands as one of the great free transfer acquisitions of the Premier League era, McAllister a wonderful influence on a youthful squad and providing much needed experience during a phenomenal 2000/01 season.

McAllister was amongst Liverpool’s key performers during that aforementioned cup treble, scoring vital goals throughout the season including a UEFA Cup semi-final winner against Barcelona and a stoppage-time stunner in the Merseyside derby.

He spent just two seasons with the Reds and scored nine goals in 87 appearances, but remains a much loved figure after leaving an indelible mark on the club’s modern history.

Rating: 8/10

Nick Barmby

Barmby emerged as a bright young prospect at Tottenham during the early seasons of the Premier League, before moving on to the likes of Middlesbrough and Everton, the latter signing the winger in a club-record deal in 1996.

After four seasons at Goodison Park, the England international became the first player since 1959 to directly move from Everton to Liverpool, crossing the Merseyside rivalry and playing his part in a cup treble during his debut campaign as the Reds won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup under Gerard Houllier.

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He fell out-of-favour during his second season and moved on to Leeds, spending two seasons with the club but struggling to command an automatic first-team place, Barmby sent on loan to Nottingham Forest before joining hometown club Hull City on a free transfer in 2004.

Rating: 5/10

Harry Kewell

Career trajectory may somewhat unfairly alter long lasting perceptions of players but Harry Kewell, for a brief spell in the late nineties and early 2000’s, once looked like a player capable of joining the world’s finest footballers.

The Australian was the jewell in an emerging crown of young talent at Leeds under David O’Leary, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award and adding a sprinkling of stardust to an exciting side that threatened English football’s elite.

Comfortable playing from the left or as a central forward, Kewell’s best was brief but brilliant as he tormented Premier League defences, scoring 55 goals in 223 appearances and establishing himself as one of the division’s finest talents.

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The winger was allowed to depart as Leeds ran into financial difficulties and his move to Liverpool was seen as huge coup by Gerard Houllier’s outfit in 2003, but despite a promising debut season that delivered 11 goals in all competitions his fortunes would falter amid a succession of setbacks.

Kewell helped Liverpool to Champions League and FA Cup success but his latter years were blighted by injuries problems, the once swashbuckling star a shadow of his former self despite flashes of his undoubted natural talents.

He scored just 12 league goals over five injury-hit seasons before a slight renaissance at Galatasaray, though he sadly never quite reached the heights once anticipated due to his fitness issues.

Rating: 7/10

Scott Carson

Scott Carson was fast-tracked into the Leeds first-team set up after joining the club as a teenage talent, the goalkeeper making three appearances in the Premier League for the Yorkshire side before their relegation to the second tier.

Six months after the club’s drop into the Championship, however, Carson signed for Liverpool in a £750,000 deal as he entered the final months of his contract at Elland Road.

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The youngster was tipped as a future England number one and arrived to provide competition for Jerzy Dudek, though he made just nine appearances in all competitions – including featuring in a quarter-final against Juventus as Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 – and spent loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton and Aston Villa before joining West Bromwich Albion on a permanent basis.

Rating: 2/10

Jermaine Pennant

Jermaine Pennant became the most expensive youth player in British football history when signing for Arsenal as a 15-year-old from Notts County, but despite scoring a hat-trick on his Premier League bow never delivered on his early promise.

During his time with the Gunners he was loaned to Leeds, though despite earning a regular first-team place he was unable to prevent the club’s relegation to the Championship in 2003/04.

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Despite a questionable attitude he rebuilt his career at Birmingham City and earned a surprise move to join Liverpool as Rafael Benitez gambled on a talented but rebellious player, and Pennant initially enjoyed some success after moving to Merseyside.

He spent three seasons with the club and was the Reds best performer during their Champions League final defeat to AC Milan in 2007, before falling out-of-favour and joining Portsmouth on loan.

Rating: 4/10

Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane had burst onto the scene with Wolves and later Coventry before a difficult spell at Inter Milan, returning to the Premier League to join a Leeds side packed with emerging talent and looking to win major honours under compatriot David O’Leary.

Keane initially signed on loan and enjoyed an immediate impact, scoring nine goals in just 18 league appearances to earn a £12m permanent move to Elland Road.

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The Irishman’s second season proved less successful, however, as he battled the likes of Mark Viduka, Alan Smith and Robbie Fowler for a starting spot, scoring just nine goals in all competitions before joining the club’s mass exodus amid financial concerns and signing for Tottenham.

Keane played the best football of his career at Spurs before completing a boyhood dream by signing for Liverpool in a £19m deal, though it proved a hugely disappointing spell as he lasted just six months at Anfield.

The forward struggled to find his role in Rafael Benitez’s side and scored just five league goals, returning to former side Spurs in the winter window at a significant loss.

Rating: 6/10

James Milner

The boyhood Leeds fan made his debut for the side at just 16-years-old before becoming the youngest ever goalscorer in Premier League history, the youngster earning plaudits for his mature performances after breaking into the first-team.

Financial difficulties and Leeds’ relegation ultimately saw the promising talent leave after just 48 Premier League appearances, joining Newcastle before later spells at Aston Villa and Manchester City, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award and two league titles amongst his honours.

Milner’s versatility has often been to his detriment in terms of securing a regular role, however, and he chose to leave City despite the club’s success in search of opportunities in a central midfield position.

The former England international signed for Liverpool on a free transfer and has proven one of the club’s greatest pieces of business of the modern era, playing a hugely influential role as an experienced figure in a side that has lifted the Champions League and Premier League over the past two seasons.

Milner has again filled a variety of roles and conducts his business with trademark minimal fuss, a fine servant to both clubs and a player who will forever be regarded as one of the division’s greatest utility men.

Rating: 8/10

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