Where are they now? The forgotten former Liverpool prodigies you didn’t know were still playing

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By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke

Amid the heights the current Liverpool side are scaling – like reaching the Champions League final in the last campaign and challenging for the Premier League title this season – it’s easy to forget the less successful years gone by.

In those years, many players were predicted to reach the top in red – in this piece, we will be tracking the careers of former prodigies who have fallen into the wilderness and where they are currently plying their trade.

Frode Kippe

Right, kids, we’re going back a long long way here – all the way back to before the turn of the millennium.

Whilst you may not have heard of the Norwegian centre back, he was part of the large Scandinavian invasion that found themselves at Anfield in the 90’s, along with players such as John Arne Riise, Vegard Heggem, Stig Inge Bjornebye and many more.

Kippe made only two appearances for the Reds in cup competitions over a two season stint after joining in 1998, before he was loaned out to Stoke City.

The giant Nord spent a further two seasons at the Potters before he returned to his homeland with Lillestrom – where he has remained since 2002. He has racked up over 400 appearances with the Eliteserien outfit, and is still going strong at the grand old age of 41.

Anthony Le Tallec

The Frenchman arrived at Anfield in 2001 from Le Havre, before being loaned back to his parent side until 2003.

Le Tallec was part of yet another international contingent that found themselves at Liverpool, much like the Norwegians – with compatriots Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Bruno Cheyrou also arriving around this time under the management of Gerard Houllier.

Le Tallec never realised his potential at Anfield, and he eventually found himself out on loan five times as he struggled to impress elsewhere.

He eventually joined Le Mans in 2008 and stayed in France until a spell in Greece with Atromitos in 2015 and then Romania with Astra Giurgiu in 2017. The now 34 year-old is currently plying his trade with US Orleans in French Ligue 2 in the twilight of an underwhelming career.

Mark Gonzalez

The exciting Chilean joined Liverpool from Spanish side Albacete in 2006, renowned for his searing pace and skills on the wing.

His arrival was intended to build on a strong Liverpool spine including Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Xabi Alonso.

However, he failed to make his mark at Anfield and found himself out the back door – moving permanently to Real Betis in 2007.

Gonzalez has enjoyed half decent spells in Spain and Russia with CSKA Moscow before he eventually moved back to Chile in 2014 with Universidad Catolica.

He is now currently plying his trade with Deportes Magallanes in the Chilean second tier.

Gabriel Paletta

Arriving at Anfield from Banfield of Argentina in 2006, the young centre back was purchased with a view of potentially succeeding Sami Hyypia in the first team. However, Paletta would only go on to make three Premier League appearances for the Reds, proving he was no match for the Finnish hero.

He has had better luck outside of England at least, where the now 33 year-old found himself in the Serie A playing for Parma, AC Milan and Atalanta – even going so far as to switch allegiance to the Italy national team, for whom he has three caps.

He is currently playing in the Chinese Super League for Jiangsu Suning – playing alongside former Chelsea man Ramires and former Liverpool target Alex Teixeira.

Charles Itandje

The less said about Charles Itandje, the better. The shamed French goalkeeper became involved in a storm whilst serving as Pepe Reina’s deputy, when he was caught laughing at a Hillsborough memorial service in 2009.

As a result, Itandje never played again for Liverpool and was moved on permanently to Atromitos in 2010.

He is currently playing for semi-professional outfit FC Versailles 78 after spells in Turkey.

Nabil El Zhar

A skillful Moroccan who made waves in the Liverpool youth teams in 2006, El Zhar found himself permanently on the fringes of the first team up until 2010. The Moroccan scored a superb goal against Cardiff in 2007, which could have kicked off his Liverpool career – however, it wasn’t to be.

El Zhar departed Anfield permanently in 2011 for Spanish outfit Levante, where he has carved out a decent career for himself in the lower end of La Liga – also turning out for Las Palmas and currently Leganes, where the now 32 year-old remains.

Diego Cavalieri

Another backup goalkeeper for Liverpool, the Brazilian was one of many who deputised for the brilliant Pepe Reina. Arriving from Palmeiras in 2008, Cavalieri never made a Premier League appearance for the Reds, and found himself out the door to Italian side Cesena, where again he didn’t make a league appearance.

Cavalieri returned Brazil in 2010 with Fluminese, where he made over 200 league appearances before a strange move to Crystal Palace in 2018. The now 36 year-old is back in his homeland playing for Botafogo.

David Ngog

Ah yes, the infamous deputy to Fernando Torres. The gulf in class between the two was less of a step down from Torres to Ngog, but more akin to falling off a cliff.

Signed in 2008 from PSG, the Frenchman racked up 94 appearances for the Reds, scoring 19 goals. Ngog finally departed Anfield in 2011 for Bolton Wanderers.

After less than prolific stints back in France, Greece and Scotland, the 30 year-old Ngog is now plying his trade in Hungary with Budapest Honved. A fall from grace indeed.

Dani Pacheco

How the hopes were high for the diminutive Spaniard. An exciting poacher on the fringes of the first team during Liverpool’s darkest period under Roy Hodgson, fans clamoured to see Pacheco in the first team after becoming tired of a misfiring front line.

Like many before him, Pacheco never realised his potential in red and eventually departed for Alcorcon in 2013. Whilst going under the radar, Pacheco has found himself currently playing for Malaga in La Liga at the age of 28 – after spells at Getafe, Real Betis and Alaves.

Honourable mention

Maxi Rodriguez

Like Benayoun, the fact that the Argentine is still playing football may come as a shock to you. Maxi became a cult hero amongst Liverpool fans, and left with all the goodwill in the world as he departed to his boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys. Following a stint at Uruguayan side Penarol, the 38 year-old Maxi is back in Argentina with Newell’s, where he will likely end his career.

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