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Opinion

Which players have played for both Liverpool FC and Manchester United in the English Premier League?

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29th April, 2021
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We are just a couple of sleeps away from one of the most anticipated matches of the English Premier League season, Liverpool taking on Manchester United.

Before we get into banter mode, let us take a walk down memory lane (something most LFC fans did before the Klopp era and what most United fans do now.)

Liverpool and Manchester United are unarguably the two most successful English football teams. Their club rivalry runs deep into history, which makes them fierce rivals continually fighting each other for the title of being the best team in England.

History to one side, there have been numerous players who have switched one of these clubs for the other. More often than not, the transfers have not gone down well with the supporters. But in truth, there are quite a few players who have played for both Liverpool and Manchester United. If nothing, this adds to the Liverpool and Manchester United rivalry, one of the longest-running football rivalries of all time.

This match of Liverpool versus Manchester United, also known as the North-West Derby, is outright the biggest rivalry for either club. So you can only imagine what happens to the supporters when a player decides to swap Liverpool for Manchester United or vice versa.

There are only two players who played for both clubs in the Premier League era. They were Michael Owen and Paul Ince. However, neither of them switched from one club to the other directly.

When Owen shifted to Manchester United towards the end of his career, he received loads of criticism for his decision.

Michael Owen of Manchester United

Michael Owen of Manchester United in action during an FA Cup match against Liverpool in 2011. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

During his heyday at Anfield, he had cemented himself as a Kop idol. In the eight seasons he played at Liverpool, he scored 158 goals in 297 appearances. He is also one of our picks of the best strikers ever to have played for Liverpool.

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While he was playing at his best, he switched out Liverpool for Real Madrid in the 2004 season. However, that move was rough on him, and he ended up being a flop. Things became worse for him as a knee injury curtailed his contribution to England during the 2006 World Cup. As seen with many, leaving Liverpool ended up being a move that washed his career away.

After a spell at the Toon, he signed for Liverpool’s most profound arch-rivals, Manchester United, in 2009, a move that has still not allowed a lot of Liverpool fans ever to forgive him. Many have asked for his status as a Liverpool football club ambassador to be revoked because of joining Manchester United.

When he was interviewed about this multiple times, Owen maintained that he tried his best to return to Liverpool. There were talks that he even asked Jamie Carragher, Liverpool centre-back, to convince then-manager Rafael Benitez to sign him. That signing never materialised. The moment the opportunity to sign for Sir Alex Ferguson’s came up, he believed that it was the only other option to ensure he played his last few seasons at a top club.

In Simon Hughes’ Ring of Fire, Owen mentioned, “I spoke to Jamie Carragher and tried to get Rafa Benitez to do something. I wanted to try to make it right somehow. However, it became clear Rafa Benitez did not want to strike a deal. So I spoke with Sir Alex Ferguson again. He was quite positive about me. I was 29 years old. Should I have decided to retire?”

He played at Manchester United for three seasons before hanging up his boots in 2013. Liverpool fans never forgave him, saying this decision of his was an act of betrayal due to their deep-rooted rivalry. ‘Any other club rather than Manchester United or Everton’ is what most fans said when they spoke about it.

Other than Owen, Ince is the only other player to have featured for both teams in the Premier League era. Just like Owen, he also had a stint abroad which did not quite work out for him. However, he represented Manchester United before he did so for Liverpool. He spent a total of six seasons at Manchester United between 1989-95.

He then switched them for Inter Milan in the Serie A and then signed for Liverpool.

Paul Ince of Liverpool

Paul Ince of Liverpool is challenged by Mark Kinsella of Charlton Athletic during a FA Carling Premiership match. (Phil Cole/Allsport)

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The deep-rooted rivalry did not stop Liverpool from inquiring about Gabriel Heinze. These, however, were only rumours. But there was public chatter about him wanting to make the switch when he announced his desire to leave Manchester United for Liverpool. Ferguson’s refused to allow the transfer from happening, stating the rivalry between the two sides. The Argentine eventually left Manchester United and joined Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Liverpool manager at that time Benitez, did mention, “It’s clear he’s a player we like, and he’s an excellent player. That’s the reason why they don’t want him to leave for Liverpool. We made an offer which they rejected.”

There are many other players who played for both Liverpool and Manchester United before the start of the Premier League era in the year 1992.

Tom Chorlton was the first-ever player to have left Manchester United and directly sign for Liverpool. Phil Chisnall’s move from Old Trafford to Anfield is the last time that a player has switched between the two clubs.

Peter Beardsley played just one game for Manchester United in the 1982-83 season. He then joined Liverpool and became an integral figure during his four-season stint between 1987-91.

Some of the others who switched between Liverpool FC and Manchester United were:

Tom Chorlton from Liverpool to Manchester United in the year 1912

Jackie Sheldon from Manchester United to Liverpool in the year 1913

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Tom Miller from Liverpool to Manchester United in the year 1920

Fred Hopkin from Manchester United to Liverpool in the year 1921

Tommy Reid from Liverpool to Manchester United in the year 1929

Ted Savage from Liverpool to Manchester United in the year 1938

Allenby Chilton from Liverpool to Manchester United in the year 1938

Thomas McNulty from Manchester United to Liverpool in the year 1954

Phil Chisnall from Manchester United to Liverpool in the year 1964

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