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From the Manzanares to the Mersey – The Spaniard who conquered Liverpool
- Updated: 27 June, 2012
With Liverpool linked to Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata in sections of the Spanish press last week, memories of the stunning impact the young Fernando Torres had at Anfield will surely have not been far from the minds of many fans.
Then-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez paid Atletico Madrid a reported £20 million to bring Torres to Merseyside in 2007 and el Niño went on to score 65 goals in 102 successful games for the Reds.
Prior to Torres arriving however, another Spaniard had already made himself a favourite on the Kop and he would also prove to be key in the deal that brought the Atletico star to Liverpool.
Luis Garcia was a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, part of the same generation that spawned the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol, however he never truly established himself at the Catalan giants.
Garcia was sold to Atletico Madrid in 2002 but was brought back to the Camp Nou less than 12 months later following a highly successful season in the capital, however he again struggled to make an impact and a more permanent departure was soon arranged.
The Badalona-born winger would move to Liverpool for a modest £2 million in 2004 as part of former Valencia coach Rafa Benitez’s Spanish Revolution at Anfield. Few players from the country had made it in the Premier League, yet despite being signed as cover for the first team, Luis Garcia seemed to flourish in his new surroundings.
Able to play wide or centrally, Garcia was a constant menace to defences in England. His silky skills twinned with an unflinching confidence in his ability to beat players made him a fan favourite – he also had a great finish which further helped endear him to the Anfield faithful.
The 2005 UEFA Champions League campaign saw some wonderful performances from the player and a stunning 25 yard half volley which beat Gianluigi Buffon in the quarter final was arguably Garcia’s greatest goal in a Liverpool shirt.
By 2008 however, Garcia appeared to be surplus to requirements and he returned to Atletico in a move that coincided with arguably the biggest Spanish export of recent times Fernando Torres, who went the other way to Merseyside.
His return to Spain was a subdued affair however and he was used sparingly back at the Vicente Caldron – at age 29 he struggled to recapture his early form and had limited impact on the first team. After falling out of favour he again moved, first to Racing Santander and then to Greek outfit Panathinaikos.
The Barcelona-born player returned to the Camp Nou in 2010 as a Panathinaikos player, and also played at Anfield for Atletico Madrid – an odd quirk that a player should be signed twice by the same clubs, Atletico and Barcelona, as well as going on to play at both of his former teams while at another club.
Currently plying his trade for Mexican side Puebla FC, Garcia scored an impressive 17 goals in 33 games for the Primera Division side last season, as he looks to end his career in style.
The 34-year-old is still held in high regard by Liverpool fans and the player has spoken many times of the memories he has from his time on Merseyside.
With 18 caps to his name he never really made an impact on the international stage, however Luis Garcia was one of the first Spaniards to make it in the Premier League and paved the way for the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata and of course the man who replaced him, Fernando Torres.Follow @icentrocampista