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Liverpool Decided Against Signing James McCarthy Despite Remarkable Trial Goal

Liverpool Decided Against Signing James McCarthy Despite Remarkable Trial Goal
By Gary Connaughton Updated

It is easy to forget now, but there was a time when James McCarthy was one of the most sought after teenagers in world football. Having burst onto the scene at Hamilton Academical at 15-years old few youngsters were in higher regard at the time.

Barcelona were interested in him at one point, while all the big clubs in England had their eye on a deal for the then Ireland underage international. This wasn't just paper talk.

There was genuine interest in a player who made his first team debut a few days before his 16th birthday. He would go on to shine even further after Hamilton's promotion to the Scottish top flight, with Liverpool perhaps showing the strongest intent to bring the player on board.

James Pearce of The Athletic has retold the story of how McCarthy went on trial at the current European champions, even playing a friendly at the club's training ground. He would also produce an eye-catching moment while on Merseyside.

A source close to Liverpool's transfer dealings at that time told The Athletic:

James McCarthy, who was a teenager playing for Hamilton, came down to Melwood and played in a behind closed doors game.

He chipped Jerzy Dudek from 35 yards. It wasn’t much fee-wise but the club wouldn’t sanction it.

Then head of academy recruitment Malcolm Elias felt Liverpool had better players already on the books at the club.

This must have taken place before Dudek left the club in the summer of 2007. McCarthy would go on to sign for Wigan Atheltic for a fee of £1.2million in 2009.

While it can be debated just how much they missed out on this occasion, this is indicative of Liverpool's transfer failings at this time. They repeatedly whiffed on talented players due to a lack of organisation, cooperation and a refusal to pay reasonable fees.


He was not the only Ireland international mentioned in the piece. Pearce also recalls how Liverpool were keen on signing Damien Duff in the summer of 2003 but were unable to match Chelsea's bid of £17million, while the club also attempted to lure Shay Given from Aston Villa in 2013.

SEE ALSO: 'Extra-Special' Belfast Playoff Game Has Crossed James McClean's Mind

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