Liverpool went to an awful lot of trouble to secure the signature of Christian Ziege from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2000. A year later and they were left wondering whythe hell they bothered.
It was not that Ziege was a bad player, far from it, he demonstrated on numerous occasions that his left foot was the equal of anyone in Europe and his delivery from set pices was a potent weapon. Unfortunately those attributes were nullified to his poor attitude and non-existent workrate.
He was signed to fill the problem left back spot which had been a weakness at Anfield for almost a decade. Going forward, Ziege was excellent, but defensively he often appeared clueless.
It's hard to say whether Ziege couldn't defend or just didn't want to. He was caught out of position regularly and produced a string of poor performances and costly errors, notably at Elland Road during a 4-3 defeat and also in the Czech Republic against the part-timers of Slovan Liberec.
Injury spared him of the indignity of being dropped, but whilst he was sidelined he saw Jamie Carragher make the left back berth his own with a series of outstanding performances that put the experienced Germaninternational to shame.
There was no way Ziege was going to usurp Carragher from the back four so the rest of his opportunities in the first team came on the left of midfield, although he fared little better there.
He simply would not track back and would regularly be seen standing on the half way line next to one of our strikers as we were put under pressure at the back.
Not surprisingly, Houllier was unimpressed and Ziege missed out on the run in to the treble, even seeing youngster Gregory Vignal named ahead of him on the subs bench for both the FA and UEFA Cup finals.
The writing was on the wall and his cause wasn't helped by an ill-timed outburst against his manager prior to an important European tie with Barcelona. That sealed his fate and Houllier decided he wanted rid of the German.
Despite his poor season at Anfield, there were no shortage of interested clubs, and Ziege joined Tottenham Hotspur for £5m in the summer of 2001. He remained at White Hart Lane for three years before returning to his homeland with Borussia Mönchengladbach, with whom he spent just the one year before injury ended his career at the age of 33.
Although he was a major disappointment at Anfield, it wasn't all bad. He scored from the spot in the Worthington Cup final penalty shoot out, and he set up Michael Owen's second goal in the 2-0 win in Rome, but with the undoubted talent he possessed, Ziege should have been a much bigger hit at Liverpool than he was.