Where are the Liverpool & Villarreal players now from 2015-16 EL semi?
Liverpool face Villarreal in the Champions League in their first meeting since the 2015-16 Europa League… only two of Jurgen Klopp’s XI remain, while the Spaniards have an ex-Red in their ranks, but where are the rest of the players now?
- Liverpool face Villarreal in their Champions League semi first leg on Wednesday
- It’s the first time the two sides have met in Europe since the 2015-16 season
- Liverpool prevailed 3-1 on aggregate to win that Europa League semi-final clash
Liverpool’s quadruple quest continues on Wednesday night when they host Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
The meeting at Anfield won’t be the first between the sides, with the pair having faced each other previously in European competition.
That came during the 2015-16 season when the duo met in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
After losing the first leg 1-0 in Spain, Liverpool overturned the deficit to triumph 3-0 in the return encounter on Merseyside to prevail as 3-1 winners on aggregate.
But what’s happened to those players on both sides six years on? Sportsmail takes a look.
Daniel Sturridge (right) was on target as Liverpool beat Villarreal in their last meeting in 2016
Liverpool players celebrate during their win over Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals
GOALKEEPER: SIMON MIGNOLET
The Belgium international was in his third season at Liverpool when they faced Villarreal and spent another three years at Merseyside. However, this was his last true season as the club’s definitive No 1 as the following term saw Jurgen Klopp sign Loris Karius and then Alisson Becker in 2018.
After being reduced to a back-up goalkeeper under Alisson, Mignolet left to join Club Brugge in August 2019 – where he remains.
Simon Mignolet (right) is back in Belgium playing for Club Brugge after leaving Liverpool
RIGHT BACK: NATHANIEL CLYNE
Was his first season at the Reds and made 52 appearances in all competitions that term. He made 41 in 2016-17 but then a pre-season back injury in 2017-18 curtailed him to just five games in his third campaign. An anterior cruciate ligament knee injury in July 2019 ruled him out for that entire 2019-20 campaign too.
Now at former club Crystal Palace, having made 15 appearances this season so far.
Nathaniel Clyne (left) is at Crystal Palace now – making 15 appearances this season so far
CENTRE BACK: DEJAN LOVREN
Spent six years at Anfield before leaving in the summer of 2020 – winning the Champions League and Premier League during his last two years there.
Left Liverpool for Zenit St Petersburg helping them win the Russian Premier League in his first term there.
Dejan Lovren left Liverpool in the summer of 2020 to join Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg
CENTRE BACK: KOLO TOURE
This proved to be the Ivorian’s final season at Liverpool as he was released by Klopp that summer. He played for one more season at Celtic, winning the Scottish title, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.
After hanging up his boots he joined Celtic’s backroom staff and then followed Brendan Rodgers to Leicester City where he is first-team coach.
Since retiring from football, Kolo Toure is now a coach – currently working at Leicester City
LEFT BACK: ALBERTO MORENO
The Spaniard lost his place in the Liverpool side to Andrew Robertson during the 2017-18 season. He stayed for a further 12 months before leaving for Villarreal in 2019 after being released.
It’ll be the 29-year-old’s first game back at Anfield since leaving, after he swapped sides.
Alberto Moreno (left) will hope to keep Liverpool’s attackers at bay now playing for Villarreal
RIGHT MIDFIELD: ADAM LALLANA
The scorer of the Reds’ third goal in their semi-final win over Villarreal, that was arguably the peak of Lallana’s Liverpool career before injuries took its toll.
He left Liverpool in the summer of 2020, helping them win the Premier League, and is now at Brighton having regained his fitness.
Adam Lallana (centre) scored Liverpool’s third goal against Villarreal to seal their victory
CENTRE MIDFIELD: EMRE CAN
Showed incredible heart and determination to be fit for the Villarreal clash, having ruptured his ankle ligaments against Borussia Dortmund in the previous stage.
Left Liverpool on a free transfer in July 2018, joining Juventus. Now at Dortmund having joined from Juve in January 2020.
Emre Can (right) is back playing in his homeland in Germany with Borussia Dortmund
CENTRE MIDFIELD: JAMES MILNER
Only one of two players in the Liverpool XI that is still at the club.
Now 36, Milner is still playing a role with Klopp’s squad – having featured 34 times in all competitions this season.
James Milner (right) looks to fire up the Anfield crowd during that Europa League semi-final
LEFT MIDFIELD: PHILIPPE COUTINHO
Liverpool’s talisman it appeared his departure for Barcelona would be a crushing blow to the club in 2018. However, they only improved as the Reds used that money to sign world-class duo Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.
After a disappointing period at Barca, Coutinho is back in the Premier League having signed for Aston Villa on loan in January.
Phillipe Coutinho (right) is back playing in the Premier League – currently on loan at Aston Villa
ATTACKING MIDFIELD: ROBERTO FIRMINO
The other player, alongside Milner, to still be part of the rampant Reds. Roberto Firmino will go down as a Liverpool legend and is an integral part of their frontline alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Has played a lesser role this season, due to the form of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, but expect him to feature over the two legs against Villarreal.
Roberto Firmino (right) is the other player to still be at Liverpool, alongside Milner, since 2016
STRIKER: DANIEL STURRIDGE
Turned the tie six years ago on its head with his 63rd-minute finish to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead on aggregate. He also scored the opening goal of the Europa League final, in an eventual 3–1 loss to Sevilla.
Lost his place up front to Firmino the following season and played a bit-part role in the following seasons before his release in July 2019.
After an ill-fated spell at Turkish club Trabzonspor, the now 32-year-old is enduring a similar fate at Australian outfit Perth Glory with the striker set to be released at the end of the season.
Daniel Sturridge’s (left) high-profile move to Australian side Perth Glory hasn’t worked out
GOALKEEPER: ALPHONSE AREOLA
Was on a season-long loan at Villarreal from Paris Saint-Germain, making 37 appearances in total for the club.
No stranger to Liverpool, Areola is currently in the Premier League – having joined West Ham on loan this term from PSG. This temporary move comes off spending the entire of 2020-21 at Fulham in England’s top flight.
Alphonse Areola is on loan at West Ham this season from French giants Paris Saint-Germain
RIGHT BACK: MARIO GASPAR
Mr Villarreal, the 31-year-old has spent his entire career with the Spanish outfit – having made 422 appearances for the club.
Despite his longevity, he’s now third-choice right back at the club behind ex-Tottenham duo Juan Foyth and Serge Aurier.
Mario Gaspar has made 422 appearances for Villarreal but is now their third-choice right back
CENTRE BACK: MATEO MUSACCHIO
The centre back’s seven years at El Madrigal saw him eventually become Villarreal captain and making a total of 249 appearances and scoring seven goals.
He left in May 2017 for AC Milan and later joined Lazio but is currently a free agent following his release by the latter.
Mateo Musacchio is currently a free agent after being released by Lazio earlier this season
CENTRE BACK: VICTOR RUIZ
Was sent off for two yellow cards during the Europa League semi-final second leg at Liverpool.
After leaving Villarreal in August 2019 for Besiktas, the centre back is now at Real Betis – having joined in the summer of 2020.
Victor Ruiz (centre) was sent off during Villarreal’s defeat at Liverpool to compound their night
The centre back trudges off the pitch after receiving his second yellow card in the second leg
LEFT BACK: JAUME COSTA
Another long-term fixture within the Villarreal squad, the left back ended his nine-year stay with the club last summer. Now 34, the defender is at Mallorca.
Left back Jaume Costa (right) is now at Mallorca after leaving Villarreal last summer
RIGHT MIDFIELD: JONATHAN DOS SANTOS
Joined Villarreal in 2014 to play with his older brother and did for a season. Spent another three campaigns in Spain before leaving for LA Galaxy and reuniting with his sibling.
Left the MLS outfit in December 2021 to join Club America on a free transfer.
Jonathan dos Santos (left) is playing for Mexican side Club America having joined in December
CENTRE MIDFIELD: TOMAS PINA
This was the final of his three seasons at Villarreal before he joined Club Brugge.
Now 34, he’s currently back in Spain at LaLiga side Alaves.
Ex-Villarreal midfielder Tomas Pina (left) is currently playing for LaLiga outfit Alaves
CENTRE MIDFIELD: BRUNO SORIANO
Along with Mario Gaspar, Bruno Soriano bleeds yellow. A one-club man, the Villarreal legend ended his 14-season playing career with the Yellow Submarine at the end of the 2019-20 term to retire. He made 425 appearances for the club during that.
However, he won’t have fond memories of playing Liverpool, having scored an early own goal in the second leg to cancel out his side’s 1-0 advantage from the first tie.
Villarreal legend Bruno Soriano (second left) scored an own goal to level things on aggregate
LEFT MIDFIELD: DENIS SUAREZ
Remember him? One of three Villarreal players within this side to also play in the Premier League. This was the winger’s sole season at El Madrigal before Barcelona snapped him up.
His three years at Barcelona included a short loan at Arsenal in January 2019 until the end of the season. That summer he returned to Celta Vigo, where he spent his youth, where he remains.
Denis Suarez (left) is back at Celta Vigo after a career including spells at Barcelona and Arsenal
STRIKER: ROBERTO SOLDADO
Along with Alphonse Areola and Denis Suarez, Roberto Soldado completes the hat-trick of Villarreal players to play in the Premier League.
The 2015-16 campaign was his first at Villarreal having left Tottenham in the summer of 2015. He spent two years at the Spanish side before joining Fenerbahce. He’s returned to Spain since – first with Granada and now Levante.
Roberto Soldado is now at Levante as the striker comes towards the end of his career
STRIKER: CEDRIC BAKAMBU
Like Soldado, this was the striker’s first campaign at Villarreal. The DR Congo international spent two-and-a-half years in Spain before joining Chinese side Beijing Guoan.
Back playing in Europe now, having signed for French club Marseille June 30, 2024 in January.
Cedric Bakambu (centre) is back playing in Europe for Marseille after having a spell in China
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