What happened to the Liverpool signing Houllier dubbed ‘the new Zidane’ in 2002

Cast your mind back to the summer of 2002.

Gerard Houllier had just guided Liverpool to a second place finish in the Premier League, and was harbouring thoughts that his side could lift the title in the 2002/2003 season.

However, the Frenchman knew that in order to do so, he had to strengthen his side with the best possible players.

And in an attempt to do so, he managed to bring in a trio of arrivals that summer: Salif Diao, El-Hadji-Diouf and Bruno Cheyrou.

Although there were high hopes for all, expectations for Cheyrou were undoubtedly higher than the other two. Houllier even dubbed him ‘the new Zidane’ after completing the £4.5 million deal from Lille.

“Bruno has got great skill, good vision and an eye for the pass,” Houllier said. “I don’t make comparisons with Zidane lightly and I believe he can become an important player for Liverpool.

“Bruno has the same kind of touch and style that Zidane has. There’s a lot of similarities between the two when they’re on the ball.”

CHEYROU DID NOT FARE WELL AT LIVERPOOL
After impressing in the first few games after arriving, the Frenchman never pushed on and struggled to establish himself as a first team regular.

His first season in Liverpool brought about 29 appearances in all competitions, with just one goal.

Unfortunately for the Reds, Diouf and Diao also struggled in their debut seasons, meaning Liverpool ended up finishing the Premier League season in 5th with 64 points; 16 points less than what they managed the previous campaign.

And Cheyrou could not push on in the 2003/2004 season, either.

The Frenchman did manage to score four goals that campaign, but after making just 19 appearances across the whole season, it was clear his time at Liverpool was up.

RAFA BENITEZ’S ARRIVAL SPELT THE END OF HIS LIVERPOOL CAREER
Houllier was sacked at the end of the 2003/2004 season and was replaced by Rafa Benitez as Liverpool boss, effectively ending Cheyrou’s career on Merseyside.

Cheyrou spent the next two seasons on loan in Ligue 1 at Marseille and Bordeaux, having no real success at either club.

He was finally let go by Liverpool in 2006, joining Rennes. After struggling initially at his new club, he did manage to find his feet and became an important player for the Ligue 1 outfit.

Cheyrou ended up making 107 league appearances for Les Rouges et Noirs, scoring 14 times, before being let go in 2009.

He then had a short spell in Cyprus with Anorthosis, before ending his career with FC Nantes in 2012, at the age of 34.

It’s fair to say he did not quite emulate the career of French legend Zidane, as Houllier expected him to.

Not one of your finest predictions, Gerard.