English football appears to have taken a nostalgic lurch back to the 1990s. On the day that recently relegated Norwich City unveiled a garish new third shirt that paid homage to the infamous "egg and cress" kit worn during their Uefa Cup defeat of Bayern Munich, Liverpool also rolled back the years to confirm the signing of veteran goalkeeper and former Arsenal double-winner Alex Manninger.
The former Austrian international, who became a free agent this summer after the conclusion of his deal with Bundesliga outfit and Liverpool's Europa League last-32 opponents FC Augsburg, returns to the Premier League an incredible 14 years after leaving the Gunners for Espanyol. Thirty-nine-year-old Manninger's long career has also included stints with the likes of Fiorentina, Siena, Red Bull Salzburg and Juventus.
He has signed a short-term contract at Anfield and will likely become third-choice keeper behind new signing Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet, with previous deputies Danny Ward and Adam Bogdan having been loaned to Huddersfield Town and Wigan Athletic respectively.
"Honestly, it was a surprise," Manninger told the club's official website. "After these years in Italy and the last four years in Germany, I hadn't given up, I hadn't said 'that's it', I still waited for the phone call. When Liverpool was on the phone, it was a great pleasure for me to take it on because it gives me what I was looking for. This is the moment I was waiting for until the end.
"I've still got something left, for sure, but obviously it's probably not the time for me to push for the next three or four years to get a place in the goal. Because time says it's not possible to play 50 games a year. But if I'm called up, I'm definitely there for games, I will play. And I'll definitely be in the changing room every game, giving my input."
Manager Jurgen Klopp praised Manninger's "great experience" and stressed the importance of Liverpool's young stoppers gaining the necessary experience out on loan. He also revealed that a recent rule change was the key factor in his decision to recruit another goalkeeper.
"They changed the rules so we cannot bring an U21 goalkeeper back from a team in England during the season if we have a problem, so we had to make a decision – keep somebody back to protect us or bring in someone else who can give us experience. I think this is the best solution to allow others to develop. In this way, this is good for everyone and I am really happy that he comes into the group."
Manninger becomes the fifth signing made by Klopp already this summer, joining Joel Matip, Karius, Sadio Mane and former Augsburg teammate Ragnar Klavan.