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How defenders’ transfer fees rocketed in quest for success | Ed Aarons

Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid £7.1m for two centre-halves in 1994. This week they were ready to shell out £60m on Virgil van Dijk and the record fee for a defender looks set to be smashed this summer

“I was in demand,” remembered Phil Babb. “I was on holiday and every other day I was reading the papers and I was going here, there and everywhere.”

Back in 1994, the player who was once rejected by his local club Millwall appeared to have the world at his feet. Fresh from his exploits for Republic of Ireland at the World Cup in the United States, Babb joined Liverpool on 1 September for £3.6m – a then British record fee for a defender. The very next day he was joined at Anfield by Wimbledon’s John Scales for £3.5m as Roy Evans set about attempting to transform the fortunes of a team who had conceded 55 goals in finishing eighth the previous season.

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