Michael Baddeley provides three candidates to replicate the fantastic midfield displays put on by Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso in 2008/09.
So far, Liverpool have been linked with a fair few central midfielders. Mahmoud Dahoud, Piotr Zielinski and most recently Hector Herrera are just a few to name. Despite having Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva as options to partner Emre Can, it seems like Klopp is in the market to add someone who can add something else to the midfield. To be quite honest, I agree with the decision.
Once upon a time at Liverpool we had one of the best midfields in the world. In-fact it wasn’t that long ago. Back in 2008 we had some phenomenal players. Mascherano patrolling just in-front of the back four, Alonso spraying passes all over the park with Gerrard bombing backwards and forwards, linking up with Torres and having free-roam to do what he wanted. It oozed class.
Unfortunately, Rafa Benitez let Alonso go to Real Madrid for £30 million back in 2009 and since then Liverpool have never replaced him. Funnily enough, Liverpool’s positioning in the league has dropped ever since then. Coincidence? I think not.
A top side always has a brilliant midfield that possesses a strong defensive midfielder who will do the dirty work and their partner is someone who can spray the ball around like Alonso. In modern football this is usually deployed with the playmaker being used as an attacking midfielder.
Liverpool have three players who can play their parts in this system. Emre Can could be the man to sit back and break up play, whilst Coutinho or Firmino could be the attacking option of the three. But someone to sit alongside Can and bring the composure to the side is needed.
Henderson has a mediocre range of passing but is more of an engine, Milner too is a workhorse and has been an asset in the second half of the season, Lucas is more of a combative player who will probably warm the bench for Can, then there’s Joe Allen. The Welsh Pirlo brings a little bit of composure and is probably the best passer of the ball we have, but he lacks the strength and consistency to be a first team player.
So who could Liverpool sign to help bring that composure and class needed?
Klopp and the club seem to think that Mahmoud Dahoud is that player. The most recent rumours coming from the club again suggest that Klopp still see’s the young Syrian born player as a main target.
Despite last season being his breakout season he played with maturity throughout and arguably outshone new Arsenal signing and at-the-time midfield partner Granit Xhaka.
His reading of the play means he can be used as a defensive midfielder if needed, but his passing and eye for finding space in-between the lines means he’s a real threat in an attacking sense too.
He’s so composed and clever on the ball as well. He knows when to go long to start a counter attack or relieve his team of pressure, but also knows when his side need to just protect and keep the ball in possession.
A clever, technical player, who has a great range of passing, a brilliant engine and isn’t scared to get physical if needed. Sounds like the perfect partner for our German maestro Emre Can doesn’t he.
The 18-year-old from Anderlecht would be brilliant in my opinion. In his first campaign with Anderlecht he was utilized in a deeper role but since then has been pushed forward by his manager.
His range of passing is phenomenal for a player at his age and he can play with both feet. Due to his brilliant passing ability he is also capable of sitting in front of the back four and dictating the play from deep but is best used as a box-to-box midfielder.
Being a slim, player many would expect him to get knocked off the ball easily. How wrong they would be though. His excellent technical ability means he can hold on to the ball until the right pass becomes available. His dribbling and shooting technique aren’t too shabby either.
He also posses an attribute that all Liverpool players in the past few years have lacked. Being a regular set piece taker at Anderlecht he has proved that he can also be a danger from dead ball situations.
For me the youngster posses everything the club need. He’s versatile, has a brilliant passing range which means he can dictate the pace of the game and could be key in transitioning from defence to attack, an eye for a killer ball also means that the pressure of creating chances doesn’t lie on the more attacking players and his leadership is something that Liverpool could really benefit from.
Klopp may not even have to purchase someone. New-boy Grujic could do the job. He was signed from Red Star Belgrade back in January but was sent back on loan to his boyhood side for the rest of the season.
Grujic is a tall, physical player who is rather athletic and has a good range of passing. Back home in Serbia many are labelling him the ‘new Matic’ but Serbian journalist Vlastimir Stevanovic has said that if he were to compare him to anyone then it would be our very own legend Steven Gerrard.
He is seen as a box-to-box midfielder but has the talent to be used in a number of midfield roles. His physicality means he is such a threat for opposition sides, whether that be when he’s driving forward with the ball or when stopping someone and breaking up the play.
For me he could be a brilliant partner for Emre Can and playing him would mean we could use money elsewhere. However, with the future of other midfielders in doubt we would be better of buying someone. The most likely option seems to be Dahoud, but I wouldn’t complain if Tielemans was to sign for the club.
Featured Image – Liverpool ECHO