Dave Davis explains that, for all the attacking talent in Liverpool’s team, Jürgen Klopp is the only truly world class talent at the club.
We’ve been privileged to have some unbelievable talents at Anfield in recent years who would fit into the ‘world class’ bracket. If you referenced the most enjoyable moments of football you’ve experienced over the last ten years then the likes of Gerrard, Suarez, Torres, Alonso, Fowler and a cast of top names would no doubt be involved. There’s a real belief in the current crop at Anfield, but the most important name isn’t one that plays week in, week out.
Liverpool currently have no real world-class players. It’s a statement that’s unfortunate to utter, but like any statement the more truthful it is the more it is, the more it makes you think. Coutinho will be the one that many point towards, especially on the back of his derby performance but one swallow doesn’t make a summer and the Brazilian magician hasn’t been at it since his return from injury. To even be in that bracket, ‘O Magico’ would have needed to have maintained his early season form throughout this campaign, as we’ve seen many years of the hot and cold periods.
Mané has made a huge impact for us and his absence at AFCON was hugely felt. Whilst the Senegalese wide man has been a huge success at Anfield so far, 13 goals and 8 assists is impressive but it’s not up there with the performances of those currently at the top of the game. Matip has also been a huge success, but if he could have guided a shaky back four through to more clean sheets then the argument would carry more weight. Again, absence for a different reason hasn’t helped him.
It’s impossible to know what the summer will bring, but it was shown on Saturday that even with the likes of Lallana and Henderson out, Klopp won’t deviate from that 4-3-3 model that he’s applied all season. Can had to move from his natural position and Lucas came into the line-up, despite many clamouring for a change to a 4-2-3-1. Pressing, hard running and the ability to play at pace are the key features that Klopp seems to demand, regardless of the personnel that are tasked with those requirements.
Maybe, more importantly, is the improvement in the existing personnel that appears to have taken place. Lallana isn’t even comparable to the player he was under Brendan Rogers and is in the form of his life. Henderson has looked re-born as a number six and whisper it quietly, but Dejan Lovren has been immense at certain times. Rodgers didn’t really know what to do with Firmino whilst he’s the first name on the team-sheet nowadays. No one else pictured Milner being that effective at left-back, even if it’s only a short-term solution.
There’s a real belief at Anfield that the man tasked with reviving our fortunes is a specialist at taking players to the next level and there’s evidence of that this season. Mané, Wijnaldum and Matip have all made real impacts too, so you have to back Klopp’s judgement in the transfer market. No one wants to see Coutinho or any other of our best players leave, but if Barcelona or another big name was to offer a huge sum then you’d trust Klopp to reinvest it wisely. There’s only one person you could argue is really world-class at Anfield right now and he’s in the dugout.