Michael Baddeley looks at Liverpool target Jorginho and the interest in him could impact the future of captain Jordan Henderson.
Only a few days ago I was sat here writing about how Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp should be targeting a central midfielder or two to play alongside Keita, more specifically, a no.6 and maybe a more attacking midfielder.
Coincidentally, as I was writing out said article, Paul Joyce released a report claiming that we would actually be targeting Napoli’s Brazilian born Italian international central midfielder Jorginho and a Philippe Coutinho replacement.
You’d have thought we’d already signed him by the reaction from Liverpool fans all over social media! Although I can understand the excitement, the announcement was very much a statement of intent. We might not have signed the Italian international, but Liverpool targeting such a player is HUGE.
We’ve missed someone of Jorginho’s ilk in the middle of the park for a number of years now, so to be having the phenomenal Keita guaranteed and players like Jorginho linked is fantastic news for the Reds.
The player isn’t an out-and-out defensive midfielder, in fact, he used to be more of a no.8. But since the appointment Maurizio Sarri, Jorginho has been deployed a lot deeper than he used to be.
Really, if we were to sign Jorginho then we could play him alongside Keita and a no.6. Keita could be the energetic driving force taking us forward, Jorginho could be the player to ping passes all around the park from a little bit deeper and a new defensive midfielder, if I had my way Wilfred Ndidi, could break the play up and play the ball off to his two midfielders.
That sounds like a certain midfield from the past, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds like our best midfield of modern times and arguably all time.
Of course, I’m talking about that trio of Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano. The three oozed class and this would be the closest we’ve had and closest we can get to replicating that midfield.
However, if Paul Joyce is right, then the Napoli midfielder will be played as the number six. Not that it’s a bad thing though, he’s a lot more disciplined and tactically superior than any of our deeper playing midfielders.
Not only is he better in those areas, but his passing is a joy to be held, registering a passing accuracy of 89.3 percent in the league, 94 passes per game and on average, 1.4 key passes per game.
He’s only registered four assists all season, but that shouldn’t be read into that much. He is the controller, the man who plays the ball around the park and will more than likely give the ball to the man who gets the assist.
So, with Jorginho being signed as a deeper lying player, what does this mean for our skipper and holding midfielder Jordan Henderson?
It might seem a little harsh, but the Englishman simply isn’t good enough to sit in that no. 6 role. He might be a workhorse and give his all for the team week in, week out, but let’s be honest, we could do a lot better than Hendo and it seems that Klopp may have picked up on that too.
As I said earlier, we might not be signing Jorginho, but the fact that we are interested in a player such as him, shows we are definitely in the market for someone with a little bit more quality in that position.
Since the departure of Stevie G, Hendo has never really been pushed for his starting position. Even with the fitness issues he’s had in the past he’s never been pushed out or challenged.
Emre Can has recently started to make a claim as to why he should be in there instead of the Englishman but he’s still not pushed him out. That might be because Klopp thinks that Emre Can is influential enough and good enough to play in a number of roles in that midfield. But as a fan, the fact Hendo hasn’t been pushed that much is slightly worrying.
However, if we do get our way and sign a new holding-midfielder then that could all change. Hendo would probably become a squad player and would feature on the bench a lot more often than usual.
Which brings me to my next point, if his squad position does take a hit should he keep his captain’s armband?
For me, the answer is resounding no. Personally, I don’t think he’s good enough to captain Liverpool Football Club when he’s been a first-team player let alone as a bench warmer.
He might get the players going and be effective in the changing room, but that doesn’t mean he does it on the pitch. He’s nowhere near vocal enough, he doesn’t ever seem to get angry at the lads when they make errors and he very rarely leads with his performances.
Look at other players we’ve had in the past. Any captain or vice-captain we’ve had in the past has been able to lead with their mouths, their hunger to win and their performance levels. He does none of that.
So many times dodgy decisions have gone against us and Hendo was never there to argue the toss with the referee. It might not be sporting, but look at all the best captains in English football. The likes of Keane, Gerrard, Rooney, Terry and Vieira would be in the referee’s ear influencing their decisions and getting on their backs. He’s too much of a nice guy and as skipper, he shouldn’t be.
I might be being a little bit harsh here, after all, he was never going to live up to his predecessor now was he, every player after Gerrard we’re going to be questioned and judged harshly so it was always going to be hard for him. But when you’re a captain of a club the size of Liverpool then you have to put up with it, take it in your stride and prove everyone wrong.
He might have been the only candidate for the last few years, but that’s changed now, we have top quality players throughout the squad who can either lead with performance or their mouths. As we saw before he left, Coutinho had a few games as skipper and did a decent job of it as the players would look up to him for his fantastic performances.
Obviously, Hendo becoming a squad player and losing his captaincy is all hypothetical. Joyce might be wrong about Jorginho, we might want him, but he might be being brought into play in a three with Keita and Henderson. But if it’s true and Jordan does lose his captaincy then we should start looking at who could take it now.
In absence of his captain and vice-captain, Klopp likes using players who have been there the longest. So far we’ve seen Mignolet, Lovren, Emre Can and Coutinho all become fill-in captain. But there’s one person who is definitely skipper material. He’s 6’4″, he’s a Dutch center back and he goes by the name of Virgil van Dijk.
If you follow my Twitter or have read some of my past articles then this won’t come as a surprise to you that I’m saying this. He’s a Rolls Royce of a player. He’s calm and composed, he leads with his performances and is incredibly vocal. He’s ready made for the job and I don’t think the high-profile role would faze him at all.
Am I looking to far into this? Maybe. But for me, the interest in a player who is perfect for that role of sitting at the base of Liverpool’s midfield spells the beginning of the end for Henderson.
You might not think it, especially after this article, but I actually think he is a good player and I would be happy for him to stay at the club. But I don’t think he’s good enough to be a regular starter or club captain.