Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Naby Keita face a battle for Liverpool’s third midfield spot. It’ll arguably be for the last piece of the puzzle.
Liverpool are absolutely brilliant. It doesn’t really need saying – their form proves it – but you still can’t really overstate it.
And over the course of this incredible campaign, Liverpool have built a first team that is probably the best in the world.
There’s Alisson in goal. A back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson. Then you’ve got Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum in midfield. The front three names itself, of course – Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
But that’s only ten players. Because, quite miraculously, Liverpool have stormed the league this season without knowing their best XI.
There is an open spot in midfield and a three-way battle to win it. Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita face that battle and anyone could win it.
The amazing thing is that the three of them could actually form a great midfield. But Henderson is a Player of the Year contender and Wijnaldum is the best in the world at what he does. That duo won’t move.
And so one spot is free and while it was Fabinho’s, things have changed. The £39m Brazilian picked up an injury, meaning Henderson moved back into that holding role.
Liverpool actually improved defensively, and statistically, at least, Henderson should stay there. But if Fabinho can’t play that holding role, he probably shouldn’t be there.
Instead, Liverpool would need a more attacking midfielder to take that spot on the right. Right now, it’s Oxlade-Chamberlain’s after his goal against West Ham. But Keita’s return puts the pressure on the £35m man. Keita, a £52.75m signing, has been out with an injury for a couple of months.
Should neither perform to an elite standard, though – and there are questions over both – then Henderson will return there and Fabinho gets his chance.
Liverpool can probably get away without knowing their strongest XI for a little while. But should they go deep in the Champions League, Jurgen Klopp will need to know it.
So the £126.75m trio have only a few months to find a winner.