Pedro Chirivella is at a much younger age than 22 suggests. Liverpool fans certainly shouldn’t write off a bright future for the Spaniard.
Given that Harvey Elliott, one of the brightest prospects at Liverpool, is only 16 years old, Chirivella seems ancient.
The midfielder joined the Reds back in 2013 – when Elliott was just ten. It’s also notable that only now, several years later, are we talking about Chirivella in glowing terms. The praise was immediate with Elliott.
Both are a part of the same exciting, young Liverpool side, of course. They’ve shone in the cups and picked up the plaudits. But when one is 16 and the other 22, it certainly appears that the younger player has a brighter future.
But the truth is, Chirivella is at a much younger age than 22. That’s because the position he plays is one that relies far more on experience.
The Spaniard plays the holding midfield role, recycling possession and keeping the team ticking. That’s a role Jordan Henderson occupies for Liverpool – or has done for the past couple of months.
Henderson has been a revelation there, playing far better than anyone expected. In fact, he’s played the best football of his career there. That’s interesting, seeing as he occupied the position from 2015 until this time last year.
Only now, at 29, does he appear to have mastered it.
Liverpool’s first-choice there is Fabinho, of course. The Brazilian is 26 but even after playing that role for years at Monaco, he needed months and months before becoming first-choice. It’s not a role you can just slot into, clearly – it takes a lot of learning.
Just look around the Premier League, in fact. How many holding players are young? Manchester City have 34-year-old Fernandinho. Chelsea use 28-year-old Jorginho. Manchester United rely on 31-year-old Nemanja Matic when they want to play with one.
So Chirivella is 22 years old and while that seems like a ‘first-team’ age, he’s actually still very young. Seven years younger than Henderson, a player only now mastering the same role.
That holding role is a difficult one for any young player – it requires experience. Chirivella is only getting that now and he should get just as much patience as the rest.