Whilst Liverpool’s European title defence took a turn for the worse following the Reds’ 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night, there was some positive news for supporters after footage emerged of forgotten man Nathaniel Clyne stepping out to train at Melwood as he looks to continue his rehabilitation from the cruciate ligament injury sustained in the summer which has kept him out of action all season.
It would be forgiven for even the loyalist of Kopites if they had forgotten that Clyne was in fact still a Liverpool player. Such is the extent to which he has almost completely faded into the peripheral following a number of gruelling long-term injuries.
Despite his gargantuan decline from one of the club’s most consistent players to a player destined for the Anfield exit doors this summer, it is easy to forget that in his first two seasons at the club, Clyne was one of the most dependable players for Jürgen Klopp in the early days of his tenure.
Clyne was never a shining figure-head nor a player who had a particularly flamboyant style to his game. The £12.5 million [BBC Sport] man from Southampton was instead the embodiment of consistency.
Whether it was an inspiring 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge or a harrowing 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth, rewind far enough and it would probably read in black and white that Clyne scored a 7/10 in the ECHO’s player-ratings almost every time.
In the 2016/17 campaign and Klopp’s full inaugural season as manager, he played in all but one of Liverpool’s Premier League games. Although somewhat limited in his ability to get forward and influence games in the final third, Clyne was always an outstanding defender who consistently utilised the traditional arts of defending with aplomb.
However, sadly for Clyne, injury, as well as the unqauntifiable rise of Trent Alexander-Arnold, saw the former England international all-but usurped as Klopp’s first-choice right-back. Clyne wouldn’t even be given the luxury of playing second-fiddle in Klopp’s world-conquering contingent with teenager Neco Williams very-much Liverpool’s next best thing at full-back.
Clyne hasn’t featured for Liverpool since starring in the 3-1 victory against Manchester United in December 2018. A loan spell followed at Bournemouth before the player was once again subject to another long-term injury that has seen him on the sidelines all season.
With Klopp balancing the Champions League on top of the Reds’ imminent Premier League title parade, the German manager is likely to alternate between Alexander-Arnold and Williams in the coming weeks as Liverpool seek a league and European double.
Out of contract at the end of the season, by which point he will be 29, Clyne will surely leave as a free agent who was robbed of his peak years at the pinnacle of European football. It’s staggering to believe it’s coming up to five years since his arrival on Merseyside.
Clyne’s love affair with the Reds was sadly a case of an Anfield tenure that had built so much initial promise that ultimately and cruelly ending up very much unfulfilled.