Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Why there is an obsession with Liverpool’s midfield

Liverpool’s midfield is the one area of the team that is persistently analysed on a weekly basis with a combination of such diverse talent that even four years into the Jurgen Klopp project, the Red’s best midfield triumvirate still remains an ambiguous concept across the fan base.

Naby Keita (£58m), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£40m) Fabinho (39m), Jordan Henderson (£20m), Geroginio Wijnaldum (£25m), James Milner (free) and Adam Lallana (£25m) have all been regularly rotated throughout Liverpool’s 44-match campaign so far.

Traditionally, Liverpool’s most trusted midfield trident has been the one that got the team over the line in the Champions League final which consists of Fabinho at the base with Henderson and Wijnaldum operating as the workhorses in front.

Liverpool line up (R-L) Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool FC at Wanda Metropolitano on February 18, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, numerous injuries to the trio, in particular, to Henderson and Fabinho have limited Klopp to utilising the midfield group that finally gave the German manager something tangible for the incredible work that has gone on since Klopp arrived at Anfield in October 2015.

This has caused a disruption in regards to the rhythm of the team with the growing controversy over who should be entrusted to regularly fill-in when Liverpool’s supposed ‘strongest’ trident is unavailable for selection.

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Also, another factor that raises much debate in terms of the midfield is the money that has been invested into that specific area of the team which has the most unambiguity regarding players in that position.

Keita was brought into Anfield as the third most expensive signing in the club’s history following a move from RB Leipzig in 2018. The Guinean talisman, however, still remains an enigma amongst the Liverpool fan base with numerous injury setbacks limiting his contributions over the past 18-months.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is another who was secured on a significantly inflated transfer fee following a move from Arsenal in 2017. The Englishman took his time to find his feet with the Reds but unleashed himself onto the scene following an inspiring Champions League run that culminated in one of the goals of the season against Manchester City.

Again, injury has plagued the immeasurable progress the 26-year-old had made following a slow start.

DOHA, QATAR – DECEMBER 21: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Liverpool during the FIFA Club World Cup final match between Liverpool FC and CR Flamengo at Khalifa International Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Most notably, the midfield is the one area in the team that has taken considerable time to get right. Liverpool were able to fix vulnerabilities in the team with big-money signings such as Virgil van Dijk and Alisson following a database system that identified the pair as guaranteed long-term fixes.

Liverpool haven’t been as fortunate with their midfield system and despite hundreds of millions of pounds pumped into the club looking to perfect practice, there still remain unanswered questions.

It is perhaps the one enigma that creates the most intrigue as it is the main area of the pitch where players require multiple traits and qualities to match Klopp’s style of play.

It remains to be seen in the long-term what Liverpool will do to create the best possible midfield base to ensure the Reds maintain on the title march for seasons to come. Because of this ambiguity it has undoubtedly created the most engaging debate when discussing how the team is best suited to succeed.


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