How exactly would Jugen Klopp use Erling Haaland at Liverpool? The Reds could pull off a coup to sign him.
Former Bayern Munich chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes Erling Haaland could end up at Liverpool. That’s what he told Sport1, anyway.
“Real and Barca have financial problems so I could imagine him moving to England,” said Rummenigge. “His father used to play there too. I could well imagine Liverpool for Haaland.”
Now, Haaland would be a difficult signing. Virtually every club under the sun wants him and we’re not sure Liverpool have the finances to win that kind of fight.
But imagine they did. How, exactly, would Jurgen Klopp utilise Haaland?
Erling Haaland at Liverpool
Haaland has one major trait – he scores goals at a ridiculous rate. He has 62 in 61 games for Borussia Dortmund, despite playing at the highest level.
So any team that signs Haaland needs to make sure they play around that. You can’t spend all the money and have him as a secondary option up top. You also don’t want to change his game at all – otherwise, what are you spending that money for?
Thus Haaland must be a no.9. Play him right down the middle and get him on the end of chances. But that presents a tricky scenario for Liverpool above all other teams.
Because Liverpool don’t play with that kind of striker. They use Roberto Firmino, who drops deep to link the midfield and get involved. He creates space for others and, effectively, plays as a no.10.
Or a ‘False 9’.
Take this comparison: Haaland averaged 16 passes per game last season. Firmino averaged 36. That’s an enormous difference and the two of them play entirely different styles.
So that begs some questions. If Haaland was up top and not receiving the ball, who is? Would the wingers need to get more involved deeper in play? Or would Liverpool shake up their midfield?
What Liverpool could do
We think the plan would be the latter. Liverpool, in fact, appear to be making moves in that direction already.
Usually, Klopp plays a holding midfielder in Fabinho and then two well-rounded functional midfielders alongside him. They don’t create much and Liverpool rely on them to be solid and disciplined rather than progressive with the ball.
But things are changing.
We’re seeing Curtis Jones in midfield, for instance, and he’s a far more progressive midfielder than Liverpool are used to. He carries the ball forward as well as anyone, providing a link to the forwards.
And that’s not the only shift. Harvey Elliott appears to have a future as a midfielder. Like Jones, he’s an attacking player who wants to carry the ball forward.
If these two can both operate in the same team – or alongside a passer like Thiago – Liverpool perhaps don’t need a False 9 doing the attacking-midfield work. The midfielders can do it.
Thus their centre-forward can push forward and be involved a whole lot less. Much as Haaland would want to.
We imagine this would be the plan. It’s far more attacking and risky than Liverpool usually play but it would explain them not replacing Gini Wijnaldum with a similar player – the plan has changed.
Then come the easy bits. With Haaland pushing up towards the box, he’s a world-class target for Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. He’s a constant threat to draw players away from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool would be an attacking machine unlike anything else. As long as they get that midfield shift right.