Liverpool beat AC Milan 2-1 on Tuesday evening with a heavily-rotated side. The likes of Nat Phillips and Neco Williams shone brightly – after a nervous summer.
Jurgen Klopp went with a second-sting team against AC Milan last night. It saw him retain just three ‘first-team’ players – Alisson, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. No one else would get in Liverpool’s best XI right now and yet they walked away with a 2-1 win.
And we don’t think you can overstate how impressive that is. Milan lead Serie A right now and beat Atletico Madrid two weeks ago – they went into this one needing a win at home, too, while Liverpool have nothing to play for.
Yet, the second-string won. Salah got the first, Divock Origi the second, and everyone on the pitch played well.
We want to pick out a couple of players for that, too – Neco Williams and Nat Phillips. They played right-back and centre-back here and were brilliant.
But they could have easily left the club in the summer. Good thing they didn’t.
Liverpool beat AC Milan 2-1
The Athletic claimed in the summer that Liverpool had a £15m price-tag on Phillips. In the end, though, no one paid it and he remained at Anfield as a fifth-choice centre-back. In fact, this win over Milan was his first start for the Liverpool first team this season.
Returning to the Athletic, they said back in June that Williams could leave Liverpool for around £10m. Once again, no one stumped up the cash and the 20-year-old is still around.
That’s £25m Liverpool missed out on for two players without obvious long-term futures. Right now, though, we think the Reds can feel fortunate.
The two thrived on Tuesday evening and looked like quality Liverpool players against a good Milan side. They impressed in the Champions League at one of the biggest grounds in all of football.
Now that, for us, is worth more than £25m. Williams looked far, far more than a £10m player in this one – and has done whenever he’s featured this season.
And Phillips held his own against Zlatan Ibrahimovic. That’s not usually something you get for £15m.
Liverpool perhaps got a little lucky, then. They would have said yes to £25m in the summer but after this display, we’re not sure that’s anywhere near enough.