Friday, July 14, 2023

Liverpool’s Evolving Midfield

The Summer of Saudi could soon be making Liverpool sweat. The move to Saudi Arabia  by forward Bobby Firmino was a gentlemanly departure of a much-revered player whose role was diminished in a crowded front line. Now, however, a larger disruption could be in store. Saudi clubs are rumored to be forming offers for Jordan Hendersen, Fabinho and Thiago. Whether these whispers are just silly season attention grabbers or a real risk for the Reds is to be determined.

The Hendersen move has extra interest for Liverpool supporters as the current Liverpool captain would reunite with former midfield teammate Steven Gerrard. Liverpool legend Gerrard, himself a former captain of the Reds, will now manage in the Saudi League as he picks up the pieces following his unsuccessful and relatively short run as a Premier League manager with Aston Villa. The potential loss of three midfielders to Saudi Arabia could undercut recent improvements to the Liverpool midfield and necessitate further transfer moves.

The midfield has been a problem for the Reds dating to the loss of Gini Wijnaldum two years ago. Wijnaldum was a natural fit for Klopp’s gegenpressing style and the Dutch international was a key part of Liverpool’s Champions League and Premier League winners before his 2021 signing with PSG. The much-heralded acquisition of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig has turned out to be a monumental flop. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was never able to overcome the injury woes which followed him from Arsenal. The versatile James Milner helped somewhat to patch over holes in the midfield, but the 37-year-old is now off to Brighton. Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain have also left the club while midfielder Fabio Carvalho is on loan to RB Leipzig.

Liverpool upgraded the midfield this offseason with the acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai. World cup winner Mac Allister moves over from Brighton where the 24-year-old enjoyed a breakout season last year. The Argentine scored 12 goals as the Seagulls secured a European place for the first time. Szoboszlai arrives from RB Leipzig as the second signing by new Liverpool Sporting Director Jorg Schmadtke. The 22-year-old Hungarian international helped his German squad to two German Cup titles while recording 20 goals and 22 assists in 91 appearances for the club. The young midfielder also captains his national team.

Twenty-two year-old Curtis Jones, 20-year-old Harvey Elliot and 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic are already on the Liverpool roster and could make bigger contributions next season. Jones recently starred for the England U21 Euro champions.

The wildcard in the midfield for Liverpool is Trent Alexander-Arnold. Technically a left back, Alexander-Arnold would advance into a midfield role last season when Liverpool was on the attack, a strategy employed similarly at Manchester City with John Stones. The problem for Liverpool is that only the inexperienced Bajcetic is a true defensive midfielder and thus the loss of both Hendersen and Fabinho would likely mean going to market for a player to help protect Liverpool’s back line. Real Madrid’s Aurelien Tchouameni has been connected with a potential Anfield move in past windows and the 23-year-old defensive midfielder would be a nice solution if he could be pried free from the Spanish super club.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: