Assessing Liverpool's Midfield For The Impending Season
Much has been made of Liverpool’s potential business this summer, particularly in the midfield department. While Jurgen Klopp has plenty of quality options to choose from, with his side achieving a top-four finish and subsequent return to the Champions League, a much busier fixture list will bring heavier demands.
That will put more pressure on his midfield options and could well see some additions over the next few months as a result. Should that be the case, what is it Liverpool are in need of ahead of a new campaign?
Lucas Leiva and Kevin Stewart have both departed this summer, with moves to Lazio and Hull City respectively. That will, of course, reduce the options available to Klopp this season but with both player surplus to requirements, they were both bound to move to pastures new.
Jordan Henderson has suffered his fair share of injuries over the last few years, struggling to string a number of games together under Jurgen Klopp, particularly at the business end of the campaign. Such was the case last season but if the club captain can stay fit, he could offer a real asset through the middle of the park.
He’s got plenty of energy to burn both on and off the ball, showing a great mix of athleticism, creativity and aggression to win the ball back at the first opportunity. People are quick to write off all he has achieved at Liverpool, particularly his role as captain, but he remains a vital member of the team and a player in which Klopp will come to rely on – especially in the Champions League.
Emre Can is another player to undergo his fair share of criticism since joining the club, having been unfairly written off early last season. The German played through an injury, naturally obstructing him from hitting his usual heights. However, at the back end of the season when Henderson was unavailable, he stepped up for Klopp.
Showing snide and steeliness in midfield, Can’s bullish figure was a crucial asset in dealing with the physicality of teams – not to mention his ability to come up with a crucial goal, particularly against Burnley and an award-winning bicycle kick at Vicarage Road.
The 23-year-old may not be a definite starter next season, but offers something none of his current teammates do. Having tied him down to a new contract, Klopp will be looking to unleash his full potential and ensure Can hits the heights he is capable of next year.
Likewise, Georginio Wijnaldum spot in the side is under scrutiny. The former-Newcastle midfielder enjoyed an impressive campaign, coming up with goals against Manchester City and Arsenal (just to name two), to help the team reach their target of a top-four finish. However, it was his all-round performances that were so impressive, showing energy and dynamism in the middle of the park to venture forward and provide creativity between the lines while carrying the discipline to track back and sniff out any danger.
Adam Lallana has been Klopp’s go-to man since he took up the reigns at Liverpool. The England international epitomises his gegenpressing style, displaying a never-say-die attitude to win the ball back and track down the opposition, forcing them into costly errors. Excellent in large periods of the season while also suffering in other parts, Lallana’s position in the team could come under threat if Liverpool are to delve into the market this summer.
Naby Keita is the number one target in midfield, with Jurgen Klopp earmarking jim as the perfect midfield prospect. The Guinean was voted the second-best player in the Bundesliga last season by supporters after an electric campaign for RB Leipzig.
A box-to-box, energetic player with creativity and goals in abundance, Keita has all the tools to be a terrific player for years. He’d suit Liverpool’s system down to the ground, whether that be alongside Henderson or Emre Can and it’s clear to see why The Reds are willing to fork out so much money for him this summer.
It’ll be hard to prize him away but he’s the exact type of player Liverpool should be targeting if they want to take that next step and challenge at the very top end. He’s a mouth-watering prospect and if there’s any chance he could fulfil it at Anfield, Klopp will delve into his transfer kitty.
Likewise, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a shrewd piece of business this summer. While not as exciting a prospect as Keita, his versatility and movement in between the lines would make for a good fit in Klopp’s style. Given he wants to make a move away from The Emirates and Liverpool are desperate for strength in depth, he could be the man to fill the void in several key areas.
Marko Grujic is also worthy of a mention, despite suffering injuries that impacted his involvement last season. The Serbian’s physicality and willingness to get stuck into tackles and put his body on the line could see him utilised more this season by Klopp. Given how many options there are, it’s likely he’ll be part of the rotation rather than first-team starter, but if his pre-season performances are anything to go by, Grujic could do a job for The Reds.