The Leadership Debate at Anfield: Who Fills The Henderson Gap?

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The Wait and the Departure

A day feels like a long time in the wait for confirmations around outgoings and tangible links the other way right now. With Jordan Henderson and Fabinho seemingly set to depart at any given second, the players will soon have a decision to make about who they appoint the next captain and vice-captain. Aside from any debate of who the leadership group should include, many Reds have expressed their thoughts and opinions on who should take up the key positions. This may not be as straightforward as many think it will.

Jurgen Klopp’s Leadership Vision

Jurgen Klopp has always been clear that the players themselves vote and select the leaders. The group was expanded to six previously (Henderson, Van Dijk, Milner, Allison, Alexander-Arnold, and Robertson) a couple of years ago, but it’s uncertain if that will remain the same for the coming campaign. However, with revolution rather than evolution seeming to sweep through Anfield in the current climate, there may be more candidates than first suspected. Whether there’s a sense of continuity, an heir apparent, or a shake-up it’ll be fascinating to watch.

Virgil Van Dijk: The Obvious Candidate?

The obvious candidate and the general expectation is that Virgil Van Dijk will be naturally elevated into the armband. The Dutchman led the team against Karlsruhe earlier in the week and there was a suspicion that Dominik Szobszlai had given the game away so what on social media? Captain of his country and having lead the team numerous times before, it would be the smoothest, easiest, and safe bet for Jurgen Klopp’s side. That being said history, geography, and a groundswell on social media means it might not be the procession that was first suggested.

Photo: IMAGO

The Case for Alexander-Arnold

Simon Hughes in The Athletic laid out the case for homegrown superstar Trent Alexander-Arnold to take the armband on a full-time basis. Liverpool fans will look back to the time when Steven Gerrard took the captaincy for his hometown club and simply utter ‘Look how that turned out!’ Van Dijk wouldn’t diminish in anyone’s eyes and would still be a leader in every sense, as was the same for Sami Hyppia when Gerard Houllier made the decision at the time. Whilst a huge call, there would be a sense of excitement in such a sweeping change and wonder about the effects of extra responsibility for the West Derby-born player.

Photo: IMAGO

The Other Candidates in the Race

Other options don’t seem that left-field as may be suggested too. Allison Becker was player of the year by some distance last campaign and with fewer friends at his BBQs, will still enjoy a reverence and popularity within the dressing room. It still seems staggering too that Mo Salah who also captains his country, never made the group in the first place although you feel that may well change this time out. Additionally, Andy Robertson ticks all the boxes mentioned previously and as somewhat of a cult figure will have his backers amongst the fanbase.

Jurgen Klopp will naturally have his own opinions, but it’s that of his squad that he will always bow to in this sense. Whatever may have seemed the natural order of succession has been rocked by the changes in the transfer market and nothing appears certain. Van Dijk, Allison, Salah, Robertson, and Trent are all believable options as both captain and vice within the team and we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find it. Based on everything that’s happened so far this summer, no one should be surprised by the outcome.

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