Liverpool’s Midfield Choices: A Tightly Contested Battle
While much of Liverpool’s strongest possible starting lineup picks itself this season, one of the few areas of contention is the left-sided No.8 position in the Reds’ midfield.
With Alexis Mac Allister anchoring things in the No.6 role and Dominik Szoboszlai an undisputed starter, too, it looks to be a toss-up between Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch for the other spot, in terms of featuring there most regularly.
Harvey Elliott has also made a strong case so far this season, but he is at his best as an impact substitute.
Football is far more of a squad game nowadays, with the number of matches meaning ‘best’ XIs aren’t as easy to name as they used to be, but if it was the Champions League final tomorrow, we all know who we would personally choose.
A difference of opinion can only be healthy.
Jones vs Gravenberch: Analyzing Their Styles
With Jones, some feel he struggles to impose himself on games and doesn’t move the ball quickly enough. There is also an accusation held against him that hints at him being overly praised because he is a homegrown player, which feels harsh, considering how local talents can often be even more scrutinised, such is the desperation to want them to succeed.
Meanwhile, despite there being a lot of positivity about Gravenberch since he traded Bayern Munich for Liverpool, there are question marks from some about his defensive work, as he continues to adjust to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics. Is he too much of a luxury player right now?
The truth is, both are fantastic options for Liverpool – two very different footballers who will play major roles in what is hopefully a glorious next chapter in Klopp’s tenure.
The Role of Homegrown Talent in Liverpool’s Strategy
Jones seems to have been turned into the Reds’ new version of Gini Wijnaldum, proving to be press-resistant in the extreme, completing 93.4% of his passes in the Premier League this season. He has also averaged 1.5 tackles per game, compared to Gravenberch’s tally of 0.6.
While once a flamboyant attacking star famed for his tricks and flicks in the academy, the young Scouser is now a more disciplined figure largely doing exactly what his manager asks of him, albeit not always to perfection, which is only natural at his age.
Gravenberch’s Adaptation to Klopp’s Tactics
The early signs with Gravenberch suggest that he could be a more exotic option than Jones moving forward, with his pace in midfield and ability to break the lines highlighted at Man City last weekend, with his run past Rodri playing a part in Trent Alexander-Arnold equaliser.
The Dutchman already has two goals and assists apiece to his name this season, whereas Jones has contributed just a solitary assist. As mentioned, he may not yet be as defensively sound as his teammate, but he has more of that Jude Bellingham-esque magic about him, both physically and technically.
Forecasting Liverpool’s Midfield Future
Certain games will call for Jones to start, and likewise, other occasions with need Gravenberch instead. They will both play in some matches, too, and they are huge talents who should only get better.
At just 22 and 21, respectively, Jones and Gravenberch have so much time to hone their skills and become truly formidable players – let’s not forget that Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson were well into their 20s by the time they made up Liverpool’s title-winning midfield – and they should both be cherished greatly by Klopp and supporters alike.