Football UK

Where Liverpool’s 9 central midfielders stand under Klopp after Thiago transfer


Liverpool’s transfer saga of the summer is now over, but where does that leave them?

The Reds’ signing of Thiago Alcantara is one that had been anticipated for some time, and now the deal has been done then the Premier League champions have some quite staggering depth in midfield.

Jurgen Klopp has as many as nine players he could call upon to start a game in there, but just who are they and how likely are they to get a spot in the team under the German?

With the notable omissions of the more attacking Takumi Minamino, Xherdan Shaqiri and Harry Wilson – Minamino and Shaqiri are usually used off the left and right respectivly, while Wilson will probably leave – here’s the state of play for Liverpool’s midfielders.

The shiny new one: Thiago Alcantara

He walks among us

After weeks and weeks of refreshing every web page they could find with even the slightest bit of Reds information on it, plenty of Liverpool fans finally got the news they were waiting for on Thursday.

Klopp has been infamously patient with new signings in the past so it will be interesting to see when Thiago slots into the team, but the excitement around the deal is real and it is justified.

He might be treated carefully when he comes in, but once he’s up to speed he could be incredible to watch.

The one that shines: Fabinho

Fabinho impressed when he came on against Leeds

The man dubbed Liverpool’s ‘lighthouse’ by Pep Lijnders hasn’t always been too illuminating of late, but when he’s on his game there are very few better players in the world at doing what he does.

A surprise omission from the starting line-up against Leeds – likely a punishment for below-par pre-season – Fabinho did nonetheless come on and win the decisive penalty.

He’ll start more games for Klopp than he doesn’t, starting with Chelsea on Sunday.

The one you’re a bit puzzled by: Gini Wijnaldum

Wijnaldum is still likely to have a prominent role to play this season

When a footballer is doing well for a club they get rewarded with a new contract, right? And if a contract isn’t offered then that player has to leave, don’t they? Not necessarily.

Things would change if Barcelona came to the table with a serious offer, but as it stands there are no issues between Klopp and Wijnaldum, who is still an important player for the team.

It is a fluid situation, but right now there’s every possibility that the Dutchman stays, sees out the final year of his contract and all parties shake hands next summer.

The one you’re waiting for: Naby Keita

Keita started the Leeds game before being replaced in the second half

Pre-Thiago it was the Keita transfer saga of 2017 which was getting Reds fans hot under the collar, only for the Guinean to sign a pre-contract and turn up a year later to find a Reds team that had changed the way they play.

That coupled with injuries have made for a stop-start career which has looked very promising when in the start mode, only to quickly stall.

Thiago’s signing could be viewed as bad news for him but it probably shouldn’t, and he’ll have ample opportunities to play either in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1.

The one you want to keep around the place: James Milner

Milner is Liverpool’s vice-captain

Milner has made fewer and fewer appearances for the Reds in each of his last three seasons, and it might be a stretch to see him top 2019/20’s 37 games this time around.

But his place in the squad is still a hugely worthy one.

Klopp wants to keep the 34-year-old – who has a contract until 2022 – around the squad as he helps set the standards, and you can expect some more cameos from him across the season, even if it was a surprise that he didn’t come on against Leeds.

The legendary one: Jordan Henderson

Henderson came straight back into the team against Leeds

A Champions League and Premier League winning captain is certainly a thing to be, and it was no surprise to see Henderson put straight into the Liverpool team for the Leeds game despite having no pre-season to speak of.

The Reds have sometimes faltered in his absence, and it is his tempo-setting prowess which is so vital to the side, and ensures that he will always be one of the first names on Klopp’s teamsheet, certainly for the bigger matches.

The one you can move: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain would like to play in the centre but may be needed out wide

No-one remembers it now but Oxlade-Chamberlain turned in a wonderful performance in midfield in the Champions League last-16 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid, but he might just find that that was one of his final chances in a position he has often said he wants to play in.

He’s since featured more in the front three, and with a possible right-sided role in the 4-2-3-1 formation up for grabs then he might find himself out there more often than not.

That’s when he’s on the pitch of course, as his fitness and availability issues still linger.

The one who should have gone by now: Marko Grujic

Grujic once scored for the Reds in front of a full house against Barcelona at Wembley… in a friendly

You get the sense that the real effect of coronavirus on the transfer market can be seen in players like Grujic, who all of a sudden it is difficult to price up in these times.

The Reds want £20million for him as Hertha Berlin weigh up signing him on a permanent deal after two loan stints, but surely a compromise fee will be reached and he’ll be moved on.

The one you’ll see a lot of: Curtis Jones

Jones was turned to from the bench in the Leeds game

The status of Jones within the first-team group was underlined when he came on against Leeds, and he’s sure to get plenty of game-time this season across the four competitions Liverpool are in.

The staff have seen something in the local lad, and he looks like being an important player for Klopp.

He offers something different and it is genuinely exciting to watch him develop right now.

There should be so much more to come.


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