At this point, doubting Jurgen Klopp seems foolish.
Everything he touched in Liverpool more or less worked. He delivered a league title, pushed them Manchester City season after season and took an unprecedented bid for a quadruple until the end of May last season.
It moved quickly in the transfer market: winger Fabio Carvalho first came from Fulham, then came to sign club-record Darwin Nunez, from Benfica in a deal expected to reach £85million, and now the finishing touches are in the works on a £6.5million. deal for Aberdeen full-back Calvin Ramsey.
Fabio Carvalho (left) and Darwin Nunez (right) are two of Liverpool’s summer signings
Liverpool have also made a breakthrough in their pursuit of Aberdeen starlet Calvin Ramsay
Two exciting young talents and one of Europe’s most sought after marksmen is a brilliant summer of business in many ways. Sadio Mane will move on and more departures could follow, but as far as arrivals go, that seems to be it.
Klopp has his 2022-23 squad.
Yet there is a nagging feeling among Liverpool fans and viewers that, for some time, they have needed reinforcements in central midfield.
As things stand heading into next season, Klopp will be able to call on Thiago Alcantara, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Harvey Elliott, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Carvalho, should he be deployed from way more central than in a wide role all set for Luis Diaz to lock on the left.
The ages of the fateful eight were: 31, 36, 32, 28, 19, 27, 21, and 19. A real mix of youth and experience.
The reason many have highlighted the midfielder is creativity, more than depth.
Jordan Henderson (left) and James Milner (right) provide midfield experience
Thiago Alcantara represents Liverpool’s most creative midfielder ahead of 2022-23
Liverpool’s two main builders last season were league leader Mohamed Salah with 13 assists and right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, second in the league with 12.
Left-back Andrew Robertson finished third with 10, level with Chelsea’s Mason Mount, Leicester’s Harvey Barnes and West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen.
Much of the success under Klopp is down to the world-class abilities of the full-backs. The combination of 22 assists in a campaign is unrivaled compared to City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United.
But in midfield, an analysis of Thiago, Milner, Henderson, Fabinho, Elliott, Keita and Jones in the league last season shows they combined for just 13 assists between the seven.
Of those players, only Jones (15) and Elliot (9) have played less than 23 league games in 2021-22.
Ramsey, one of the summer signings is a former midfielder who has done well to create from right-back, will add to scale production but more responsibility will be placed on midfielders to step up on the approach from 2022-23.
|League 2021-22||Jordan Henderson||Fabinho||Thiago||James Milner||Naby Keita||Curtis Jones||Harvey Elliot|
|Odds created from open play||36||16||29||18||15||ten||8|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||85.5||87.5||89.1||86||86||90.5||84.2|
Fabinho (left) had five goals last season, but Naby Keita (right) needs a lot more
Although no central midfielder was set to arrive, Liverpool had planned to take a different route, only for Real Madrid to frustrate that plan.
They were chasing France international Aurelien Tchouameni but admitted it was difficult to add him as he was eager to join Real Madrid, and he joined them from Monaco in an £85m deal .
Jude Bellingham also has his admirers at Liverpool, but there was never any talk of the England international leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.
And so any midfield remodeling will wait until this time next summer.
By then, Milner will be 37, Keita will be out of contract and Elliott and Jones’ development will be food for thought.
No midfielder played more games last season than Henderson, who finished with 35 appearances in 38 league games, starting in 29 of them.
He was the midfield leader in assists with five, created the most chances with 38 and completed the most assists, finishing with 2,157.
This season should provide more opportunities for Harvey Elliott (left) and Curtis Jones (right)
So Henderson, who is under contract until 2025, is a metronome who keeps Liverpool going.
Given Liverpool’s formidable attack, there is little confidence in goals coming from midfield, with Fabinho leading the way with just five goals during the season.
The question mark for Liverpool is that an injury to the Brazilian or Thiago, who is their more creative option in midfield, would force Klopp to rely increasingly on his younger and less proven stars.
Elliott progressed but suffered a nightmarish injury at Leeds which set back his progress, seeing him finish with just six league games in 2021-22.
Jones has had more experience but it’s still unclear if he can carry the midfielder on his back if the call comes from Klopp amid injuries and only time will tell if he’s cut out. and dominate a team looking to get back on the hunt. for a quadruple.
Then there’s Milner, who signed a new contract to stay on for another season. He has won just nine starts from his 24 league appearances and although he said he only signed the new contract on the basis of his ability to contribute, his presence in the dressing room of players like Elliott and Jones is invaluable.
Jurgen Klopp to vet his midfielder next summer and hopes not signing one isn’t a mistake
“He’s a role model,” Klopp said in April.
“I told him, I can tell the whole world – nothing we’ve achieved in the last few years would have happened without James Milner, it’s as simple as that.”
“Whether he’s on the pitch or not, he set standards in a way that few can set, and that educated us all.”
Look, if Klopp is comfortable with his midfield options heading into the new season, the fans should be too.
He just hopes it’s a decision that doesn’t come back to bite.