Liverpool face complex midfield transfer issue leading to Florian Neuhaus and Jordan Henderson
Liverpool need a midfield signing this summer – there may be little talk about that. What sparks more debate, however, is who it should be. Let it be a young starlet like Ryan Gravenberch. Let it be a player like Florian Neuhaus, who would represent a younger version of Gini Wijnaldum, with a bit of Jordan Henderson for good measure. Let this be an ambitious stunt for teenage Barcelona sensation Pedri. Or if that should be one of the countless other suggestions that have been put forward.
The reason why so many names are being launched is that at the moment there is a lack of clarity on what Liverpool will do in the transfer market. The club insist they aren’t necessarily aiming for a midfielder this summer, despite losing Wijnaldum on a free transfer – a player who has averaged around 50 appearances per season over five years. The chances of this position being true are, frankly, pretty slim.
But what they do to fix the problem and fill the glaring hole Wijnaldum is leaving behind remains to be seen. Much will depend on the availability of certain targets and who the Reds might be able to move on. Nothing, for example, will happen until players like Marko Grujić and Harry Wilson have been moved, or at least changes for them and others are well on track.
Then, finding a midfielder at the right price, with the right salary and with the right level of skill is called into question. Liverpool will not be paying too much in terms of fees, have a strict salary structure in place and need someone willing to accept that they will arrive at best as a fourth choice once the season begins and everyone is in the middle of it. pitch is in good shape and available for selection (Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcântara being the top trio).
Naby Keïta could well ignite, Curtis Jones is excellent and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain promises to be sharp in training. But Wijnaldum has played too many times in his Anfield career to take any unnecessary transfer bet, and each of these players has their drawbacks (injuries, inexperience and injuries respectively).
So even though it should be a few weeks away – and the transfer deadline isn’t until August 31, a little over six weeks into the future so there is plenty of time – it’s pretty safe to s ‘expect Liverpool to make a midfielder transfer. They would never admit to publicly attacking a player in that position, as that would reduce the value of the players they want to play on, while simultaneously increasing the prices charged to players on the club’s transfer shortlist. But Liverpool are not stupid, and we have to find a replacement at Wijnaldum.
There are, however, a number of things that the player in question must adhere to. In addition to the correct price for a transfer, their salary at an acceptable level and the fact that the player is ready for – at least initially – a rotation option, there are also a lot of boxes that need to be ticked in terms of profile. The player must have an excellent injury record; they must be young, but old enough to have enough data to prove with reasonable certainty their true potential and their ceiling; they must be good on the ball, resistant to the press and intelligent; and they must have the football intelligence to fit into a complex role fairly quickly.
On top of all that, however – and this is not an exhaustive list of requirements, but just a few, highlighting why pinning an option that Michael Edwards might turn to is a tough question – the midfielder needs to be extremely versatile. Liverpool may well move more towards a 4-2-3-1 formation at times next season, but their baseline will be 4-3-3 which has become a standard option for Jürgen Klopp for most of his tenure. in Liverpool. Even in a system with two midfielders behind a flexible quartet of attackers, one of those players must be able to play a naturally defensive role, tackle, break play and disrupt counterattacks, as well as to win the ball at the top of the field for Liverpool to push back their opponents.
Fabinho is one of the best players in the world to fill this role in the squad, having gotten used to playing the only pivot in the 4-3-3 system these days. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, alongside Thiago, for example, with former Bayern Munch having played several times in a double-pivot system, Fabinho could be the most defensive of the duo. Without Wijnaldum, however, the problem would come with Fabinho on the side.
If the Brazilian has been missing for a while – and he’s taken blows and strains in the past, missing 26 Liverpool appearances due to injuries, according to Transfermarkt, since joining Anfield in 2018 from AS Monaco – then Liverpool and Klopp would be stuck for a suitable alternative.
Jordan Henderson can play that tough tackle role if he needs to. But he’s better suited to play further forward and has a far from perfect injury record himself, so he could be more than possible out of the squad along with Fabinho. Thiago could play a deep role, but as he proved last season – while not as bad as some claimed – tackling isn’t particularly his forte. Likewise, Keïta could do it in a hurry, but is not exactly reliable himself on the injury front, and the same could be said of Joël Matip, who played that position for Schalke in Germany.
When it comes to young players, Leighton Clarkson is a natural, tough midfielder who sits at the base of a three and protects, and would be the closest stylistic match to Fabinho that Liverpool have. But he is not yet ready, it seems, for senior football in a side of Liverpool’s level, despite making his Champions League debut last season, and a loan could well arise.
As if there weren’t enough considerations to take into account with a possible midfielder signing this summer, you can also add to the mix the fact that whoever is signed isn’t just about the things to come. replace Wijnaldum, but they would also likely become Henderson’s long-term replacement. The Liverpool captain is certainly not yet finished his role as a regular starter, and his impending new contract shows he has many more years to go as a footballer, but his playing time will likely decrease – and consistency of his injury problems will increase – over the next several years. years. Whether we like it or not, a succession plan will have to be put in place.
So the truth is, there is a lot to think about for Liverpool when it comes to a new midfielder this summer. So many boxes need to be ticked – and the right player needs to be available at the right time – that it will take patience at the very least. Considering all of these requirements listed above, Florian Neuhaus would perhaps be the smartest addition Liverpool could make, but even he has its drawbacks – namely that in Germany the feeling is that he will make a one more year in the Bundesliga as it stands.
Liverpool, however, simply cannot afford to take that kind of risk that would require them to wait 12 months to bring in Neuhaus: they need someone this summer, even if they are not yet ready to go. ‘admit. Sign a midfielder? Yes. Which, however, is a much more complex question to answer.