Liverpool may give three-player Champions League boost if FSG makes multi-million decision
For the first time ever, Liverpool have won their first four matches of the Champions League group stage. This unleashed start in the “death group” means that the last two matches are now drawn, with qualification and first place already over. By hosting the success, Jürgen Klopp has given himself the luxury of rotation over the next two matches as he looks to work his way through a crowded winter schedule – many youngsters and fringe players could benefit.
The manager has warned that he will not make any big changes. Two more Champions League wins are said to be worth around £ 4.6million, a sum Liverpool cannot afford to sniff. However, with peripheral benefits such as increasing the value of the squad’s players and keeping the squad in shape for the Premier League (which of course also comes with major financial incentives), Klopp can certainly justify a rotation to the FSG.
Here are three players who could be offered opportunities against FC Porto and AC Milan:
Origi has already been in the Champions League this season, gave a surprise start against Milan before qualifying was even in the bag. It shows that Klopp still has some faith in the cult hero, and the manager will surely be ready to give him minutes even if he continues to seek wins in the last two games of the group stage.
The Belgian was not put on the scoresheet in the second leg with Milan, but he certainly did enough to earn another shot against the Italians. A nice assist for Mohamed Salah set up the equalizer, giving Liverpool a vital foothold in a game that had slipped away. Origi has often seemed out of step with the coordinated and efficient front three when given opportunities lately, but he’s been looking every inch of Klopp’s forward on that outing.
It is vital that he can wear this form in January, when he will surely be required in the absence of Salah and Sadio Mané at the African Cup of Nations. Minutes as part of a relatively strong squad are vital for Origi if he is to be ready to help Liverpool through what will be a testing period: Klopp will surely look to the 26-year-old against Milan and Porto.
Whether Morton is getting playing time in the remaining Champions League matches is a bit more of a gray area. The midfielder’s minutes have so far been entirely limited to the EFL Cup, so having him play in Europe’s premier competition could raise eyebrows at FSG headquarters when it comes to the £ 4.6million at stake. .
However, the midfielder has now reached the bench in several Premier League games and has been extremely impressive in his cup outings. Against Norwich, where he entered at half-time, he truly changed the game – his stabilizing influence made Liverpool much safer. Not necessarily a defensive midfielder by trade, he nevertheless seems to be heading in that direction in terms of his journey to first-team action: Beyond Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, he’s probably next on the list.
With Fabinho so crucial, Klopp will surely grab a rare chance to put him back. This opens the door for Morton; if he can play against top European opposition, he has the chance to really cement himself as a viable first-team cover in the number six role.
FSG must look beyond the immediate cash price which can be risky. By playing the 19-year-old, Liverpool are helping either put another youngster in the mold of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones, or massively inflate future transfer fees. Morton is ready to play at this level, and football’s lack of pressure on the results makes these last Champions League group stage games a perfect time to let him show it.
Among the current generation of youngsters, Gordon is probably the one for whom Liverpool have the most hopes. Like Harvey Elliott, he was snatched from a championship academy, having already had his first taste of senior football at a very young age – it’s still far from a guarantee of quality, but it’s a bit less of a unknown that the development of fully home club prospects.
In the preseason, Gordon has proven beyond a doubt that he can mix it up with the greats. He looked like the team’s biggest threat at times, not lacking in confidence or ability as he faced players nearly twice his age.
The 17-year-old missed the opportunity to shine in the EFL Cup against Preston with injury ruling him out, but Klopp will no doubt be eager to give him some first-team experience whenever possible. If all goes according to plan, he will eventually become a permanent fixture within the squad – getting him used to the elite environment of the Champions League could pay dividends later on.
Again, how FSG would view the selection of a teenager in such financially important fixtures is up for debate, but playing Gordon would be far from an admission of Klopp defeat. A relatively strong Liverpool side containing Origi, Morton and Gordon could certainly hold up against Milan and Porto: the trio hope the odds present themselves.