Liverpool transfer position means FSG is betting on a player’s fitness
Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure from PSG left Liverpool without a consistent, smart and brilliant midfielder, but it also leaves JÃ¼rgen Klopp’s side short of midfield.
One of Wijnaldum’s greatest strengths was his availability. In the 2020/21 season, Wijnaldum played 3,919 minutes, or just over 43 full matches. None of his midfielder partners have accumulated more minutes during the season, with Jordan Henderson (2113) and Thiago (2201) noticeably behind Fabinho (3466).
Last season, Liverpool played 53 appearances, for a total of 4,470 minutes. If the Reds reach the Champions League quarter-finals and play two FA Cup and League Cup rounds, Liverpool are set to play 52 games (4,680).
If Liverpool reach the final of all cup competitions, the team expect to play 63 games this season, which is a colossal 5,670 minutes.
But suppose Liverpool have similar cup runs to last year and play 52 games.
As Liverpool play in a 4-3-3, this means the team will likely have to cover 4,680 minutes in each midfield position during the season. Over the past three years, the average number of minutes played by Liverpool’s starting midfielders has been:
- Thiago 2867
- Henderson 2626
- Fabinho 3106
If we assume that all three players have reached their average number of minutes played over the past three years, that still leaves a shortfall of 5,441 minutes for midfield positions to cover.
However, James Milner is not getting any younger, while Naby KeÃ¯ta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri – the latter of whom recently converted to number eight – all have injury issues that have kept them from reaching the 2000 minute mark. last seasons.
If the four midfielders all stay at the club and play around 1,000 minutes, or 11 full games each, Curtis Jones could easily take over. However, if a midfielder in the group gets injured, it will almost certainly be Jones who has to take on that extra workload.
Last season Jones played the most football of his career, totaling 1,952 minutes. A similar contribution this season would be more than enough, provided there are no serious injuries. But a major injury to one of the starting midfielders could precipitate an injury crisis like the defense in 2020/21.
Serious injuries to a key player at the start of the season tend to have a cascading effect, with players not acquiring the proper physical form to play two or three games a week, and subsequently getting injured. , resulting in self-inflicted injury. domino effect, with bench and reserve players brought in, only to pick up soft tissue injuries like hamstring tears.
If Jones were to be the player who got injured, the midfielder would be desperately short of options, and Klopp might even have to switch systems, to 4-2-3-1 for example, in order to save the legs and to protect his starting midfielders.
Basically, as the numbers prove, a lot is on the shoulders of young Curtis Jones. Last season he impressed both in the Premier League and the Champions League, with outstanding performances against Atalanta and RB Leipzig. But switching from a spin option to a regular starter is a big demand. He is undoubtedly technically capable, but injuries can happen to anyone, even with careful management of playing time.
The Liverpool midfielder may be just one major injury away from yet another injury crisis, and although the team remains in good shape, whether the team progresses into the National Cups or beyond Champions League quarter-finals, the team will be stretched.
Last year the club bet on Fabinho as the fourth center-back as a cover, and in mid-January the season fell apart. This season, it looks like Curtis Jones is the fail-safe midfielder – and that comes with a significant risk.