There has been much discussion about the need for Liverpool to invest in their midfield, as many of the current options are either aging or prone to injury. Despite this, the club has only brought in one new midfield player in the past four and a half years, with the club seemingly waiting for the “right player”. However, the question remains as to what type of midfielder would be the right fit for the club, given their current position and where they hope to be in the future.
One example of a successful midfield for Liverpool was during the 2019-2020 season, where the team won numerous trophies and gained widespread admiration for their style of play. The front three of Mohamad Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino were praised for their flexibility, work rate, and creativity, and were supported by full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, making Liverpool an offensive force. However, the key to this success was the composition of the midfield, made up of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, and Gini Wijnaldum. These players were able to hunt down and suffocate the opposition, while also covering the spaces left by the offensive players, allowing them to attack with freedom. This balance between attack and defense was crucial to Liverpool’s success, as it allowed them to have one of the best defenses in Europe while also scoring a high number of goals.
Recently, Liverpool’s midfield has evolved to include more technical players such as Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott. Thiago was brought in to provide guile and technical ability in central areas, but his success may depend on the presence of players like Henderson and Wijnaldum who can provide the necessary running and defensive awareness. Elliott, a young talent, has faced criticism as part of a midfield that has been exposed in transition, leaving Trent Alexander-Arnold vulnerable without sufficient cover on his right side.
Given the current struggles of the team, it is understandable that there is a desire for a more creative midfield. However, it is important to consider the balance between attack and defense and the importance of players who can do the less glamorous work in midfield. While technical ability and creativity are important, they must be paired with the necessary work rate and defensive awareness to ensure the team is protected. As Liverpool look to improve and rebuild their squad, it will be crucial for them to find the right mix of players who can contribute to both ends of the pitch.