At Anfield on Friday evening all eyes were focused on Virgil van Djke during the impromptu Merseyside derby in the third round of the FA cup.
The Dutch central defender was making his first appearance since signing for Liverpool at the start of the January transfer window, a move that has attracted considerable interest across the footballing world due to the £75 million fee.
The 26-year-old impressed on his full debut, producing an assured performance at the heart of The Reds’ defence, and ensured that his name would be in all of the headlines on Saturday morning by heading in the winning goal late in the second-half.
Whilst van Dijk will rightly receive the plaudits for his start to life at Anfield one of his new team mates made an equally impressive contribution to Friday’s FA Cup victory.
Andrew Robertson has been Liverpool’s forgotten man for much of the campaign having struggled to break into Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven after signing from relegated Hull City in the summer.
However, the Scottish left-back has found himself playing an increasingly prominent role in recent months and his solid all-round performance on Friday evening suggests that he is beginning to fulfil his potential.
Frustration, patience and taking his opportunity
Andrew Robertson arrived at Anfield in the summer from relegated Hull City for an initial fee of £8 million that could eventually rise up to £10 million with add-ons.
He had a reputation for being a dynamic, attack-minded full-back who is equally effective at both ends of the pitch and he was earmarked as one of the few bright sparks despite The Tigers’ ultimate relegation to The Championship.
However, he initially struggled to break into the Jurgen Klopp’s side and he was forced to spend much of the early-season period watching on as a substitute from the bench.
Prior to November, the 23-year-old had made more appearances for Scotland than he had for his club side and this was mainly due to the significant improvement in Alberto Moreno’s performances.
The Spaniard had cemented his place as Liverpool’s first choice left-back due to his impressive form, to such an extent that he was recalled to the national team for the first time since 2014, leaving Robertson having to be content with being little more than a bit-part player.
Things can alter rapidly in football and in mid-December Moreno limped out of Liverpool’s seven-goal victory against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League with an ankle injury that was estimated to keep him out of action for at least six weeks.
The door had suddenly been opened for Robertson to stake a claim for a first team spot and he has certainly taken his opportunity.
The Scottish international has featured in eight of Liverpool’s last ten fixtures across all competitions and continues to grow in confidence with each appearance that he makes.
He has looked calm, composed and efficient when in possession whilst the dynamic forward runs that he was renowned for whilst at Hull have once again begun to emerge. However, he is equally as effective in defensive scenarios and he possesses a robustness and solidarity in the way that he undertakes his defensive responsibilities that Moreno arguably lacks.
Liverpool have not had a top-quality, consistent left-back on their books since John Arne Riise almost a decade ago, to such an extent that James Milner was shoe-horned into the role by Klopp for much of last season.
However, in Robertson they now have a player that has the potential to make the position his own for the foreseeable future and, at 23 years of age, he is only going to improve with time.
Virgil van Dijk may be the focus on attention at Anfield at the moment, but Andrew Robertson’s emergence may prove to be equally as important to Liverpool’s success as the campaign progresses.
Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
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