From the day he signed, Jordan Henderson has been picked at like the carcass of an animal tactically placed in one of Jeremy Wade’s terrifyingly dull runs of River Monsters. From your average Joe on twitter to Sir Alex Ferguson in his own autobiography, virtually everyone in the football world has taken a swipe at Henderson in the last couple of years. Not any more though.
The ex-England under-21s captain joined the Reds from Sunderland in a deal reportedly worth somewhere between 16 and 20 million pounds. Making a total of 79 appearances for the Black Cats in which he scored 5 goals, Henderson was scouted and statistically analysed by Damien Comolli to the point where the Frenchman seemed to know everything from his crossing accuracy to his shoe size.
After his first season at Anfield, one may have been left to wonder whether he was actually signed just because the (spare) shoes fit, or whether he did indeed have any significant future that could be trained into him one way or another. It’s fair to say that whilst Henderson didn’t have an awful season under King Kenny, it certainly wasn’t brilliant, as he scored only twice, assisted once, and made notably less chances than what he was signed for.
So what changed? Dalglish was shipped out by the Americans, and in came Brendan Rodgers, perhaps one of the few remaining people to believe Henderson had it in him to become a fantastic player.
Rodgers joined a club with an ageing, over-payed, underachieving team and his first job was to instill his mentality on the side, and shape it how he wanted. Many players left, a couple came in, and an offer was received which had Brendan and Jordan sit for perhaps their most important chat, what Jordan himself may look upon now as a pivotal point in his career. Rodgers offered Henderson the chance to leave, or the chance to stay and become a better player under him. And in the Northern Irishman’s own words: “I got the response I wanted. He told me that he wanted to stay here and fight.”
And fight he has. In Rodgers’ first season in charge of the Anfield outfit, Henderson played many games less than he did under Dalglish. However Rodgers insisted it was beneficial, and that his attitude showed him in the right direction, stating that Henderson “invested time into learning the game when he wasn’t playing so much”. It seems to have paid off.
Jordan Henderson now represents much of what Brendan Rodgers has brought to the club and the mentality he is trying to instil. Now vice (and seemingly next in line) captain to Steven Gerrard, the Wearside raised shit-house has added not only quality but responsibility to his game after what could certainly be described as a rather flat start to his Liverpool career. His work rate and attitude have remained constant, and under the coaching from Brendan Rodgers we can see that he is developing into quite some player. Tactically he is much more intelligent, and he’s trusted week in week out to play in the heart of Rodgers’ coveted midfield. He has developed an eye for a pass, more confidence and a more efficient nature, showing he can star for the Reds on a consistent basis. Already this season he’s assisted more than in the entirety of last, and he’s shown an increased pass completion percentage. He’s wiser and more conservative on the ball, but he takes smart risks when going forward.
Defensively he is a much better player too, this season showing that he can position himself well in an organised set up, and that he is more than capable of pressing how Brendan Rodgers wants his team to do so. He’s shown willing and versatility in playing different positions – such as right wing back – and most notably, he is showing signs of being a master of the transition, knowing where to press to and for how long, rather than running so much he spends a match drawing comparisons with the energizer bunny on steroids.
What’s next for Henderson? During the decline of Steven Gerrard, the general consensus is that the team tick over slightly better without him (but don’t tell anyone, they’re usually unwilling to accept the fact). Now Jordan has the chance to step up yet another level. Should he continue to improve, adding – most importantly – goals to his game to compliment his determined, efficient style, he could well lead a successful Liverpool side into a new era. He has the desire to improve, the manager to help him, and now it’s evident that he can push on and be worth every penny that Liverpool spent on him.
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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