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Statistics show Jordan Henderson’s display against Roma was his best for Liverpool



Photo: Getty Images.

In the build-up to the Champions League semi-final, there was one joke which was repeatedly told, “imagine the sight of Jordan Henderson lifting the Champions League trophy”. On Tuesday night, the Liverpool captain showed just why it’s a distinct possibility.

The midfielder completely dominated the experienced Italian trio of Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan, teaming up perfectly with James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum, who replaced the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to put their stomp on the game and dictate the tempo.

Sitting deep and playing balls over the top, Henderson showed what he can do as a playmaker with his impressive range of passing on show once again, completing as many passes in the final third as Sadio Mane.

Of his 54 passes, only 16 were backwards, compared to 22 forwards, and Henderson was consistently looking to move the ball forward and find a breakthrough against Roma’s high defensive line.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Defensively, Henderson was even more impressive. No player completed more ball recoveries than Henderson’s 12, so much so that the next best tally on his team was seven, almost half of what the captain contributed.

The location of his recoveries too showed his influence, playing in the holding midfield role and breaking up play before looking to rapidly start counter-attacks.

Restricting himself to an entirely central role, Henderson got the better of the likes of De Rossi and Strootman and put them on edge right from the off, causing them to be sloppy in possession and panic, which only got worse as the goals started flowing for the Reds.

In addition, he was successful in more tackles than any other Liverpool player as he made the midfield his own in arguably the highest profile fixture he has ever played in.

Many have questioned the credentials of the former Sunderland man, who is also in contention for the England captaincy, but performances like on Tuesday should soon convince any doubters that he is a key piece of Jurgen Klopp’s puzzle. Post-match, a number of fans and pundits aired their praise for his display.

The tie may only be at half-time but Jordan Henderson must show such leadership on the field of play again in Rome after his team lost their focus in the closing stages of their first leg clash.

Leading by example is pivotal to Henderson’s style and displays like his performance on Tuesday night at Anfield go a long way to justifying his role as captain of Liverpool.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.


Three reasons Liverpool fans will instantly love Naby Keita

The former Leipzig man has already been a big hit with the fans.

Max Cohen



Naby Keita
Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool‘s new centre-midfielder Naby Keïta recently opened up on his footballing career in an interview in The Guardian, offering fascinating insights into his life that will surely endear him to the Anfield faithful.

From his childhood dreams of playing for the Reds, his adoration of Steven Gerrard, and his friendship with Sadio Mané, here are three reasons Keïta appears a perfect fit for Liverpool.

The midfielder grew up wearing a Liverpool kit when playing football

During Keïta’s childhood in Guinea, he honed his skills playing football on the streets. In the interview, the midfielder said he donned the iconic Liverpool kit during these exploits.

“As a kid we used to play in the streets wearing a Liverpool shirt,” Keïta said, revealing his long-standing connection with the club. Although many new signings tend to claim they dreamed of playing for the club when they grew up, for the Guinean the statement rings true.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard served as one of his footballing inspirations

Along with Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta, Keïta lists Steven Gerrard as one of his footballing inspirations. He imagined himself as the Liverpool legend when he was a youngster, and also shares Gerrard’s famed number 8.

“Because I’m a midfielder and Steven Gerrard was always the boss of the team I couldn’t be anyone else but Steven Gerrard when I played,” Keïta said.

And fittingly, Gerrard was on hand to gift the new signing his new number when Keïta officially joined Liverpool.

Keïta has a close relationship with Sadio Mané

When deciding on whether to move to Liverpool, the Guinean international said he consulted with Mané, a player he has a close relationship with. The Senegalese winger convinced Keïta to sign for the Reds, and hopefully their chemistry off the pitch will translate into goals galore for Liverpool.

“Sadio is like a brother to me. We had nine months together at Salzburg and built up a good rapport. We have been great friends since that time. He told me what a great club this was and how the team was progressing and had great potential,” Keïta said.

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Three ins and outs Liverpool could complete this week

Liverpool have already made several new additions this summer.



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Liverpool have been extremely active during the summer transfer window and there is every chance that boss Jurgen Klopp might not be finished reshaping his squad just yet, with more new arrivals potentially on the horizon at the club.

The Reds finished in fourth last season and after splashing the cash on Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alisson Becker, there is a real sense that they must make a genuine attempt to challenge for the title during the forthcoming campaign.

The elusive Premier League crown is one that Liverpool desperately crave and Klopp will understand that thought process from the club’s ardent supporters, with the German mightily keen to ensure that the club one day gets their hands on the ultimate prize.

With the transfer window starting to hot up as the season gets closer, we take a look at three deals that could be completed by the Anfield-based club during the next week…

New central defender set to check-in?

According to reports in Turkish newspaper Milliyet, Liverpool have begun negotiations with Turkish club Besiktas over a deal that will see defender Domagoj Vida arrive at Anfield ahead of next season.

The reports claim that the Croatian defender caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp during the summer’s World Cup and it could take a fee in the region of £26 million to prise him away from his current club.

It would see Vida link-up with fellow compatriot Dejan Lovren, although given the fantastic form of Virgil van Dijk last season, it seems quite likely that Vida will take Lovren’s place should he complete a deal to Liverpool.

(Photo by Alexander Nemenov/Getty Images)

Goalkeeping departure

With the arrival of Alisson Becker from Roma it seems extremely likely that one of Lorius Karius or Simon Mignolet will leave the Reds this summer and speculation surrounding the duo’s futures could intensify this week.

According to a report in Bild, German giants Bayern Munich could be eyeing-up a move for the Reds ‘keeper as cover for Manuel Neuer.

It would represent a somewhat surprising move considering the error-prone nature of Karius but the report appears to suggest that a £10.7 million offer could be imminent from the Bundesliga champions.

Youngster to leave on loan

Young striker Ben Woodburn looks set to be a striker in demand this summer, particularly if Jurgen Klopp lets him go out on loan for the 2018/19 campaign.

It was claimed last week in the Sheffield Star, that Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder would potentially be interested in the 18-year-old but the boss did say that he would likely face competition for his temporary services.

It remains to be seen where Klopp sees Woodburn in his plans, but there is every possibility that this week could be the one where a decision is finally made on where he will play football next season.

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Does the arrival of Alisson make Liverpool genuine title contenders?

The Brazilian arrived for a £67 million fee this week.

Martyn Cooke



Photo: Getty Images

It is nearly 28 years since Liverpool last won a top-flight title in English football and it is fair to say that the club have struggled to match the exploits of their illustrious past during the Premier League era.

Supporters have had to be content watching from afar as Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have come to dominate the top flight of English football whilst Leicester City fans will take every opportunity to highlight their own unexpected title triumph three years ago.

It would be fair to say that Liverpool have not necessarily offered many genuine challenges for the Premier League title over the last two decades. Yes, there were near misses during the reigns Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers, but those exploits have been the exception rather than the rule.

The Reds have undoubtedly made significant progress under the stewardship of Jurgen Klopp over the previous two years and there has been a sense around Anfield that the charismatic German has been building a team capable of reaching the pinnacle of the domestic game.

Reaching the Champions League final last season, although ultimately ending in defeat, highlighted how far the team have come in a relatively short space of time.

(Photo by Filipp Monteforte/Getty Images)

However, there has also been a sense that Klopp has been missing a couple of crucial pieces of jigsaw as he developed his new-look Liverpool side.

His team produces exciting, dynamic and fast flowing football that results in plenty of goals and entertainment, yet this has often been undermined by defensive frailties.

Ask any supporter which two positions have needed strengthening and you are likely to receive the same two answers – central defence and goalkeeper.

The purchase of Virgil van Dijk in January for £75 million was a definitive signal of intent and more than adequately fulfilled the need for a dominant, commanding central defender.

The Dutchman was increasingly impressive during the second half of the season and everyone could acknowledge the positive impact that he had on the defensive unit.

The need for a goalkeeper was ruthlessly highlighted in the Champions League final in May.

Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet had shared goalkeeping duties over the previous two seasons but it was the German stopper that had emerged as the club’s number one.

However, two crucial mistakes in Kiev ultimately gifted Read Madrid the Champions League trophy whilst firmly highlighting Liverpool’s need for a world-class goalkeeper if they had any intention of challenging the best clubs in Europe.

Therefore, the arrival of Brazilian stopper Alisson this week from Roma in a £67 million deal comes as little surprise.

The 25-year-old was the leading goalkeeper in Serie A last season, no mean feat considering the presence of Gianluigi Buffon and Gianluigi Donnarumma in the top flight of Italian football.

He was also first choice for the national team in the summer at the 2018 World Cup in Russia where he was selected ahead of Manchester City stopper Ederson, further underlining how highly he is rated.

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

The final piece of the jigsaw?

Jurgen Klopp has now addressed the two key issues in the Liverpool team by purchasing the best goalkeeper and central defender that money could buy – both are world record fees for players in their position – in the last two transfer windows.

Is Alisson the final piece of the jigsaw that will facilitate a genuine title challenge from Liverpool this season? Supporters are certainly hoping imagine so.

The Reds now have a squad that is full of creativity and goals whilst also now, following the arrivals of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, being built on a strong defensive foundation. You already sense that there will be a much greater balance to the Liverpool team next season.

It is also worth noting that the importance of having a world class goalkeeper is often understated in the media.

Whilst a star striker who scores goals on a regular basis may be a more appealing sight, a good stopper is worth their weight in gold and can easily earn their side an extra 10 points per season if they produce crucial saves at vital moments.

It is hard to think of a Premier League winning side that did not possess a quality goalkeeper.

Last season Manchester City had Ederson. During their most successful period Chelsea had Petr Cech in his prime. Further back, the title successes masterminded by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United were based on the goalkeeping greatness of Edwin van der Saar and Peter Schmeichel.

Liverpool have undoubtedly made rapid progress under Klopp over the previous twelve months and the German has spent over £400 million since his appointment to build a team in his own image. Alisson is the final missing piece.

Manchester City may well have waltzed to the Premier League title last season but Liverpool have positioned themselves as the club most likely to challenge the champions in the forthcoming campaign.

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