Saturday 1 October 2016

The seven players playing for their futures at Liverpool

Mark Critchley

Published 23/03/2016 | 14:29

Liverpool are expected to offload a number of players in the summer
Liverpool are expected to offload a number of players in the summer

Ever since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield earlier this season, everyone has accepted that the squad at his disposal needs a major overhaul. Everyone, that is, except Jurgen Klopp.

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The Liverpool manager has insisted time and again that he had faith in the players he inherited from Brendan Rodgers and that faith has, by and large, paid off.

The Reds have, at times, played in a confident and assured manner, looking like a side capable of challenging for major honours.

At other times, however, they’ve been the same rag-tag mishmash of B+ players who are simply are not good enough in the final analysis.

Klopp’s confidence in this squad is admirable but it must be strengthened in the summer if they are to avoid another disappointing campaign next season.

With a top-four finish disappearing into the horizon, now is the time for Klopp to assess his options and for players on the fringes to prove to their manager that they can play a part in his first full season in charge.

Here are the players who may be in trouble....

1. Christian Benteke

The obvious place to start. Even in the early days, when he was at least scoring intermittently, last summer’s marquee signing has looked out of place at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp quite patently does not fancy him as anything but a ‘Plan B’. Liverpool would be wise to cash in on the Belgian before his market value falls through the floor.

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2. Alberto Moreno

The Spaniard must hate those 45 minutes he spends every week playing along the same touchline that his manager is standing on. Klopp bawling at Moreno, infuriated by his poor positioning and lapses in concentration, has become a regular sight at Anfield. Of all the players he inherited from Brendan Rodgers, the left-back seems to test Klopp’s patience the most and he’ll need to improve dramatically if he is to keep his starting berth for next season.

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3. Jordan Henderson

A surprising inclusion, maybe, but transfer whispers in recent weeks have suggested that Liverpool’s captain may have something to prove and, in a way, it all adds up. His main strength – box-to-box play – has been minimised by Klopp’s use of a No 10, he’s not as effective when sitting deep as Emre Can, his market value is high, he’s on a big contract and he may be permanently playing through pain for the rest of his career. Is he too good, too important to let go, or could Liverpool be tempted?

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4. Kolo Toure

A year ago, with his contract expiring in the summer, it was almost certain that this would be the defender’s last season at Anfield. Since Klopp’s arrival and that mid-season injury crisis, Toure has added substance to his cult hero status. His composed, mature performances have got supporters demanding he be awarded a new deal, though a stumbling block may be his sizeable wage.

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5. Jordon Ibe

Questions remain over whether the youngster has what is required to establish himself at Anfield. Moments of match-winning quality have been brief, disappointing and ineffective cameos far too frequent. He’s the only player in the squad to resemble a traditional winger and Klopp appears to prefer his wide-men to cut inside.

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6.  Joe Allen

All set for a new contract before Rodgers’ departure, the ‘Welsh Xavi’ now looks to be on his way out. His current deal expires in the summer of 2017 and, since Klopp’s arrival, his role has been scaled back to ‘squad player’. Is a return to former club Swansea City on the cards?

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7. Simon Mignolet

Ladbrokes currently have offs of 6/4 that Simon Mignolet will leave the Anfield club this summer. The Belgian signed a new five-year deal in January, which a lot of Liverpool fans found perplexing, but is howler prone and a stumbling block to the Reds reaching the next level.

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