Jürgen Klopp has transformed a number of players since his arrival in Merseyside but not every player in the squad has benefited from the German’s input. Whilst Liverpool have produced some exhilarating performances, reached a cup final and lined up a Europa League quarter-final clash against Borussia Dortmund (knocking Manchester United out in the process,) it’s not all perfect under Jürgen Klopp. Whilst there have been brilliant improvements under the German boss, there’s also been some players whose Liverpool careers seem to have stagnated in recent months. Here are just three of them…
Liverpool’s £35m man, Cristian Benteke, has made headlines this week after rumoured remarks he made about his experiences under Jürgen Klopp. Whether true or not, it’s clear that Klopp has chosen to ignore the services of Liverpool’s big summer buy and it’s been a popular decision amongst fans. In contrast, Origi, Benteke’s international teammate, has exploited his absence and consistently good performances have further dented Benteke’s return to first team action. With Sturridge’s return to fitness and Origi’s return to form, Benteke has been left side-lined in recent weeks and his position in the team has been compromised.
Since the start of the season, Benteke has made 35 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, but has seen a considerable drop in playing time since the beginning of January, coincidentally when Sturridge and then Origi returned to the frame. The decision to use Liverpool’s Brazilian star, Roberto Firmino, as a centre-forward ahead of Benteke on several occasions was also a huge statement from Jürgen Klopp and made it clear he was unhappy with the input of his Belgium forward. In the last ten Premier League games, Benteke has only started once and that came against West Ham United way back on the 2nd January. Despite having eight goals to his name, Benteke still has a lot to prove to push his way back into the side and with Origi and Firmino already taking their chances he may have missed his opportunity.
With the summer approaching and a new transfer window about to open, it’s not just Benteke’s future that has been in doubt in recent weeks. Liverpool’s respected captain and committed midfielder, Jordan Henderson, has been linked with a move to Tottenham and there’s been discussion on whether his sale would benefit the club.
Henderson was named the club’s vice-captain under Brendan Rodgers and was confirmed as Gerrard’s successor at the start of the 2014-15 season. His inclusion in the team is consistent and his work rate has always been praised. He possesses good qualities and fills part of the void left by Gerrard in Liverpool’s midfield. However, since suffering from a foot injury which saw him miss 15 games from September to December, his return has been underwhelming.
Joe Allen and Emre Can’s form under Jürgen Klopp has been impressive and the two are popular options for the German boss. Allen may only play a bit-part, often coming on as a substitute to change the game’s dynamics, but it’s clear he can provide good cover in midfield. Liverpool’s current vice-captain, James Milner, is often played alongside Henderson and Lucas as another option in midfield. Henderson’s position in the squad is comfortable but it’s not irreplaceable and that’s where the discussion on his future plays its part. He may be the captain, but even Klopp has admitted there’s always room for reshuffles and the captain isn’t exempt from that.
In comparison to Benteke, Henderson hasn’t been disappointing under Klopp; but whilst others around him have shown signs of improvement, Henderson’s injury woes and inconsistency have stagnated his progression. Despite being considered a regular for Liverpool, talks of his future could lead him to question his future in Klopp’s side.
Martin Skrtel’s performance in the second half of Liverpool’s defeat to Southampton was one of the worst from any in a red shirt this season. After coming on as a substitute for Lovren at half-time with Liverpool leading 2-0, he was almost single-handedly responsible for allowing a Southampton comeback and was punished when his side conceded three goals, throwing away victory in the process. His incompetence was on show for everyone to see but it’s not the first time he’s been exposed at centre-back for Liverpool in recent times.
The Slovakian was once the other half of a dynamic duo at the heart of Liverpool’s defence, alongside Daniel Agger. However, with age has come inconsistency and with experience has come complacency. It’s been a while since Liverpool had a centre-back to challenge his position but since the return to form of Dejan Lovren and the rise of Mamadou Sakho, the long-serving defender has seen himself out of favour for the most part of 2016 and his position under Jürgen Klopp has been questioned.
Skrtel hasn’t started a game for Liverpool since December 20th 2015 after injury forced him to miss games; he has since struggled to return to the frame. He missed Liverpool’s Capital One Cup final and was left out of the squad for the Europa League games against Manchester United. It’s clear he’s been out of form and the fact Kolo Toure has been chosen ahead of Skrtel on a few occasions this season signifies his struggles at Liverpool. With Liverpool’s defence being a major concern, it’ll be a department Klopp is expected to address primarily in the summer and Skrtel will no doubt be one of the first to be considered for a departure.