He was the guy who graced thousands of Fantasy league teams. The man who would defend like a spartan, burst forward down the right flank, whipping in crosses all game and scoring one or two every now and then.
Nathaniel Clyne…. of Southampton Football Club.
It was his outstanding pace, defensive solidity and brilliant attacking instincts which caught the eye of Liverpool FC. After having had Glen Johnson faffing on the right side of the back line for years, it had seemed, at that time, that Liverpool had finally grabbed someone that would solve some of the then blatant holes in the team.
On 1 July 2015, Liverpool confirmed the signing of Clyne from Southampton for £12.5 million on a five-year contract.
Fans were ecstatic. The manager was too. All was RIGHT with the world.
Fast forward two years later and all those previous accolades seem mythical, to say the least. Gone is the assists, the defensive securities, and any semblance of the player he was.
There seems to be a debate currently between Liverpool fans on whether he is bad or badly misjudged.
One fan even took the time to document [in video form] Clyne’s role in goals conceded this season. The evidence is rather scathing.
Many are saying it’s time for Trent Alexander-Arnold to get a chance at right-back. The youngster has done brilliantly since making the step up to the 1st team and has been among the goals and assists for England Under 19s in recent times.
When Clyne does get forward he tends to go for the safe option, mostly opting for a cut back [which rarely reaches a target] or a tame floating cross [which rarely reaches the target].
It has gotten so bad that in recent times teams have opted to let the “England right-back” go free seeing as no danger comes from anything he does nowadays.
Injuries to key players throughout the season may have forced Klopp to focus on those areas more in terms of finding solutions. A good example was Trent Alexander-Arnold coming on as a sub for in the Merseyside derby and playing at right half, a job he did with great enthusiasm and almost saw the youngster getting on the score sheet. It also allowed Clyne to keep his place at right-back.
Now with the injury to star man Sadio Mane, Klopp may deploy TAA in the right midfield role in this last stretch of the season. But there is hope for Clyne. In a moment that shocked everyone against Bournemouth on Wednesday, he struck a ferocious shot that smashed the crossbar, and had another shot sail far, wide, and not at all handsome. But it does show that he has the capacity to improvise and improve. He needs to watch videos of his old performances for Southampton again, back in the days when he would try shots from long range, cross the ball with speed and ferocity and be a constant threat down that right flank.
He needs to do so quickly, or else it is quite likely he will be one of the many casualties in a summer where Liverpool will definitely be strengthening.