Jordan Henderson is a solid midfielder and the captain of Liverpool, but he is facing an uncertain future, as the Reds continue to develop under Jurgen Klopp. Last season, he played 24 times for the club and it was only when injury hit that he was forced out of the starting eleven. He remained first choice when he was fit and he delivered a level of consistency that meant he contributed without ever standing out. However, the 27-year-old is facing a fight on his hands as we approach the new season, as the transfer business being conducted at Anfield suggests a change of style is on the horizon.
Although he is the club captain, it is likely that Henderson will be one of the players that will suffer as a result of the players coming in. The signing of Mohamed Salah hints that Klopp is going to change to a 4-4-2 diamond formation with the Egyptian leading the line with Sadio Mane. The two dynamic forwards would be expected to split and run the channels, creating space for the midfielders to exploit. Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can are likely to take up three of the midfield spots, which leaves only one. Klopp wants to sign Naby Keita to fill that position, but even if they don’t manage to sign him, it wouldn’t go to Henderson. Gini Wijnaldum will also be competing for a first team place and he is better suited to the Reds’ style.
Klopp has become known for his style of play as it is high energy and exciting to watch. Liverpool played some of the best football in the Premier League last season and they will be even better when the new campaign begins as their German coach continues to push forward. The signing of Salah and potential signing of Naby Keita show that the Reds want to move towards a far more fluid system, which will be difficult to pigeonhole with a formation.
Every player will need to be athletic and capable of reading the game to realise the position that they should be taking up at any given time. Klopp demands that his players press from the front and that leaves gaps for the opposite side to take up. This is why the team need to have a high tactical understanding as each individual’s role is ever changing based on the position they are taking up and where the ball currently is. Keita is regarded as an excellent presser and he can play a number of different midfield roles, which make him perfect for Klopp. If Liverpool manage to sign him, it could spell the end for Henderson.
It is difficult to state whether Henderson has a future, as we remain in the summer months and a lot can change before the season kicks off. The club captain may impress his coach during pre-season or the chase for Keita may fail, leaving them with no choice but to persist with Henderson. That said, he isn’t as mobile as the other midfielders in the squad and he has his limitations on the ball, which prevents him from playing at the high tempo that Klopp wants.
The next few weeks will tell us a lot and if Klopp does move Henderson into a supporting role, it will be a huge call, as he is the current club captain. Regardless of his ability or style of play, he is a big character in the dressing room and the German coach could risk a revolt if his decision does turn out to be the wrong one.