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Liverpool captain Henderson gives up on top four



Liverpool captain Henderson gives up on top four

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson played down their top four hopes after victory over Fulham.

The 1-0 win has Liverpool four points outside the top four, though having played two games more than fourth-place Manchester United.

Henderson said, “It’s always difficult to win games in the Premier League. Five on the spin is very good. We’ve shown more consistency. We need to continue that until the end of the season and carry it on into next season too. A clean sheet is something we’ve been looking for.”

On applying pressure on the top four, he added: “I doubt it. I think if you look at who is ahead of us, they are very good and quite far ahead.

“I think we’re just thinking about us and our performance levels. Hopefully we can be a lot more consistent when we come back after the summer.”


Jude Bellingham just handed Liverpool new test as Jürgen Klopp must navigate transfer’first’

Jürgen Klopp appeared to hit a ceiling of sorts in 2018. The German coach had been in charge of Liverpool for almost three years by that stage, yet he had struggled to deliver any silverware and the best finish that he could achieve in the Premier League seemed to be fourth.

The Reds looked well-coached, intense and difficult to compete against, but two problem areas stood between Liverpool and success at the pinnacle of the sport, with the first addressed in the winter transfer window. Although Klopp had fostered improvement on Merseyside, he was forced to manage central defenders who simply weren’t of an elite standard, with Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan prone to making costly errors.

An authoritative center-back was required from the transfer market, but Liverpool didn’t just want anybody, it wanted a transformational player in the form of Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman was captain of Southampton at the time, but he had showcased that he was deserving of a higher level, with Klopp making the surprise move to dedicate a record-breaking transfer fee to his signature.

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Van Dijk was deemed to be worth the investment because of his influence on the pitch, and he quickly justified Liverpool’s patience, making a huge difference to Klopp’s back four while also having a notable impact when attacking and defending set-pieces, largely due to his 1.93m frame.

The Dutch international was worth the wait, and next on the agenda was the goalkeeping department, which consisted of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. Neither player seemed to be good enough to secure the biggest honors in the sport, a point brutally exposed in Kyiv, which is why Klopp eventually grew interested in an upgrade.

Again, though, the Reds boss didn’t just want anybody, he wanted a transformational player, and Alisson Becker was identified as the answer. The Brazilian number one had just experienced an outstanding campaign representing AS Roma, but as a consequence, he would be expensive in the market.

Liverpool remained interested despite the price tag attached to the South American goalkeeper, and just six months after landing Van Dijk, they picked up Alisson for yet another record-breaking transfer fee. The two moves were somewhat out of character for FSG, but the duo were regarded as ‘transformers’ because of their respective impacts on performances and results.

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Since, they have shown themselves to be worth every cent, but that was five years ago, and the time has come once again for Klopp to search for a transformer to solve a major concern. This time, the problem doesn’t lie in his defense or his goalkeeping department; it is all about midfield.

James Milner is now aged 37, with Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcântara both aged 32. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta are both out of contract at the end of the campaign, and Fabinho — despite being aged 29 — has played more like a 35-year-old who is beyond his peak this term. Sure enough, in game time terms, the Brazilian has accumulated as many minutes as a typical veteran.

Jude Bellingham was identified as the midfield transformer that Klopp needs, but new reports from Spain (per Marca) suggest the Borussia Dortmund wonderkid will join Real Madrid this summer, with Liverpool having to dedicate its transfer budget to multiple players in the coming months, rather than acquiring one marquee name.

Jude Bellingham, linked with a Liverpool transfer for so long, now looks like he may be bound for Real Madrid.

It already seemed as though Liverpool would miss out on Bellingham, but confirmation of his next club would be the nail in the coffin. And it could set up a transfer ‘first’ for Klopp.

Alexis Mac Allister, Mason Mount and Ryan Gravenberch are just three of the players who have been tipped for moves to Anfield of late, all of whom would be potentially good options. Nonetheless, this summer, it seems Klopp will have to do what he has never done before at Liverpool. For arguably the first time since his appointment on English shores, the 55-year-old will have to fix a major weakness without the aid of a transformational addition.

It remains to be seen how Klopp will fare when trying to build in the aggregate what he cannot buy outright, but it is reasonable to suggest that he’s on the verge of entering the biggest summer window of his managerial careers