Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be desperately scrambling to find the solution to the club’s woes following a campaign bereft of the cohesion, fluidity and intensity which have previously gone in tandem with the embedded DNA under the German manager at Anfield.
Recent woeful defeats to Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, sandwiched by a disappointing 2-2 draw in the FA Cup against Wolverhampton Wanderers – with the Reds fielding a full-strength side and the Old Gold ushering in heavy rotation – have created a sense of overt trepidation when considering the immediate future of the Merseyside club.
The intensity has been sapped like life from a flower in a blizzard, with Liverpool indeed flailing in the bitter cold, and the once-industrious midfield now struggles to take the reins and dictate the play almost every time they takes to the pitch, being outworked and outplayed all too often.
Club captain Jordan Henderson has been a discernible culprit, with the 32-year-old no longer the dogged and unwavering bundle of energy he once was. Klopp might duly be forced to delve into the transfer market for a solution, and Wolves’ Ruben Neves could be the man for the job.
According to The Mirror, the Portuguese powerhouse could tempt Liverpool to delve back into the transfer market this month, having already signed forward Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven for an initial £35m, with Neves’ contract up for expiry at the end of the 2023/24 campaign.
The “outstanding” Neves – as hailed by Tim Spiers – is an endearing figure in the Midlands, captivating onlookers with his technical prowess and imposing physicality, merging elegance with grit to serve as a centrepiece for the club’s endeavours since winning the Championship five years ago with a stunning 99-point haul and retaining their top-flight status ever since.
Making 235 appearances so far for Wolves, the £58k-per-week Neves has scored 28 goals and provided 12 assists from the heart of the team, indeed conducting the play with his innate ball-playing prowess and tuned footballing intellect.
This season, the 25-year-old has four goals from 18 Premier League matches, which could prove pivotal in the fight to stave off the threat of relegation with his industrious presence, dogged determination and supreme breaking of the play in midfield.
Should he sign for Liverpool, who desperately need a remedy in that position, he could inject the grit which has evaporated from the likes of Fabinho and make the Reds formidable opponents again.
The £140k-per-week Henderson encapsulates the woes beset upon Liverpool at present. As per Sofascore, his match averages of 0.9 tackles, 0.3 clearances and 0.7 interceptions compare feebly to Neves’, with the Wolves star chalking up 2.6 tackles, 2.4 clearances and 1.4 interceptions per game.
This might seem like it’s due to the disparity in quality between the two teams, but the apparent gulf is actually little more than a mark in the ground. Alisson has had to make 63 saves in the league this term compared to Jose Sa’s 55, with Wolves only shipping two more goals than the beleaguered Reds – an illumination of the defensive frailties plaguing this Liverpool team at present.
If Neves can inspire Wolves to what wouldn’t be a surprising win over the Merseysiders tonight and if Henderson is all too quiet again, the time may have come for Klopp to consider phasing out his captain with a swoop for the Portuguese dynamo.