Following the signings of Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Stuart Downing and the improved form of Lucas Leiva, some Liverpool fans have even questioned where the legendary King of the Kop now fits into the side. It is true that Liverpool were far more productive on the pitch after Gerrard got injured last season and the ambitious team have now signed and developed some talented younger match winners in his place. Last season Dalglish managed to turn around a team of underachievers into one that finished in 6th place in the league all without their inspirational captain who has been out of the team since March.
It is a notion that borders on the sacrilegious to say that Liverpool could sell Gerrard, but it stems from the club’s willingness to sell their valuable assets like Fernando Torres in the last year. Looking back that appears to be the right decision after receiving £50m for a player who has only scored twice since he left Anfield and replacing him with the brilliant Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll which is looking like an inspired decision by the owners.
However even if the owners decided against all odds to sell Gerrard, who would pay big money for 31-years-old who is rarely fit for a full season? The likes of oil-rich Anzhi Makhachkala have been linked with a big-money move for the midfielder and they would be willing to pay him £13m a year. Despite this paper talk it seems likely that Gerrard will turn down the chance to add sizeable sums to their pension funds and finish his career at his beloved Anfield but will he still play such an influential role in the side in the next few years?
It may well be the case that the Steven Gerrard of old, who attempted to pull off the spectacular rather than finding a colleague in a better position, does not fit in Dalglish new-look side and formation. Despite this I still think he has a role to play in the team.
Liverpool’s inept performance in central midfield against Tottenham at the weekend demonstrated where Gerrard is still required and he could now feature in a deeper holding position which would permit him to dominate games again while allowing the bright young talents to go ahead of him to go and play. It seems the natural development for an injury prone player who came into the starting eleven at a youthful age and probably won’t have the legs to keep on running forever.
Liverpool manager’s in the past had built the Liverpool team around the match winner Gerrard but Dalglish will be reluctant to change his successful formation to fit in the captain and instead he may have to slot into the current set-up. Although I think he could still play in the second striker role behind Luis Suarez which had been so effective before with Torres and this is something that Kenny will be considering especially with the poor recent form of Andy Carroll.
Gerrard is certainly going through a transitional period on the pitch and after a long lay-out with his groin injury it will be interesting to see where he plays and if he is back to his imperious best tonight. I think he could take steps to lengthen his career at Anfield by retiring from the international team this season which seemed to have worked for Paul Scholes at Manchester United. Scholes had still been one of the most consistent performers after he changed his role where he sat deeper in the side so he could orchestrate United’s play. Gerrard could take on a similar role alongside Lucas, providing the platform for the youngsters in front of him to play without restraint.
Of course Gerrard will still be the gifted midfielder who can take games by the scuff of the neck and inspire his Liverpool side but this sort of natural change in his game will help him stay fit while also give him the chance to become the driving force behind success at Anfield for many years to come.
Let me know your thoughts and give me a follow on twitter @aidanmccartney for more discussion about the beautiful game.
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