This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking to BBC Sport, former Liverpool star Xabi Alonso has hailed Jordan Henderson and insisted he remains a “very important” part of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The England international has had his critics over the years about his inclusion in the Reds’ line-up, but Alonso has leapt to the Liverpool captain’s defence.
He said: “Jordan Henderson has become a figure in the changing room. I think he’s so respected, so important for his teammates – that’s the sense I get from watching in the stands. For the way they play it’s very important, the energy he has.
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“He’s able to take that step forwards, not backwards to make that pressure a bit higher. The way he connects with the three players up front, they play very direct and the way Liverpool is playing is the Jurgen way – the way they played at Dortmund with him and the way they play at Liverpool now.”
People questioning whether Henderson should be included in the team almost implies a disagreement with Klopp’s methods. The German has been an unequivocal supporter of what the 29-year-old offers the side, and that quite frankly should be enough for those who seek to question it.
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Last season, the former Sunderland ace averaged an impressive 1.6 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game during the Reds’ run to Champions League triumph, and often did the dirty work for his side. The likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are always likely to take the plaudits going forward, but Henderson’s industry and willingness to put the team’s needs first are just as important. The perfect symbol of an under-rated player.
He may not fill Steven Gerrard’s shoes, but who on Earth can? The current skipper will leave big enough shoes to fill of his own.