The speculation over who will replace Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain points firmly in the direction of current Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson.
The 24-year-old has performed consistently well so far this season and his maturity is there for all too see, making him an ideal candidate to replace Gerrard when the 34-year-old departs for LA Galaxy.
Henderson does not have the same level of ability as Steven Gerrard. Although he has shown glimpses of exceptional quality in his time at Anfield so far, he will not be the same player Gerrard was for Liverpool. This is largely because the two midfielders differentiate in terms of style of play. They do share their similarities in terms of passing and positioning but Henderson does not carry the same forward-thinking threat that has made Gerrard such a pivotal figure for Liverpool over the years.
Although Henderson won’t become the ‘new’ Gerrard, he has the capabilities to make the captain’s armband his own. He has grown into his Liverpool career since he arrived from Sunderland for £20million in 2011, with many claiming that the price tag for the midfielder was too excessive. However, since the move from the Stadium of Light, Henderson has been an ever-present in Liverpool’s midfield and was excellent throughout last season when Liverpool came so close to winning their first Premier League title.
Henderson clearly has the potential to become a good Liverpool captain in the future. He will look to exert his authority if he is given the armband but at times this season, he has failed to be more assertive in Gerrard’s absence. For example, the controversy surrounding Mario Balotelli’s decision to take a vital penalty in Liverpool’s Europa League tie against Besiktas highlights the fact that Henderson needs to be more assertive on the field of play. Liverpool won a penalty late in the game and it was agreed that Henderson would be Liverpool’s penalty taker due to the absence of Steven Gerrard.
Despite this, Mario Balotelli insisted on taking the penalty and it caused some confusion on the pitch between the players, as Henderson looked to the bench in confusion. Balotelli subsequently scored the penalty-kick but it showed, in Gerrard’s words, ‘disrespect’ to Jordan Henderson. If Henderson wants to become Liverpool’s new captain, he needs to take control of situations like the one against Besiktas.
There is no doubt that the England midfielder will learn from this but Rodgers needs his midfielder to adapt quickly to the captain’s role, as Gerrard will soon be departing the club.
Overall, Henderson undoubtedly does a good job for Liverpool when he is given the captain’s responsibility. It is unfair to expect Henderson to ooze the same aura that Steven Gerrard possessed throughout his time at Liverpool but there is no doubt that the former Sunderland man can adapt to the role if he is given an opportunity.
As Henderson continues to grow and develop as a top Premier League midfielder, it won’t be long before he is aiming to enjoy similar success as Liverpool’s future long-term captain.