Another year, another season, another set of players facing make-or-break campaigns. The reasons might differ, but the consequences always remain the same. Either these players make it this year, or they’ll like be shipped out next summer or face an almost impossible climb to win back the trust of the fans. Here are three Liverpool players who will be gunning to make the grade or face a permanent move away from Anfield in the near future:
The £20 million man from Benfica has not done as much as Reds fans would have liked in his first season in England, but his potential and talent is there for all to see, and with recent trends of initially underperforming signings coming good, Markovic has every chance of succeeding this season.
With the departure of Raheem Sterling and no like-for-like replacement pursued, the Serbian youngster’s route to a first-team spot is blocked by one less attacking player. Markovic is unlikely to challenge new marquee signing Roberto Firmino for a first-team spot, seeing that the Brazilian international is more of a no.10 rather than a winger. Should Jurgen Klopp opt for 4-2-3-1, it is more likely that Markovic will be up against Jordon Ibe and Adam Lallana for the last attacking slot behind the striker.
markovic scoring the first of his two goals last season
Markovic did contribute to a thrilling victory over Tottenham Hotspur as an attacking midfielder, scoring the opener in a 3-2 win, while the ex-Chelsea target also scored an early winner at Sunderland as he shined at right wing-back. Markovic has shown his versatility and willingness to adapt to the hustle and bustle of English football, but he needs to be more brave on the ball and drive at opposition full-backs on a more consistent basis. The Serb would do well to emulate the confidence displayed by the fearless Ibe. If so, Markovic will be more than able to up his goal tally and firmly be part of Klopp’s plans for the next few years.
Having signed as a 14-year old from Bradford City, Wisdom has shined throughout all the age groups and should be starting to make waves in the first-team. However in recent seasons, Wisdom has had to contend with competition from the likes of Martin Kelly, now at Crystal Palace, and last season’s revelation Jon Flanagan for first-team spots. Wisdom got Championship experience with Derby County two years ago, before a mixed loan spell with West Bromwich Albion giving him vital Premier League experience, as he managed 24 appearances at the Hawthorns, mostly at right-back.
With Flanagan out injured till the end of the year and left-back Jose Enrique set to leave, Wisdom will now be eyeing either full-back position in a bid for more game time at Anfield. The arrival of Charlton’s Joe Gomez has resulted in more competition for defensive spots, but Wisdom will seek to use his relatively greater top flight experience to his advantage. Wisdom will likely start the season understudying new signing Nathaniel Clyne for a right-back berth, Alberto Moreno for an unfamiliar left-back slot, as well as being the club’s fourth choice centre-back.
wisdom’s athleticism and physicality will do well with greater tactical awareness
Wisdom’s versatility is, as always, a help and a hindrance. His career will likely go down the route of ex-Manchester United utility defender John O’Shea – like O’Shea, Wisdom can play in defensive midfield if need be. He could be the one Klopp turn to at the first sign of an injury crisis in defence, but it is unlikely that Wisdom will be able to usurp any of the current first choice back four just yet. Wisdom will need to show he is worthy of his Liverpool place, lest the fate of Kelly awaits him.
Joâo Carlos Teixeira
Picking just one more was difficult, with Dejan Lovren a very likely candidate as well. However, Teixeira takes this last place. It may seem harsh at first, but the reality is plain simple, Teixeira has to prove his worth or he will not break into the first-team. Much like ex-Reds playmaker Suso, who is now at AC Milan, Teixeira will have to show that he can mix it up in the physical Premier League in order to be given a chance at Anfield for the seasons ahead.
A graduate from the famed Sporting Lisbon academy, Teixeira has shined brightly throughout Liverpool’s under-21 and under-18 sides. However, unlike Suso, the young Portuguese had taken the wise decisions to have loan spells in the English lower leagues, with a short stint at Brantford and last season’s season-long loan with Brighton, where he managed a decent tally of six goals in 32 games. Teixeira did make an impact in the title challenge of 2013/14, where in his sole appearance, he came off the bench to supply the key pass for Daniel Sturridge to win the game-winning penalty that was dispatched by Steven Gerrard.
teixeira shined in his sole senior appearance so far
His dribbling and skill on the ball is very similar to current Reds star Philippe Coutinho, with his low centre of gravity and constant shimmying a major part of his game as well. Rodgers should keep Teixeira at Anfield this season, allowing him to understudy Coutinho and even provide cover for the Brazilian. The Portuguese might even benefit from Sterling’s departure, with a slight increase in likelihood of getting more minutes. At the minimum, if and when Teixeira is called up for a League Cup or Europa League fixture, or as a substitute in the league itself, he will have to show more consistent glimpses of his undoubted quality so as to cement his place in the team for the immediate future.