Comparing current player with those of the past are just one of the many things fans indulge in. And that’s no different at Anfield – the most frequent of which is whether current captain Jordan Henderson can ever fill his predecessor’s shoes, one Steven Gerrard no less! The arrival of Dejan Lovren a year after the retirement of Jamie Carragher gave the Croatian international the unenviable task of trying to replace Liverpool’s one-club legend.
With that said, here are three other current stars who have striking similarities to Kop favourites of the past:
Adam Lallana / Maxi Rodriguez
Signed by Rafa Benitez in January 2010, the former Argentine international was initially a source of frustration among Reds supporters due to his lack of pace and unnecessary dwelling on the ball. His Anfield career did kick into life six months later, and he ended his first full season with 10 league goals. The 2010/11 season proved to be Maxi Rodriguez’s best season at the club as he subsequently faded and left at the end of the next season.
Like Maxi, Adam Lallana arrived at Anfield as a wide midfielder, boasting excellent ball retention ability and a knack for his well-timed runs into the opposition’s box. And similar to the Argentine winger, Lallana did not have much pace to burn, instead relying on his elusive body shimmies to get away from opposition markers.
Having failed to impress Reds supporters during his first two seasons at Anfield, the attacking midfielder has sparked to life under Jurgen Klopp this season, who has managed to bring out Lallana’s qualities in a deeper-lying midfield position.
Nathaniel Clyne / Steve Finnan
Right-back Steve Finnan proved to be an absolute bargain buy for Gerard Houllier, and then Benitez, giving Liverpool five highly consistent years – at times even from right midfield. He was supremely dependable and was a major part of Benitez’s 2005 Champions League-winning side, and saw off the challenge of Josemi and Jan Kromkamp before being usurped by current West Ham United full-back Alvaro Arbeloa during the 2007/08 campaign.
Finnan provided the perfect balance of defensive solidity and offensive threat from the right wing, one which Liverpool has not enjoyed ever since his departure. Arbeloa was solid in defence but provided little going forward, while Glen Johnson was a brilliant attacking force but highly susceptible at the back.
The arrival of Nathaniel Clyne last year has finally put this problem to bed. Clyne might not have the ability to play as a right midfielder like Finnan once did, but the England international is certainly one of the best right-backs in Europe, simply a specialist in his preferred position. Clyne’s superior pace to Finnan allows him to gain ground on opposition attackers he loses on the rare occasion, while his ability to link-up with whoever is in the right side attacking role makes him a valuable clog in this Liverpool side. Clyne is certainly deserving of succeeding Finnan’s ‘Mr Consistent’ tag.
Philippe Coutinho / Luis Garcia or Yossi Benayoun
The former Israeli captain was essentially a direct replacement for Liverpool’s Champions League-winning midfielder. Although both lacked the pace to run in behind defenders, both were very skilfully on the ball, always looked for the killer pass, and were sometimes considered luxury players who needed the team somewhat built around them. A great source of frustration most of the time, Luis Garcia could not match Benayoun’s consistency, but made up for it with several moments of brilliance which Benayoun lacked.
In a way, Philippe Coutinho was Brendan Rodgers’ answer to Benitez’s astute playmaker signings in 2004 and 2007. Just as both Luis Garcia and Benayoun usually started from the left side, Coutinho has made the left-sided attacking midfield position his own. The Brazilian’s start to life at Anfield mirrored that of Luis Garcia, moments of inspiration peppered around seemingly perpetual inconsistency. However, in recent times and this season, Coutinho has started to show the consistency once displayed by Benayoun.
Coutinho has become a good mix of both former playmakers, combining the audacity of Luis Garcia and the determination of Benayoun. But unlike how the careers of both Luis Garcia and Benayoun was arguably at its pinnacles at Liverpool, the Brazilian still has much room to grow his career at Anfield and push on for major honours.
Other honourable mentions: Roberto Firmino / Dirk Kuyt; Joel Matip / Sami Hyypia; Alberto Moreno / John Arne Riise.
Do you agree with these three? Should the other mentions be highlighted? Tell us in the comments section below!