A former Liverpool midfielder has identified the “main culprit” behind the Reds’ woes this season, and has urged Jurgen Klopp to sign a Newcastle star who’ll provide something they lack.
Liverpool had won four straight in the league either side of the World Cup break, though hopes they were over the issues that plagued their early-season were dashed against Brentford.
Klopp’s side were outthought and outfought against the Bees. Brentford punished Liverpool from many a corner, though the set pieces only came following attack after attack the Reds’ midfield could not help stifle.
The middle of the pitch is where Liverpool have struggled most this season. Klopp has repeatedly bemoaned the fact those he selects in the engine room aren’t applying enough pressure to opposition ball carriers.
That in turn allows opposing players time and space to pick out a pass and the end result is Liverpool’s high line continuing to get exposed.
Now, speaking to talkSPORT, former Liverpool midfielder, Didi Hamann, pointed the finger of blame squarely at Fabinho.
Hamann labelled the Brazilian the “main culprit” behind Liverpool’s struggles, and even suggested Thiago is a luxury player the Reds cannot afford to field in their current guise.
“I think game management was always one of their strengths, they always knew what to do at the right time,” said Hamann.
“But obviously, you depend on players being in-form, and the main culprit I’d say is probably Fabinho because he’s not been that defensive shield that he has been over the last few years.
“When the back-four haven’t got any protection then you obviously give away chances. They’ve got two very offensive full-backs, we know that, so it’s even more important that the middle is solid.
“Fabinho has not been the same for the last six or seven months, and in Thiago they’ve got a player who likes to play with the ball, and I don’t think Liverpool is good enough at the moment to have Thiago in their team.”
Liverpool urged to sign important Newcastle regular
Liverpool are expected to address their midfield dilemma at some stage in 2023. Jude Bellingham remains their primary target.
However, with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita all off contract at season’s end, multiple additions will be required.
On that subject, Hamann urged Liverpool to pounce for Newcastle midfielder Joelinton.
The Brazilian was initially an enigma following his £40m arrival from Hoffenheim in 2019. He was signed to play up front, though has since been morphed into a box-to-box midfielder and is a huge part of everything Newcastle now do well.
Hamann stressed Liverpool’s midfield lacks a physical presence, something a move for Joelinton would rectify.
“It depends on what Fabinho does over the next couple of months or probably until the end of the season,” Hamann added.
“I think if Fabinho doesn’t pick up, they probably need a holding midfielder, and then I think they need an offensive midfielder.
“I’ve always looked at a player like Joelinton, I think they need a physical presence in midfield.
“I think they’ve got a lot of players in midfield, they’re all pretty similar, they can all handle the ball, they’re technically very gifted, but I also think they need a physical presence, especially in the Premier League.
“If Fabinho doesn’t pick up, I would say a defensive midfielder and somebody who gets a goal from midfield.”
Joelinton is under contract at St. James’ Park until 2025 and there’s no indication Eddie Howe would be receptive to a sale.
What’s more, the Magpies might be able to offer Champions League football next season. The same might not be true at Anfield if Liverpool’s misery continues.
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