Does Jordan Henderson get into Liverpool’s starting XI next season?

There is no doubt that Jordan Henderson will go down as a Liverpool legend but will he find himself on the bench come the 2021/22 season?
Publish date:

The Liverpool captain has come on leaps and bounds since joining the reds ten years ago and has became a mainstay in midfield. 

Henderson’s stamina related ability has been a vital part of Jurgen Klopp’s pressing orientated tactics since the German manager became the Liverpool head coach. 

Jordan Henderson Trent Alexander-Arnold

Jordan Henderson and Trant Alexander-Arnold

However, a change of tactics could be on the cards for Liverpool which could put Henderson’s starting place in jeopardy. 

Jurgen Klopp has been tinkering with his formation of choice over the past two season with a 4-2-3-1 being deployed on occasion with preference over the ever reliable 4-3-3. 

The former only has space for two midfielders to operate in a pivot behind an attacking quartet which obviously leaves one midfielder from the usual three being left out. 

The change in formation could be the defining factor in Henderson’s playtime in the upcoming season as his footballing ability is likely to fail in comparison to Liverpool’s other options.

Over the past few seasons, Fabinho has proved he may be the most important midfielder that Liverpool have available with his defence attributes being vital to the entire team’s playing style. 

Being the best defensive midfielder in the world means that Fabinho’s starting place is untouchable. The Brazilian being in the side makes the team a better defensive unit and less vulnerable when losing possession after a failed attack. 

This leaves one space left in the middle of the park to pair with Fabinho.

Thiago has the ability to dictate play like no other. The Picasso of passing took some time to settle into the Liverpool side but once he became comfortable playing so close to River Mersey, the Spaniard became unplayable.

The Tàpies of tiki taka became one of the most valuable players come the end of the previous season with his passes often being the key to breaking down low block defences. 

Liverpool midfielders B.T. (before Thiago) tended to fit into the role of running being their best attribute but the arrival of Thiago seems to have been the catalyst of change. 

Liverpool being able to deploy a pivot of Fabinho and Thiago has potential to be what drives this side forward onto another title charge.

This, of course, is all theoretical; Klopp may not change his formation and that would leave three spots in the midfield giving Henderson a better chance to making it into the side. 

However, there still will be competition for that final spot. The rumour mill has Liverpool looking to sign a few new faces this summer which could create even more struggle for starting places. 

Fabinho Thiago Salah

Fabiniho and Thiago celebrate with Mohamed Salah

Let’s have a look at how new signings could hinder Henderson.

A new attacking signing could cement the change into the 4-2-3-1 formation as this allows for more attacking options in the starting 11. 

It is unlikely that Liverpool will sign a marquee attacker for the bench whilst having Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota in the ranks. 

Having five elite attackers would all but confirm the change into the new formation.

A new midfield signing would bring more competition to the Liverpool captain. As of yet, no world class midfield players have been linked to the Reds but with Gini Wijnaldum leaving, it may not be long until we see a midfield maestro arrive for a Blackpool meeting.

Georginio Wijnaldum Jurgen Klopp

Georginio Wijnaldum looks on with Jurgen Klopp

Now obviously Jordan Henderson is the captain so it would seem his place in the team is locked down. 

But when we look at his playing ability, does the former FWA player of the season merit a place in the team? Henderson does not often bring goals or assists to the side but this isn’t an issue per say due to the Fab Four up front. 

When comparing the Sunderland native to the other options, his passing does not compare to Thiago and his defensive side does not compare to Fabinho which leaves Henderson no place in the two man midfield. 

In a three man midfield, the third man should really be more attack minded to better suit the aforementioned pair which again, rules out Henderson.

I assume readers will argue that Henderson’s leadership qualities make up for his average playing ability but that poses another question. 

Don’t we already have enough leaders on the pitch? In a full strength Liverpool side (not including Henderson), the Reds have the captain/vice captain (Salah, van Dijk, Robertson, Mané) of four National sides. 

Andy Robertson during the win at Sheffield United

Andy Robertson looks on for Liverpool

So that begs the question, is that not enough leadership in one side? Should Henderson really be in the side because of his leadership or should players of a better footballing ability start?

I am a supporter of Jordan Henderson, I appreciate what he has done for Liverpool and I respect this man immensely. 

This article doesn’t mean I believe he should leave Liverpool. I just understand that Liverpool has better options to get the best results possible.