09/07/2021; 9:11 AM By : Steven D. Thompson
Georginio Wijnaldum’s departure has left Liverpool without a dependable midfielder. Wijnaldum’s greatest asset was perhaps his availability. He was consistent and intelligent over the last few seasons, and his transfer to PSG has left Jurgen Klopp’s boys vulnerable in the midfield.
Wijnaldum played for 38 games in PL, more than any of his teammates in the midfield during 2020/21. The Reds played 53 matches in the last season for a total of 4470 minutes. Should they play the Champions League quarter-finals and two rounds at both the League Cup and FA CUP this year, Liverpool will be playing 52 matches.
If they reach the finals, they’ll have to play over 63 games, which amounts to a massive 5670 minutes. Should Liverpool play in 4-3-3, they must cover 4680 minutes in every midfield position this year. Over the past couple of years, the average game time per midfielder in their lineup was Fabinho (3106 minutes), Henderson (2626 minutes), and Thiago (2867 minutes).
This means Liverpool has to meet the deficit in the midfield this season. However, none of their current players is getting any younger. While James Miller is dependable, his availability throughout the season is a concern. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, and Xherdian Shaqiri all have injuries preventing them from playing over 2000 minutes last year.
If each of the four midfielders stays at the club and plays for 1000 minutes or 11 full games, Curtis Jones could pick up the slack. However, if any player is injured in the meantime, Jones will have to put in the extra work. Jones’ highest playtime so far is 1952 minutes, and a similar contribution this season would suffice if things go according to plan.
Also, a possible transfer of Renato Sanches will be a promising back-up plan for the Reds for the next season.
Major injuries during the initial part of the season can have long-lasting implications for the squad, and Liverpool is aware of the repercussions. And as the numbers prove, a lot rests on Curtis Jones this year. Liverpool banked on Fabinho to get them through the last season. However, the plan fell apart in January. Jones is the failsafe this year, and Liverpool is desperate to avoid a rerun at any cost.