There are quite a few players that can fall into the “ones that got away” category for Liverpool. Quite a few that, even despite leaving for other clubs, conjure feelings of warm nostalgia. It’s pretty safe to say none more so than Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso. Steven Gerrard’s favorite midfield partner left the club for Real Madrid in 2009 but has been an ardent Liverpool supporter since his time spent with the club, even now that he has moved to Bayern Munich. The club had a few words with him leading up to Monday’s iconic clash against rivals Manchester United, and while he also spoke about watching the matchup itself, he also had nothing but praise for the player who would inherit his shirt number.
“Jordan has so much energy, he plays well and he’s very complete. Not just as a holding midfielder, he’s able to get closer to the box. He’s becoming a very important player,” said Alonso, of captain Jordan Henderson. Alonso also played the holding position in his time in Red so he’s well aware of the demands Henderson faces now that Klopp has moved him to a deeper position - to outstanding results.
“You need to adapt to your team and teammates, and the opponent as well,” the Spaniard continued. “It’s different when you play a game against a team that tries to play or a team that wants to play long balls and you need to be more focused on the second ball or try to be more physical. The more complete you are, the better you will adapt for the long season. Henderson does it very well.”
The glowing reviews didn’t stop there, as Alonso also praised Henderson’s leadership qualities and role as captain for the team.
“It’s not just the performances on the pitch, from the outside it looks like he has taken the leading role in the changing room. After Stevie [Gerrard], he got the captain’s armband and he wanted to try to continue what they did, and he’s managing it so far. With Klopp and Lucas [Leiva] as well, he’s doing well.”
Such encouragement can hopefully only serve as a boost for tomorrow when United visit Anfield.