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The Liverpool Offside Roundtable: Making Liverpool’s Best-Ever Midfielder

TLO staff put together their perfect Liverpool midfielder.

Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by John Cocks/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Last week, Liverpool and Netherlands midfielder Gini Wijnaldum was asked to look at seven key attributes of his position and pick a different player, past or present, that exemplifies each of these attributes.

The seven attributes were: leadership, engine, passing, strength, football brain, skill and goalscoring.

Since we remain in football limbo, we thought it might be a fun thought exercise to create the perfect Liverpool midfielder in the same way. The rules are simple: any Liverpool player past or present can be chosen, and try to only use a player once.

Here are the results:


  1. Leadership: Jordan Brian Henderson
  2. Engine: James Milner
  3. Passing: Philippe Coutinho
  4. Strength: Gini Wijnaldum
  5. Footballing Brain: Lucas Leiva
  6. Skill: Xabi Alonso
  7. Goalscoring: Steven Gerrard

I went with a pretty contemporary list. First of all, I haven’t seen more than a handful of games from any Liverpool player pre-mid 2000’s. And secondly, it’s very difficult to compare across ages. And like Tito, I really wanted to use Hendo for the first two slots.


  1. Leadership: Jordan Henderson
  2. Engine: Hendo again
  3. Passing: Xabi Alonso
  4. Strength: Emre Can — Remember him?
  5. Footballing Brain: Gini Wijnaldum
  6. Skill: Philippe Coutinho
  7. Goalscoring: Steven Gerrard


  1. Leadership: Graeme Souness
  2. Engine: Jordan Henderson
  3. Passing: Jan Mølby
  4. Strength: Javier Mascherano
  5. Footballing Brain: Dietmar Hamann
  6. Skill: John Barnes
  7. Goalscoring: Steven Gerrard

I’m sure there are plenty of worthy options I’m missing, and I’d have loved to get the likes of Xabi Alonso or Lucas Leiva in there, and I have no idea how players really would stack up across generations and so have very little little faith that this is the right midfielder. But I think it’s good midfielder. And imagining a player with Big Jan’s passing ability, Hendo’s engine, and Barnes’ skills on the ball is fun.


  1. Leadership: Henderson
  2. Engine: Milner
  3. Passing: Coutinho
  4. Strength: Wijnaldum
  5. Footballing Brain: Fabinho
  6. Skill: Keita
  7. Goalscoring: Gerrard

Sticking with only the last decade made this easier. Liverpool’s midfield entered a dark period ten years ago that makes for a pretty small group of potentials. Henderson, Coutinho and, of course, Gerrard deserve mentions for providing excitement through FSG’s early years. I’ll put Wijnaldum on any list you put in front of me. Milner’s a freebie. Fabs sees it all. And Keita will burn your toast Firmino-style.


  1. Leadership: Jordan Henderson
  2. Engine: James Milner
  3. Passing: Steven Gerrard
  4. Strength: Javier Mascherano
  5. Footballing Brain: John Barnes
  6. Skill: Philippe Coutinho
  7. Goalscoring: Steve Heighway

I pitched this as a fun, quick idea for the rest of the staff, and it ended up taking me like 45 minutes to make my choices. I’m giving special mention to Lucas Leiva, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Can, Ronny Whelan, Didi Hamann...

Now I understand why I got complaints about this being almost impossible to do with an all time list. I guess that’s a pretty good problem to have though.

In the comments, we want to see your Frankenstein midfielder.

  1. Leadership:
  2. Engine:
  3. Passing:
  4. Strength:
  5. Footballing Brain:
  6. Skill:
  7. Goalscoring:

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