Amongst Liverpool’s many summer signings there’s a bit of Brazilian flair and attacking fireworks thanks to Roberto Firmino, there’s a big money striker in Christian Benteke, and there’s the canny veteran presence of James Milner. And then there’s the man who might just end up the club’s most important new signing: right back Nathaniel Clyne.
Despite the importance of Liverpool getting in a new starting right back this summer, Clyne has managed to fly a little bit under the radar, having not been given the same kind of plaudits or scrutiny some of the club’s other signings have received. The 24-year-old who has replaced Glen Johnson, though, will undoubtedly be key. And not just for Liverpool’s chances this season but, hopefully, for many to come.
"At 24 there is an opportunity for me to be part of the set-up here for a good part of my career," Clyne told the Liverpool’s official magazine ahead of the start of the season. "That's definitely the aim—I’m here for the long-term. I’m looking to nail a spot down at Liverpool as soon as possible, but I still have a number of things I can improve on that will hopefully make me a better player than I am now."
Clyne has already impressed, though caveats about pre-season and sub-par opposition as always apply. Most encouraging, though, hasn’t been how he’s played against those opponents—it’s been how he’s often linked up to good effect with Jordon Ibe. It won’t always be Ibe in front of Clyne on the right, but the early signs are that the duo can strike up a promising partnership.
Part of what’s been so promising—and intriguing—about that partnership already has been Clyne’s flexibility and willingness to take up interior positions while Ibe patrols the touchline. Often Liverpool will use a narrow formation this year and it will be Clyne providing any width, but he’s already shown that when asked he can underlap in support of the midfield while a winger runs ahead of him.
"With the squad that we have, I would like to think that we'll look to win every competition that we're in," he added. "Our aim has to be a title challenge and trying to make the final of one of the cup competitions, while doing as well as we can in the Europa League. [We’ve] got a job to do this season and I can't wait to get started."
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