This season has put Alberto Moreno on an upward trajectory at Liverpool. The Spanish left back spent the whole of the last campaign sitting behind James Milner, who was taking up an unfamiliar position and wasn’t particularly fond of the role, either. Minutes were hard to come by for the speedy defender. Jürgen Klopp preferred to run Milner into the ground before he’d replace him with Moreno. And then Andrew Robertson’s arrival. And Moreno’s prospects at Liverpool suddenly looked to be dwindling.
Fortunately, for the Spanish international, that assumption has been proven wrong. And this season we’ve seen Moreno’s star on the rise with solid defensive performances and a greater understanding of his role going forward in Klopp’s system. John Arne Riise, a man who knows a thing or two about Liverpool’s left back position, has kept a keen eye on Moreno since the start of the season and believes the young full back has done all the right things to emerge back out into the spotlight.
“It’s a position the club has struggled with for some years,” said Riise, “so I am glad he is on his way to really make a mark.
“The way he has turned this around is the perfect way of doing it. Has never moaned or complained. He kept his head on the right things, worked hard, stayed happy and did his best for the club.
“He’s a great example of what belief and hard work can do.”
It sounds like hyperbole sometimes, talking about belief and hard work and success. But if Moreno didn’t get hunkered down and focused on claiming his spot on the left, he surely would have lost out to Robertson and would spend another season on the bench, another season not progressing, another season not getting called up for Spain.
“I do think Mr. Klopp has spoken a lot to him to give him that confidence,” Riise continued, “but at the same time he has been honest about a new left back coming in.
“I do think that has given Moreno some energy and he has really worked hard in preseason.”
The threat of being a redundant cog at Liverpool was a real possibility for Moreno before the start of the season. We didn’t know that Milner would be played in midfield, when he played. And Robertson certainly looked the part when he initially featured for the club. But, as we’re witnessing, some actual competition for places can do wonders for a player.
So, he’s our guy. Klopp’s guy. And we haven’t had too many complaints. Moreno’s is winning balls, making tackles, and bombing forward. But Riise still sees room for improvement.
“He needs to keep progressing,” he said. There’s still work to do, especially defensively, knowing when to go and stay, how he uses the ball going forward. And crosses.
“I would like to see him being a greater goalscoring threat.
“Full backs in today’s modern football need to be extremely fit and great going forward, to offer an offensive threat.”
I’m sure that’s on Moreno’s mind as well. The ex-Sevilla man has a rocket of a left boot, but often just sends balls careening into the stands. Stepping up with handful of goals this season along with increased solidity at the back and Liverpool might just have themselves a left back to go the distance, to make Riise and all the old boys proud.