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A Tactical Guide to Liverpool's Summer Transfer Business, Part 2: Central Midfield

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Part 1 of this series examined the types of fullbacks and wingers Jürgen Klopp might look to purchase, and we continue today as guest poster Steve B. Jensen turns his eye to Liverpool's midfield.

DON'T SEND HIM TO THE FARM, JURGEN!
DON'T SEND HIM TO THE FARM, JURGEN!
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In the middle of the pitch, LFC's squad is in much better shape.  The club's current central midfielders all share the characteristic scrappiness and willingness to run that typify a Klopp player.  On the attacking side, Roberto Firmino is a central attacking midfielder who has done a fine job over the last few weeks filling in as a striker.  And Bobby F. will press with the best of them. The good folks over at The Anfield Index have carefully compiled statistics this season that show the number of pressing actions by LFC players.  Firmino leads the list, which shows impressive numbers teamwide.  Likewise, Lallana, Coutinho, Milner, Can, Allen, and Lucas all work hard when the team is out of possession.  All of them will run for days.  All of them are delighted to make the other team feel "terrible."

The biggest gap in roles filled by LFC's current central midfield personnel probably falls in the "destroyer" category.  This is the role of the traditional "defensive midfielder," who is primarily tasked with breaking up the opponent's play and protecting the back four. LFC have only one natural destroyer in the current squad - the steadfast Lucas Leiva.  Regardless of one's opinions about Leiva himself - and he tends to split supporters dramatically - the squad could use another destroyer.  Expect one to come aboard.

You should also expect Klopp to look for some upgrades to one or two of the other central midfielders.  Although all of the existing players fight hard for the team and will run all day, their ultimate productivity is still arguably not good enough.  Look for Milner and Lallana to be replaced as starters.  Indeed, we already got a strong hint of this over the last few weeks with LFC's much-publicized bid to purchase attacking midfielder Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk.  It's highly likely that had he not gone to China, a player like Teixeira would slot alongside Firmino and Coutinho as LFC's attacking midfielders, which would limit Lallana to a backup role, at most.  Meanwhile, James Milner's aging legs and maxed-out skillset are unlikely to win him a starting role when he is competing against Jordan Henderson and Emre Can.  Look for LFC to sign another box-to-box midfield type who can provide Henderson and Can better competition (or even supplant one of them in the first team).

Alas, the rumor mill has strongly suggested that Joe Allen may be headed away from Anfield.  This move may make sense for the diminutive midfielder, who could no doubt secure a nailed-on starting role for many of the smaller clubs in the Premier League.  If he stays here, he's likely to remain a squad player, but he is a highly valuable one. Allen has always been known for his lovely short passing moves that allow his team to maintain possession for long stretches. Under Klopp, Allen has expanded his game to show more of a cutting edge in the final third, supplying both assists and goals in recent appearances.

Also in This Series

Wednesday — Part 1: Introduction and The Flanks
Thursday — Part 2: Central Midfield
Friday — Part 3: Centre Back
Saturday — Part 4: Striker