Jordan Henderson has had to fight for respect as a Liverpool player. He might be the club captain and a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s side, but Henderson hasn’t always been a favourite, even for his own supporters. Times have changed, though.
Liverpool’s midfield can be difficult to understand. Unlike Manchester City, the Reds don’t have a defined mould for their midfielders. Klopp demands that each of his central trio perform different roles, occupying different areas of the pitch. Henderson has become an integral part of what the German coach has built.
But while Henderson has more than earned his keep at Anfield, the 29-year-old hasn’t yet been able to translate his club form into the performances for his country. England could use a midfielder of his type, someone who can pick up the ball and drive it forward into the attacking third.
England have made great progress under Gareth Southgate, demonstrated by their performance at last summer’s World Cup and their displays at last year’s Nations League, but there remains a hole at the centre of his team. The Three Lions lack a figure to dictate play through the middle. Henderson will likely never be that figure, but he could still bring something they currently don’t have.
The hope is that James Maddison will give England the creative force they need around the edge of the opposition box. Looking further into the future, Phil Foden has been ear-marked as the player Southgate needs to take his side to the next level. It hasn’t helped that Foden is struggling for game time at Manchester City currently.
In the meantime, though, Henderson could be pushed further up the field, a position Klopp has used the 29-year-old in on occasion. With the 2020 European Championships already starting to appear on the horizon, Southgate must start settling on solutions to some of his problems and Henderson might offer him one.
Henderson is a first team pick for Southgate, with the Liverpool man expected to be England’s holding midfielder alongside Declan Rice who has made quite the impression since forcing his way into the national team reckoning last season. But Southgate must find a way to get more out of a player who is proving a real difference-maker at club level. Far from being a cause of England’s problems, he could be a solution.
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