There have been two recent developments affecting Liverpool’s 2015/16 attacking line-up and both of them raise concerns over the viability of their tactical blueprint.
Former Manchester City winger James Milner has expressed his desire to “play more centrally” and noted that Brendan Rodgers shares his vision. At the same time, the Reds are reportedly edging closer to the purchase of Christian Benteke, who is currently [1.12] to leave Aston Villa this summer.
As a reminder, Tim Sherwood, who proved his understanding of Benteke by raising his 2014/15 strike rate from three goals in 19 games before he debuted in the Villa Park dugout to 12 in 15 under his guidance, has asserted that “there’s no point going to a club where they don’t cross the ball”.
Liverpool were the least prolific crossers in the Premier League last season and signing a two-time title-winning wide man under the proviso of instantly converting him indicates that they haven’t given much consideration to changing their approach.
If Milner is to play centrally, they will presumably build from a midfield base of Emre Can (who Rodgers will surely desist at last from picking in defence after the final-day humbling at Stoke) sitting behind the scurrying twosome of Milner and Jordan Henderson.
The former seemingly moved to Anfield rather than renewing at the Etihad Stadium or joining another top-six suitor because of the promise of first-team football, while Henderson started all bar five league matches in the past two campaigns and is expected to inherit Steven Gerrard’s armband.
Therefore, with Raheem Sterling [1.15] to exit in this window, if they are to line up with the wingers that Benteke craves, it will likely mean selecting Brazil international starters Philippe Coutinho and £29 million man Roberto Firmino in positions in which they aren’t at their most effective.
A far better solution for almost everyone already at the club would be a diamond in which Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne bring the width. Can, Milner, Henderson and Coutinho would form the centrepiece, with Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Adam Lallana providing cover.
They would then have Firmino and Daniel Sturridge as their best-case-scenario forward pairing, with Divock Origi, Danny Ings and Mario Balotelli stepping in when either are unavailable. Jordon Ibe and Lazar Markovic, not to mention Lallana, would still be around for whenever wingers are desirable.
Do you agree that Liverpool’s [3.85]-rated top-four prospects will be better served not buying Benteke? Share your thoughts with a comment below or by tweeting @Betfair…