Analysis: 3 Transfers Liverpool Should Target To Become Title Challengers

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3 – Nabil Bentaleb

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Sean Dyche’s side were smart to counter Liverpool’s quick transitions and surrender possession. You cannot counter effectively, as Klopp’s team did versus Arsenal, if it’s you tasked with recycling the ball. Jordan Henderson, at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield, suffered because of it. The 26-year-old simply cannot be deployed as a sole defensive midfielder against such sides, that much was clear, as the Reds struggled to move the ball forwards quickly and accurately with the former-Sunderland man at the base of their midfield.

Defensively, Henderson will also feel hard done by, as Klopp opted to field Geoginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino all in midfield, meaning the England international was often left isolated at every chance Burnley had to power through at Liverpool’s defence. Whether Henderson has enough about him defensively is another matter, as Arsenal demonstrated he didn’t in a brief spell of dominance over a week ago. He is, in every sense of the word, a box-to-box midfielder, whereas the likes of Emre Can and Marko Grujic also don’t quite fit the profile of a defensive midfielder.

Lucas Leiva is still out injured, as reminded by Klopp in his post-match interview, but is the Brazilian still good enough for what Liverpool aspires to achieve? The Merseysiders may well be crying out for a different kind of presence; a midfielder with bite, but also the nous to combat defensively stubborn sides like Burnley, which should appear more frequently after Saturday’s showing.

In Nabil Bentaleb, Liverpool may have the profile they’re looking for. Despite also not being a defensive midfielder in its purest sense, there’s enough about the Tottenham Hotspur man to make that transition into the deepest role of midfield, whereas his technical competence and ability to pick out a pass has proven to be far superior to that of Henderson’s.

The Algerian international has fallen out of favour at White Hart Lane, despite appearing 35 times for Spurs in Mauricio Pochettino’s debut season with the club. A series of injuries saw Bentaleb frozen out of first-team action when fit, whereas the midfielder now looks to be on his way out of the club. As the likes of Schalke line up to take him, the weakness laid bare at Turf Moor last weekend suggests Liverpool ought to offering Bentaleb some TLC as well.