ALL HANDS ON DECK! POWER UP YOU TAX MACHINES! Last minutes reinforcements are coming! Or are they? Are they? Jürgen Klopp has responded swiftly to answer to all the call and demands and pleas (even) of Liverpool fans for defensive consolidation. No, he hasn’t, we are just pulling your leg, just because we ca – but, wait-Sa-minute, don’t go! since you’ve read as far as you have, here’s something on the Borussia Dortmund’s 17-year-old wonderkid, Christian Pulisic (Liverpool’s bid for him was rejected recently) and why he may be crucial to Liverpool’s chances this season.
Liverpool have had some god-awful luck with wingers (or what you kids call ‘wing forwards’, these days) – it strains the mind to think of even a handful of good ones in the past two decades (and that isn’t conducive to the fact that I have half-a-dozen more articles to write today). Steve McMananananaman was the last great wing wizard for Liverpool, and since then, it has all been a bit of an elaborate gag. Ryan Babel was never going to be the next Henry, Albert Riera was ugly (sorry), Luis Garcia was erratic, Stewart Downing was a lily-livered wuss, Harry Kewell was made out of sugar glass, Maxi Rodriguez was strictly effective, Dirk Kuyt worked hard, Maxi Gonzales’ work permit took a little too long to go through. It’s telling, don’t you think, that Liverpool’s most productive winger in the last twenty years was Steven Gerrard, with 17 goals, a central, box-to-box midfielder. The boy Pulisic may change all that. Here’s why.
#1 The Main Mané Alternative
This factor perhaps pushed a stoic Jürgen Klopp into the market. The moment Sadio the main man ran out of steam against Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino’s men grappled the momentum back. It was clear as daybreak in the horizons of the Serengeti, that the Senegalese international is the lifeblood of this Liverpool attacking template. Sadio’s rampant linear press out there on the flanks, overran Tottenham’s corridors, and forced their crowded midfield back, and stretching their defence.
Pulisic, belying his age, is a consummate, tireless grafter. That being said, he’s no headless chicken. He’s proclivity to pressing while keeping an eye on the balance of the space in behind of him, covering the angles of a potential pass, and pushing an opponent to the least threatening option – makes him the ideal Klopp geggenpressing man.
#2 Magician in Training
At the tender age of 17.212 years, became the youngest non-German to score in the Bundesliga – such was the technique on the finish vs Hamburg, Rene Adler, was made to look like a Sunday league keeper. The boy has an eye for a worldlie and, most crucially, the unconventional pass. Liverpool, for all the attacking talent at their disposal, lack a magician in training, i.e, an alternative for the creativity of lil’ Phil’ Coutinho. Roberto Firmino, Genie Wijnaldum, Sadio, and the likes are more proficient ahead of the line of play than hanging about, around the edge of the box, playing that final pass. That’s one area, where the unassuming Croatian bares his beguiling guile, and wrecks the most havoc, summoning chances of half-chances, and half-chances out of thin air – coupling his vision with direct, tireless running with his powerful shoulders which aids him to protect the ball, complemented with his speedy, technical dribble. He seems to actually relish the opportunity of getting fouled, such is his fearlessness in possession. Liverpool may have another conjurer in their ranks if this move goes through.
#3 Jack of All
The Croat’s technical ability is underlined by his tactical perceptiveness to be able to play across the three attacking positions in the front. Number 10 or the wing-forward roles, you name it, he’ll do it with aplomb – or even if there are off-days, he’ll put in a shift. Liverpool fans love a trier, and he would be no different. His spatial understanding while pressing, as mentioned before, also translates into his positional IQ.
There are weaknesses in his game as well, but nothing notable enough to highlight in the aforementioned paragraphs. Like with every technically gifted winger, he does show the tendency to release the ball a stride too late and look to back himself on the dribble. Klopp has a whole host of possible and probable names to go ahead and fish for from his old team, but Pulisic being the one he chose to procure, will tell you the standing he has in the German’s estimation. He may be the one who breaks the wing jinx for Liverpool, and maybe, just maybe, provide just enough firepower and cover to put an end to their League title curse.