Jürgen Klopp, the enigma at Anfield, working hard to take the club back to its previous best, has not had the best transfer windows, at least according to most Liverpool fans. The manager added pace and strength to his attack and has also made his defence a bit stronger but two places he has not been able to find quality additions was the left-back spot and a defensive midfielders spot. Unlike the former, where the manager had little available quality to choose from in the transfer window, the DM position was one that Klopp could have strengthened. Especially after Liverpool managed to end their transfer window with a positive net spent.
It is a mistake that Jürgen Klopp could have ill afforded in his first full year in charge at Liverpool. Though the manager may have his own calculation with the likes of Lucas Leiva, Kevin Stewart and Emre Can providing enough cover for a non-European season, the lack of strength in the area was visible in the games against Arsenal and Burnley where Liverpool’s defensive midfield was almost non-existent. And one player who could have solved the problem (up to an extent) was Piotr Zielinski, the Poland international who was creating waves in the Serie A.
Now playing for Napoli, the 22-year old moved from Udinese, his parent club for £13m, a price close to what Liverpool were happy to pay (and also made a bid). However, it was revealed that the midfielder wanted to stay in Italy longer and decided to play for Napoli. He is a player who Liverpool might dearly miss as they have not managed to find any other personnel in that position ready to move to the club before the deadline day. Though it is understood that the manager has his eyes on Borussia Monchengladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud in the long term, Zielinski is a player they will regret missing out on this season.
Emre Can, who is currently the first choice for the club in that position is a player who is still trying to find his best position on the field and though he can do a great job, he is far from the solid presence in the midfield that Liverpool had in the days of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano. Liverpool need players who are happy to sit back and defend but are ready to pounce on every opportunity to hurt the opponents when they leave space in the midfield. The likes of Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva are the other two options while Marko Grujic may also be given a look in but none of them have an all-round ability to run the show in the midfield for Liverpool.
Though the Polish international is not a true defensive midfielder, he is the powerhouse in midfield who can not only provide cover for the back four but also help in the exciting attacking play that the Reds are slowly easing into. They have the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson who are similar to him but neither have the mettle to run the midfield for the club.
Liverpool are growing into a team that can blow away the best sides in the league with their style of play but they need a strong foundation to beat teams that are set up to make themselves tough to beat. They need a midfield enforcer, a pivot that can turn defence into attack and all this while snubbing out attacks at the back which in short is what Zielinski might be in years to come.
He would have instantly made Liverpool a far stronger squad and though his lack of experience in England would have taken its toll, he would have made enough of an impact on the squad to get them into the top four spot come the end of the season. It may be a bit premature to conclude but Liverpool, if miss out on a top 4 spot, will look back at missing this young Poland international somewhere in August this summer. Do you think Piotr Zielinski is a player who could have lifted the club into the top four this season?