The times are changing for Liverpool and it’s fans. Club legend and current captain Steven Gerrard is leaving Merseyside at the end of the season to play in the less rigorous MLS with the LA Galaxy. Even though it hurts to lose the leadership and heart of someone like Gerrard, there is a new generation of players who are ready to become the face of the Reds.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has made it a priority to bring in young and talented players from all over the world. Lets look at the players who are age 25 and below and how they will be able to contribute to the club for years to come.
The vice-captain and new midfield general already looks like he is ready to take over the role of being the team’s emotional leader both on and off the pitch. He has been able to turn his time at Liverpool around, from being an overmatched right midfielder when he came in to now, orchestrating everything Liverpool does in his role as a central midfielder.
While he is not as dynamic as Gerrard, Henderson scored two recent goals that show that he has some of the Captain’s scoring ability. Even though Rodgers has not confirmed that Henderson will take over for Gerrard at the start of next season, the young midfielder has already proven that he will be the heart of the team for many years.
The Brazilian wizard has had a break out season this year and he has excelled as one of the attacking midfielders operating behind the striker. His three goals in February, all long range bombs from outside the penalty area are perfect examples of the talent that the young player possesses.
The switch to the new formation has allowed to him find better space farther up the field which opens up more options for him to find. With great field vision to go with his fantastic passing skills, no pass is to far or audacious for Coutinho.
Sturridge, on the other hand, has had a tough year. After coming off a brilliant 2013-2014 campaign where he scored 21 goals in the Premier League, he had to endure months on the sideline after suffering injury after injury.
He hasn’t been able to return to the searing form he had last season but with the players around him performing at top form, the England international doesn’t need to carry the team on his back, he just needs to get him self to full health for the last half of the season.
After looking relatively lost during the first half of the season, Can has reinvented himself as a ball-playing center back. Working alongside Martin Skrtel and Sakho has allowed Rodgers to field a much more solid defense than the four man wall he used at the beginning of the season.
Even though he came in as a center midfielder, Can has been able to play as if he has been a defender his entire life. He possesses surprising quickness as well as fantastic passing vision and he is often the one who starts the Liverpool counter-attacks.
Similarly to Can, Markovic has been able to find his place on the team after struggling for much of the first half of the season.
With a relentlessness desire to get the ball back when he loses it, Markovic has been a valuable contributor out on the right wing. Even though he is not the smoothest defender out there, his effort always bothers the opponent and prevents them from having time on the ball.
Has made the left wing back roe his own ever since the shift to the new formation and has been able to offer the necessary balance of offense and defense that the team needed from that position.
He is arguably the fastest player on the team and he uses that speed to dart back and forth from one side of the field to another, surprising opponents who think they have left him behind.
Sterling is the epitome of the style of play the Rodgers wants Liverpool to play. Speed, quality finishing and great dribbling are skills that the young attacker possesses and he has emerged as one of the brightest young talents in the world. For much of the first half of the season, Sterling was the lone threat of the Liverpool attack and was often double teamed as a result. However, with a quicker offense around him, Sterling has been able to influence the match at better times and he also has less of a burden on his shoulders.
If there is one thing that he could improve, it would probably be his willingness to pass. There are times where he gets the ball in a dangerous position but decides not to pass it to an open teammate, actions such as that often kills the passing movement the team had been building.
The latest addition to the crop of youngsters is the 19-year-old winger who is just starting to discover his full potential. After returning early from his loan at Derby County, Ibe has been able to seamlessly fit in to the starting 11 and he already looks like a seasoned veteran even after only making a few starts in the Premier League. With loads of confidence to go with his impressive dribbling and passing skills, he is never afraid to take on an opponent one-on-one.
While he is certainly capable of beating any defender, Ibe still needs to work on his contribution on the defensive side of the ball. Since Can also plays on the right side of the formation, there are times where both players are caught to far up the field, leaving space for opponents to exploit.
There are still other players young players who could become fixtures at the club if given the opportunity. These players are; Joe Allen, Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Dejan Lovren, Javier Manquillo, Mamadou Sakho