4 Liverpool players who have successfully changed their playing position under Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool have undergone a massive transformation under Jurgen Klopp but before this summer, he didn’t invest heavily in the squad. In fact, Klopp took Liverpool to two cup finals in his debut season without altering the squad he had at his disposal.
Klopp utilised many of the players he inherited in ways his predecessors didn’t think of. Even some of the players he signed were shifted to a different position or role than they were used to at their previous clubs.
Mohamed Salah, for example, predominantly played as a right winger before joining Liverpool and on paper, he played in the same position for the Reds. However, Klopp has created a system in which Salah is often the furthest player up the pitch.
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Take the case of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who showed glimpses of his quality in central midfield at Arsenal but at Liverpool thrived in a system more suited to his attributes.
Salah and Chamberlain are examples of players who benefited from the system Klopp used rather than a change in their playing position. Four current first-team players at Liverpool changed their playing position successfully under Jurgen Klopp and that has helped the player or the team or both.
#4 Georginio Wijnaldum
Before Georginio Wijnaldum joined Liverpool, he predominantly played as an attacking midfielder or as a winger. In fact, he was quite good in that role.
For his former club PSV, he scored 56 goals in 152 games before joining Newcastle United and in his only season for the Toons, Gini scored 11 and assisted 5 in 38 league games.
When Klopp signed Wijnaldum in 2016, many expected him to play as a winger or in a #10 role but instead, Wijnaldum was used as a #8. He was one of the two midfielders who played on either side of the defensive midfielder (#6).
In his first season in that role, Wijnaldum scored six goals and assisted 11 more in all competitions!
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He continued to play in the same role for most of the 2017/18 season but injuries and the need to rest players forced Klopp to use Wijnaldum as a #6 towards the end of the season and he impressed in that role also in the local derby against Everton.
Wijnaldum sitting back as the deepest midfielder in the team seemed like a temporary solution especially with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho available to play as the sole defensive midfielder.
Klopp started the Dutchman in the #6 role in the first three league games of the 2018/19 season and the 27-year-old has made it difficult for both Henderson and Fabinho to take his place.
After his brilliant performance against Brighton, Klopp didn’t hold back from praising the player.
“Gini can switch from one mindset to the other and that is pretty good for us. If you ask me he was brilliant in pre-season as the eight. He was good as the six but brilliant as the eight. That’s why we never had any doubts about him. He can play both.
It was always clear he would be in the mix for the six positions. He has worked hard and plays it very well. He’s a good footballer, but it is important that you have the kind of mindset that you can cool yourself down in different situations."