The Rise of the forward destroyer

Over the last decade we have seen the disappearance of the classic number 10, especially in European football. The most famous example of course being Juan...
Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9.

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Why Ruben Neves is a perfect signing for Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation

The English outlet The Sun is reporting that Jurgen Klopp has made the Wolves midfielder, Ruben Neves a summer transfer target. The report also claims that Klopp is interested in Wolves’ winger Adama Traore but his main target would be Neves. Neves has been an excellent signing for Wolves after his transfer from Porto and at 23, he has his best years ahead of him. He has the right attributes to play for a top side and his experience in the Premier League make him more attractive to Premier League suitors. Liverpool have already pulled out of the Timo Werner transfer citing financial concerns post Covid-19 but it remains to be seen whether they are cautious throughout the summer or whether they loosen their purse strings to pursue players like Neves.

The one area where the Liverpool starting eleven is slightly inferior would be central midfield. Wijnaldum, Henderson and Fabinho have been great but it is clear that Klopp has been wanting to freshen up the midfield. Both Naby Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain were signed to provide the injection of pace and vertical movement from the center of midfield but both were unable to establish themselves. This extra attacking support from midfield is what Liverpool are lacking at the moment as they primarily rely on their deadly front three for goals. Also, Liverpool on the rare occasion, have been caught out on the counter by certain teams. In the Champions League, defensive solidity is as important as attacking prowess as even the smallest of mistakes is punished. Solving both these issues is key to Liverpool going on to become a dominant force for the next 3-4 years.

So let’s take a look at how Neves would fit in at Liverpool and how he might help improve their central midfield. Ruben Neves’ versatility would allow Klopp to play him either as the deepest midfielder or further forward. He is defensively aware, protects his defence well and has excellent long range passing.

Neves vs Fabinho vs Henderson: Defensive stats

In the big games especially in the Champions League where Liverpool were beaten by Atletico Madrid, Klopp would want his midfield to offer more protection to the defense, so he can play Neves and Fabinho as the deepest midfielders and allow Henderson a little more freedom. This would offer more stability to the defence, better passing from deep with Neves and also allow Henderson to play in his favored number “8” role.

Liverpool’s possible formation against tough opposition

Against weaker team, the midfield three can be flipped to have two attacking central midfielder and one defensive midfielder like below.

Liverpool’s possible formation against weaker opposition

There are not many players who can improve Liverpool’s well functioning first team, but Neves would certainly give Klopp a lot more options in midfield which easily is their weakest area at the moment.

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Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9.

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