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Liverpool: Top 5 Candidates to Become the Reds' Next Big Star

David HendrickContributor IIIJanuary 1, 2017

Liverpool: Top 5 Candidates to Become the Reds' Next Big Star

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    Steven Gerrard is Liverpool's captain, he is their talisman and he is one of their star players.

    He no longer holds the title of being Liverpool's best player, though. That mantle now sits with Luis Suarez, but Gerrard is still a top class player.

    For over a decade, Gerrard has played a major role for Liverpool, and for a number of years he carried the team single-handedly when others around him lost all semblance of form.

    It would be untrue, though, to suggest that he has always been their sole star.

    In the beginning, it was Michael Owen who shared the responsibility. Following Owen's departure, there were a couple of seasons where Gerrard stood head and shoulders above his teammates and was the lone true star.

    The void alongside him was then filled by Fernando Torres, who combined with Gerrard to make Liverpool a force in the Premier League and in Europe.

    Torres is now long gone while Gerrard remains a star. But unlike before Torres arrived, he is not the only one.

    Liverpool's other star player is, as mentioned, Luis Suarez, and with Gerrard's career in it's twilight, it is Suarez who will be needing a partner in crime to lead Liverpool into the future.

    Liverpool have historically had at least two star players in their successful teams. Often times they've had three. Even many of the teams that weren't successful had two star players.

    With the exception of the years between Owen and Fowler, when Gerrard carried the team, the Reds have rarely been a one-man team.

    Think back to the team with Heighway and Keegan, move on to Dalglish and Souness, plus Rush. Then there was Rush, Barnes and Beardsley. McManaman and Fowler were the tandem in the early and mid 90s and then there was Owen and Gerrard.

    Now it's Gerrard and Suarez, and pretty soon it'll just be Suarez.

    While the Uruguayan has the ability to carry the team after Gerrard can no longer be a star player, it wouldn't be an ideal situation.

    A common theme at Liverpool has always been that they don't buy star players, they make them.

    So who can take over for Gerrard out the current crop of Liverpool players?

    Here are five possibilities, along with the reasons why they could or could not be star players .

Raheem Sterling

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    Raheem Sterling is arguably the most exciting young player in England right now.

    A lightning quick winger who is capable of playing on either flank, he takes on and beats defenders for fun.

     

    Why he could become a star

    He has the talent and he has the self belief. He shows no fear on the pitch and is willing to take risks. He's also a hard worker with a great attitude towards the game.

    Sterling is the most hyped Liverpool prospect ever.

    Forget Fowler, Owen, Gerrard et. al. None of them arrived at the Liverpool first team with the reputation Sterling carried with him.

    Much of that is down to social media and YouTube, as we saw when Sterling was given a standing ovation while coming on for his Liverpool debut.

    Expectations are high.

     

    Why he might not

    Pressure for starters.

    Perhaps too much is expected of him. We're yet to see how he will handle a slump in form—that will be a big test for him.

    The other issue is that wingers are a strange breed and at 17, it's impossible to tell if Sterling will become a John Barnes-type star or an Aaron Lennon-level case of "what looked like being."

    Lennon at Leeds was Sterling now. He had the talent, the confidence and the world at his feet. For one reason or another, he's never lived up to the billing.

    Hopefully Sterling doesn't fall into that category.

Joe Allen

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    The Welsh Xavi, as Brendan Rodgers referred to him upon signing Allen for Liverpool, is the Reds' pass master.

    Hugely under-rated throughout the Premier League for unknown reasons, he will have to play a key role if Liverpool are to have success under Rodgers .

     

    Why he could become a star

    Allen has quickly become one of Liverpool's most important players and has been one of their best players so far this season. In the style of play Brendan Rodgers wants to utilize, his role is one of the most important when it comes to making everything click.

    If Allen plays well, Liverpool will play well. It's that simple.

    While the system might function without him, it won't flourish as it would with him in it. He's going to be a fixture for Liverpool for the next decade.

    You get the feeling that if they do have success, he will play a huge role in it.

     

    Why he might not

    He doesn't really have the profile and much of his best work gets overlooked.

    Footballing dinosaurs like Alan Shearer have already criticized him for not being brave with the ball this season.

    That statement shows just how out of date people like Shearer are. Allen epitomizes bravery in how he is always willing to receive the ball under pressure and isn't scared to pass it to others under pressure, knowing that it will create space elsewhere for teammates to exploit.

    A lot of his work will get overlooked, but that's what happens to players who play his role. Xavi was overlooked for years, despite being the most important player in the Spanish and Barcelona teams.

    Most important, not best.

    It took a long time for people to realize just how good he was. 

    For years, it was the same with Paul Scholes at Manchester United

    Their own fans knew how good these two were, and knowledgeable football fans and observes knew similar. Unfortunately, the masses took a long time to come to terms with it.

    And Allen could well suffer the same fate.

Suso

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    Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáez de la Torre, better known as Suso, is one of the fledgling youngsters currently building a reputation for himself in Liverpool's first team.

     

    Why he could become a star

    Falling somewhere between David Silva and Juan Mata stylistically, Suso is a gifted footballer who brings a flair to Liverpool's attacking play.

    He plays with a wonderful air of confidence and has absolutely no fear. He's a joy to watch with the ball at his feet and he always seems to have a perfect picture of where everyone is on the pitch. 

    He can make and score goals and is excellent at linking the play and retaining possession. He's also not afraid of a bit of hard work, an added bonus and a rarity in such a flair player.

     

    Why he might not

    With a young player his age, it's very difficult to tell just how good he can be. There's no doubt that he has the ability to be a regular in the Liverpool first team for many years, potentially even reaching the levels of Silva and Mata.

    Alternatively, he could be another Luis Garcia.

    While that's no bad thing, it's not enough to become a true star.

Nuri Sahin

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    Nuri Sahin is a borderline world class player who is an elite passer who can also provide goals and defensive awareness to the team. 

     

    Why he could become a star

    Sahin is the whole package and has the versatility to play in any of the three roles in Liverpool's current midfield. He's also got the ability to fit into just about any formation or system of play.

    On talent alone, Sahin can be a star for Liverpool. He is a wonderful footballer player who Liverpool fans haven't even begun to see the best of yet.

    He's also a proven leader—once he becomes more comfortable in his surroundings we could well see that shine through. Sahin is a special player, and special players make stars.

     

    Why he might not

    Simple really, Liverpool don't own him yet. While Jose Mourinho today suggested that a permanent deal is possible at the right price for Real, Liverpool will still have to get the deal done to secure his signature.

    If they don't, they will likely spend many years regretting it.

JonJo Shelvey

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    A goalscoring midfield with an eye for the pass, Jonjo Shelvey has been carrying the "next Gerrard" moniker since his arrival at the club.

     

    Why he could become a star

    Shelvey is a multi-talented youngster whose potential is unquestionable. He can pass and shoot with both feet, and he's not scared to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and try to win it single-handedly.

    A rare trait in someone so young.

    Still only 20, Shelvey is nowhere near the finished article. There is room for development in all aspects of his game, particularly on the mental side. Shelvey sometimes gets what is known as "a case of the Charlie Adams" where he gets into a funk and mishits passes.

    He then tries to plow his way through this funk and only gets worse.

    A prime example of this was his performance against Hearts.

    He needs to learn to play more within himself and learn his limitations. When he learns those, the game will become a lot easier for him.

    Brendan Rodgers clearly has great faith in Shelvey, and if he can help him make the right improvements, Shelvey could become a star player for Liverpool.

     

    Why he might not

    He might get crowded out.

    With Allen, Sahin and Suso all at the club, Shelvey might not become a regular for Liverpool in the long run. With Lucas Leiva almost certain of a place on the team, and Allen unquestionably going to be a long term fixture, that leaves one spot in Liverpool's midfield.

    It could possibly be two if Rodgers does switch to a 4-2-2-1-1, similar to what the Spanish national team uses. Even then, Shelvey would then be competing with Sahin, if he stays at Liverpool, and Suso, for those starting roles.

    Whether he will be better than them is impossible to say.

The Next Generation

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    Gerrard's time on the Liverpool team may be running out, but he's likely still got a couple of seasons left in him, especially if Brendan Rodgers moves him into the front three.

    If that is the case, and none of those previously step in to replace Gerrard as a star player, then perhaps one of the young gems at Liverpool who have not yet established themselves in the first team picture could be the one to join Suarez in a couple of years.

    Samed Yesil, Jerome Sinclair and Jordon Ibe are the three most obvious choices. All have star potential, and with Brendan Rodgers in charge, you know they are going to get chances to stake their claim.

    Yesil is the most likely to directly replace Gerrard ,as he is 18 and thus would likely be 20 when Gerrard is no longer first choice, or even an important squad player.

    Sinclair and Ibe are just 16, so it would likely be too much to expect them to carry a large share of the load at 18, unless they are of the calibre of Michael Owen. Early signs suggest they could be, but Owen was burned out at 25—Liverpool will not want that happening to these two gems.

    Let's not put any sort of pressure on these kids just yet, but let's keep them in mind for future reference.

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