With four days left till the New Year rolls around and the January transfer window reopens, why not look a bit further into the future just for fun?
Here is my Liverpool starting XI for 2015, assuming that Brendan Rodgers is still in charge then and that his favored 4-3-3 system is still in use at Anfield.
Let us know your picks in the comments below.
Yup, Pepe Reina will still be Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper in just over two years time.
Not Jack Butland. Not Ali Al-Habsi. Not anyone else linked to that important sweeper-defender-jester-leader position between the Anfield posts.
No one but Pepe Reina.
Martin Kelly has been out with a knee injury since September, but his emergence was probably the Liverpool Academy’s finest success story since the current batch of graduates have started making inroads in the first team.
He’ll be marauding down the right flank at Anfield for years to come.
In 2015, perhaps Kelly will have established himself so strongly in the starting XI that he will have to be granted first-choice status on the right.
Before Kelly and Andre Wisdom were injured this season, Glen Johnson had been making waves standing in as left-back.
A specialist right-back, Johnson, who will only be 31 in 2015, will still be too good to let go, so off he goes to offer more both-footed goodness from the left.
I’m taking a significant leap of faith here.
Andre Wisdom has shown all the potential in the world this season as a full-back, but he is a center-back by trade and has the leadership and composure to command the back four.
He will take over from Martin Skrtel as the hard man in central defence, but will offer more poise and skill on the ball.
Alongside him will still be Daniel Agger, who, like Glen Johnson, will only be 31 by then, an age where defenders generally reach their prime.
His experience will be required from the back, as well as his ability to bring the ball out of defence.
As he matures, Liverpool fans will only hope that he can grow into an elder statesman-type role that Sami Hyypia played to such perfection.
Manning the midfield will still be a Brendan Rodgers favorite, Lucas Leiva, who will have grown into one of the Premier League’s finest—if he isn’t already.
He will have worked a further two years under Rodgers’ passing system and will have picked up significant tactical awareness and positional responsibility to add to his terrier-like harassing of opposing midfielders.
He will be the cornerstone of the Liverpool base.
How could we have seen this coming just three years back?
Now comes the first of our 2015 starting lineup that is not in the current Liverpool setup.
His eye for a pass and penchant for the odd goal or two makes him a perfect fit for an attacking Liverpool side of 2015, and he will perhaps rotate with Rodgers’ favorite Joe Allen in the central midfield role.
As Steven Gerrard is eventually and finally phased out from the starting XI at Anfield, the next midfield talisman will have considerable shoes to fill.
As a specialist central attacking midfielder, he would have, in Gerrard, the perfect mentor to learn from as he turns potential into real quality at Anfield.
In front of Eriksen on the right would be Tom Ince, now rumored to be returning to Liverpool in the coming January transfer window (BBC Sport).
The left-footed forward, who as an English U21 international would fit the club’s “young and British” policy, would form a perfect inverted wing partnership with Raheem Sterling on the opposite flank. Both players also have the tactical and positional flexibility to switch flanks if needed.
He would rotate with Suso to offer different options on the right flank.
Having witnessed an explosive start to life as a Premier League regular from Raheem Sterling this season, Liverpool’s prerogative was to tie him down to a professional contract this month when he turned 18.
Now the club will have plenty of first-team football to look forward to from the winger and hope for plenty of maturing from him as well.
If he works on developing his raw skill set, the Reds could well have one of the best attacking players in the country by 2015.
The crux of the Liverpool front line would still be their No. 7, Luis Suarez, who has recently repeated his desire to stay at Anfield (ESPN).
Assuming that Ince and Sterling add composure in their finishing to their game, Suarez would be part of a dynamic and interchangeable forward trio that counts speed, trickery and goals as its strengths.
Not too bad a partnership to be relying on.
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