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Jon Flanagan 'Booted' Juan Mata Around Old Trafford, Taunts Brendan Rodgers

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool competes with Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

Brendan Rodgers has sung the praises of his young full-back Jon Flanagan after his performance against Manchester United last weekend.

The Liverpool manager spoke of how Flanagan coped against the world-class talent of Juan Mata, comparing him to Reds legend Steve Nicol. 

David Maddock of The Mirror reports the Irish manager said:

He has been outstanding. He reminded me of Steve Nicol against Manchester United on Sunday - a right-footed player on the left side, steady, aggressive, no fear; he’s been a revelation, and particularly in the big games.

[...]

He was only born in '93, he’s only very young, but his performance levels are so mature.

They [United] had to change Mata over at the weekend. He booted Mata over to the other side and then Januzaj as well. He’s not easily fazed. I think the biggest thing for me has been his temperament, that is one of his attributes.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool competes with Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by A
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

This year has been a breakout season for the 21-year-old. He has clocked up an impressive 14 Premier League appearances, scoring once, per Squawka.

He has achieved a good level of consistency for one so young and seems destined to be an international footballer in the coming years, combining fearlessness in the tackle with an underrated touch on the ball.

And according to The Times' Merseyside football writer Tony Barrett, Flanagan's performances will see him offered a new contract at the club:

Flanagan has been a great find for Rodgers and he could develop into one of the most reliable full-backs in the Premier League. However, despite Liverpool's free-scoring approach to their campaign, their defence still seems very much short of true quality and depth.

The Reds have conceded more than a goal a game this season in the Premier League, shipping 35 in 28 games, per Squawka.

Despite the potency of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, this fact proves Rodgers has some work to do in recruiting a stronger defence, which has been without first-choice left-back Jose Enrique for most of the campaign.

Due to his age, Flanagan is more than likely to experience a dip in form at some stage over the next 12 months, so Liverpool require cover.

There will need to be a contingency plan in place for such a scenario, particularly if they have to add Champions League fixtures to their schedule next term.

Rodgers will know he cannot keep relying on Suarez and co. to outscore the opposition, so defenders will once again be high on the agenda this summer.

Liverpool will need to back up Flanagan's wonderful start to life in the first team by signing experienced cover, allowing the player to grow at a natural pace, and relieving the pressure he has so far handled with great maturity.

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