Liverpool FC: The 5 Most Valuable Liverpool Midfielders

Kevin SteeleContributor IIIJuly 29, 2011

Liverpool FC: The 5 Most Valuable Liverpool Midfielders

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    Much has been made this offseason of the dilemma Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish faces when determining what to do with the many quality midfielders his side possesses.  

    From new signings Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson to starting 11 stalwarts like Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard, Dalglish is spoiled for choice in midfield.  

    Decisions must be made though, so here is a look at the five midfielders vital to the success of Liverpool in the upcoming campaign.  

5. Jordan Henderson

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    While he will have to fight for a consistent place in the starting 11, Jordan Henderson will be a fantastic option off the bench and in domestic cup play.

    He will be able to provide width on the right side of the pitch and is a solid passer.  

    His main contribution to Liverpool will be chance creation, as he was among the EPL's elite in that category last season. 

    Henderson is also only 20 years old, so he will hopefully be able to contribute for many years to come. 

4. Charlie Adam

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    Scotland international Charlie Adam looks to be the player capable of picking up Xabi Alonso's mantle as a deep-lying passer for Liverpool.  

    Adam was excellent last season for Blackpool in terms of ball distribution and can play either on the left side of the midfield or in the middle. 

    Adam's biggest contribution to the side can come on set pieces, as last year four of his eight assists came from dead ball situations and 10 of his 12 goals were from free kicks or the penalty spot.  

    Preventing him from being higher on the list is his poor discipline (11 yellow cards last season) and shaky defending. 

3. Stewart Downing

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    Stewart Downing will look to justify his £20 million transfer fee, and should he get ample time along the left wing this season, it is more than likely that he will.  

    Like Henderson, he was among the EPL's elite in chance creators last year, and with a big center forward like Andy Carroll to aim for, he should be even more effective with his crosses.  

    Assuming Liverpool choose a formation that requires a true left winger like a 4-3-3, Downing's importance to the side will be immense because he is the only man on the team naturally cut out for that spot. 

2. Steven Gerrard

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    Throughout his time at Liverpool, Steven Gerrard has provided excellent leadership as captain, memorable goals and a great deal of determination.  

    When a last second push is needed for a late goal, he is the man Liverpool has looked to.  While healthy, he still manages to produce fine displays for his team, even when on the wrong side of 30.

    The reason why he isn't No. 1 on this list is that Liverpool doesn't need to lean on him for brilliant displays week in, week out anymore.  

    Gerrard's positional sense and defending aren't top class, and Liverpool has many other attacking options in the midfield, as well as at forward.

1. Lucas Leiva

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    Lucas tops the list of most valuable Liverpool midfielders because based on the players currently on the squad, no one can replace him.  

    He is the only holding midfielder worthy of consistent starting time.  Jay Spearing is certainly an option for the future but isn't ready for the starting 11 now, and Christian Poulsen is not worth playing at all.  

    Aside from being better than his competition, Lucas is a fantastic player in his own right.  His defensive game has grown immensely over the last year, he has become a regular on the Brazilian national team, and does a fine job of passing to move attacks forward as well as to maintain possession.  

    Without Lucas, Liverpool would be substantially weaker defensively and have less time on the ball.