Liverpool’s march towards Premier League glory has been halted, but who has been their star man this season as things stand?
The Reds have a 25-point lead over Man City, but non-footballing matters have delayed a memorable achievement.
Liverpool will hopefully still be crowned champions eventually, one way or another, but patience will be required amid the coronavirus pandemic.
There have been so many great performers for Jurgen Klopp‘s side this season, but who has stood out as their best player overall?
Here’s who we think have been Liverpool’s five standout players in 2019/20 to date.
5. Mohamed Salah
If ever a season has summed up why Mohamed Salah is taken for granted, it’s this one.
The Egyptian has received criticism for some of his performances, and while small elements of it have been justified—a bit loose in possession and a heavy touch occasionally on show—this has still been a very good campaign overall.
For starters, Salah leads the scoring charts with 20 goals, and if this campaign does resume he will be eyeing three Premier League Golden Boots on the spin.
The only players to do so since the league’s inception are Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry; the last was Henry in 2006, with the Frenchman the sole four-time winner over his tenure in the top flight.
The 27-year-old is such a danger that teams have often doubled up on him, but that still hasn’t prevented him from wreaking havoc with his blistering speed, ox-like strength and ruthless finishing.
Too many compare Salah’s current displays with his all-time great 2017/18 season—instead, we should just appreciate another excellent campaign in its own right.
4. Trent Alexander-Arnold
If last season saw Trent Alexander-Arnold rise to become a world-class right-back, this time around he has shown why he is a generational talent.
This is a special player we are witnessing—one who, whisper it quietly, is arguably even more polished than Steven Gerrard at the same age.
At 21, Alexander-Arnold has belied his years in terms of maturity in 2019/20, already matching last season’s tally of 12 assists in the league—a record for a defender.
Only three players—Angel Di Maria (78), Dimitri Payet (87) and Kevin De Bruyne (96)—have created more chances than the youngster (75) across Europe’s top five leagues, with the next-closest defender being Lucas Digne (58).
No player in Liverpool’s squad possesses better technique when it comes to fizzing a pass or whipping in a cross, while his display at Leicester on Boxing Day was the best by a Red this season.
If Alexander-Arnold doesn’t win the main Player of the Year awards once the campaign comes to an end, he should cruise to the Young Player of the Year prizes.
3. Virgil van Dijk
Much like Salah, there are times when we are guilty of expecting too much from Virgil van Dijk.
Last season, the giant Dutchman put to together an extraordinary nine months of football—perhaps the best by a centre-back in Liverpool’s history.
Once that happens, you are expecting a similar level of perfection year in, year out.
Even if Van Dijk hasn’t quite been every bit as awe-inspiring in 2019/20, he has still been a colossal presence, playing every minute in the Premier League; one of just seven outfield ever-presents.
As a player, he is genuinely without fault, whether it be possessing incredible pace and power, a wand-like passing ability or monstrous aerial presence.
The only reason Van Dijk hasn’t finished higher is because of a slight dip in the last month, when he has actually looked close to human for once.
2. Jordan Henderson
This time, the skipper’s vast influence has really shone through, with few footballers in the country having a greater impact on their team.
After a slow start, Henderson has been magnificent with each passing month, performing like a player right at the peak of his powers.
Not only has he led the troops superbly, he has shown that his worth in a footballing sense is also great, chipping in with three goals and five assists.
When Fabinho‘s injury looked like it could have a detrimental effect on Liverpool’s season before Christmas, Henderson stepped up, making us all forget about the Brazilian.
On top of that, the 29-year-old’s reputation has only been enhanced through injury, with the Reds looking nowhere near the same team without him around.
There are better players at Liverpool, we all know that—but is there a more influential, respected presence on and off the pitch combined?
1. Sadio Mane
Some may think Henderson deserves it, other might believe Alexander-Arnold and Van Dijk would be worthy winners, but Sadio Mane tops the pile.
The Senegalese’s statistics may be less impressive than Salah’s on paper, but he has been the driving force behind Liverpool’s title charge.
He has stood out as the most consistent, dangerous and bullish of Liverpool’s much-famed front three, with his unpredictability on the left flank unplayable.
With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo naturally showing signs of ageing, it could even be argued that Mane has been the most influential attacking player in world football in 2019/20.
That sums how good he has been, even if history won’t necessarily show a bucket-load of goals or an unforgettable highlight reel.