Klopp lauds Jordan Henderson’s “football smarts” after showing off centre-back bow

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Jurgen Klopp has lauded the “football smarts” of Jordan Henderson, crediting the Liverpool captain for the seamless transition from one position to the next.

The 30-year-old has proven to be an exceptional stop-gap for the Reds in positions which are not natural to him, having dropped into right-back and centre-back in recent memory due to injuries elsewhere.

Henderson is as reliable as they come, selflessly sacrificing his own preferences in favour of playing the team role – and that has been noted in midfield as much as it has the defence.

Of course, his recent work at the heart of the defence has shined a spotlight on not only his self-sacrificing nature but his talent to adapt and shine as the Reds navigate a period without their specialist senior centre-backs.

And having shone in his last three starts in the position, Klopp was asked about the possibility of Henderson following in the footsteps of the likes of Javier Mascherano who dropped deeper to prolong their career.

It led the manager to shower praise on Henderson and his football brain, with his ability to influence the game in any position a credit to his all-round talent.

“He could, but we shouldn’t forget Hendo is actually a [No.] 8, so it makes it even more special,” Klopp told reporters.

“He is a No. 8 transformed in a No. 6, transformed in a No. 4 – he can play all these positions.

HERNING, DENMARK - Wednesday, December 9, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (L) and manager Jürgen Klopp after the UEFA Champions League Group D match between FC Midtjylland and Liverpool FC at the Herning Arena. (Pic by Lars Møller/Propaganda)

“The first thing that says is how football smart Hendo is, his physical skills are obvious.

“They are completely different positions, especially through the No. 8. I think are some teams play with the No. 6 that deep that it’s kind of a three at the back with proper wing-backs.

“We never played like this but that would make the transition really easy, but we play with the No. 6 another way so that’s how it is.

“He’s done really well and I wish him a long career as well and I wish that he has a word in which position he will finish his career in.

“But centre-half is one of the positions he can play, and thankfully for us, he can play that.

“It was a good game again [at Tottenham]. What makes it so exciting is that with his football skills he can be very influential in our build-up as well so that helps obviously.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 28, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip (L) and captain Jordan Henderson before the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

“He had a big hand in the first goal, nice little chip to Sadio and that was good – hopefully he can stay fit until 43 and then he can play football until then.”

No transition is seamless and Henderson’s has not been without minor faults, but as Klopp noted his understanding of the game has seen him thrive at a time when his team need him most.

Such versatility is invaluable and here’s hoping he has a very long career indeed.

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