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Liverpool FC player ratings as surprise quartet take chance in pre-season

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Liverpool ended their season with a successful double-header of Anfield friendlies, with a host of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad standing out over the course of the summer.

The Reds played their first games in front of a large Anfield crowd on Sunday and Monday, marking a productive conclusion to their warmup schedule.

In total, Liverpool played eight friendlies, including four shortened games, with only one defeat and four victories to show for it:

  • Wacker Innsbruck (30 mins) – Austria – 1-1 draw
  • Stuttgart (30 mins) – Austria – 1-1 draw
  • Mainz – Austria – 1-0 win
  • Hertha Berlin – Austria – 4-3 loss
  • Bologna (60 mins) – France – 2-0 win
  • Bologna (60 mins) – France – 1-0 win
  • Athletic Club – Anfield – 1-1 draw
  • Osasuna – Anfield – 3-1 win

With pre-season an opportunity to build fitness, sharpness and catch the manager’s eye, a number of squad players and key names alike impressed over the course of the summer.

Here, we rate every player to feature for at least 90 minutes.


Alisson – 7

Had little to do over his two appearances but showed enough to suggest he is up to speed ahead of the Premier League opener.

Caoimhin Kelleher – 6

Less assured than his fellow ‘keepers with a mixup leading to a goal and a worrying injury for Hertha Berlin’s Santiago Ascacibar, but otherwise coped well.

Adrian – 7

Looked solid both in claiming high balls and making saves, while his distribution caught the eye in the opening friendlies.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk embraces manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk – 7

A moment 285 days in the making as he made his comeback against Hertha, and other than a blip that allowed Stevan Jovetic to score, the Dutchman was as strong and composed as ever at the back.

Joel Matip – 8

The most consistent of Liverpool‘s centre-backs over the course of pre-season, Matip looks primed to start at Norwich and could be an important player with his speed, strength and ability to bring the ball out from the back.

Ibrahima Konate – 7

At 22, Konate acquitted himself well in his first pre-season under Klopp, though he was guilty of overplaying at times, relying on his physicality to get himself out of trouble.

A work in progress who may benefit from a longer wait for his competitive debut.

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - Thursday, July 29, 2021: Liverpool's Joe Gomez during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Hertha BSC at the Tivoli Stadion. (Pic by Jürgen Faichter/Propaganda)

Joe Gomez – 7

Like Van Dijk, Gomez has barely missed a step despite spending the majority of a year on the sidelines, and Klopp hailed his long-range passing as a “nice little asset.”

Rhys Williams – 7

There were sloppy moments, namely when both he and Nat Phillips misjudged the flight of a simple cross against Bologna, but Williams appears to have adjusted well and could be a reliable fifth or sixth choice if he stays.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7

Confident in his fitness and eager to take on a leadership role after signing a new four-year contract, Alexander-Arnold was a dependable figure as he clocked the joint-most minutes of any player in pre-season.

Andy Robertson – 7

Klopp must now plan without him, at least for the short term, which is a shame as Robertson looked to have profited from an extended break in the off-season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kostas Tsimikas – 8

The disappointment of Robertson’s ankle injury is offset by a standout pre-season from his deputy, with Tsimikas impressive in his relentless attacking play down the left, ending the summer with three assists.

Neco Williams – 7

Still yet to fully convince, but with no offers on the table, Williams looks set to stay as second-choice right-back, and could do so off the back of a solid pre-season.

Owen Beck – 8

In relative terms – as a just-turned 19-year-old with no previous first-team experience – Beck was one of Liverpool‘s best performers over pre-season, jumping the queue with capable defensive play and a great delivery in the final third.

Fabinho – 7

Building his minutes ahead of a likely start at Norwich, Fabinho marked a new five-year contract with two strong displays at the base of the midfield, including an assist against Osasuna.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Naby Keita during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Naby Keita – 8

One of the stars of the summer, Keita has raised hopes again with a run of scintillating displays both on and off the ball in the middle of the park; his work rate was particularly eye-catching.

James Milner – 7

The father figure in the squad, Milner will have been a big influence on the likes of Beck, Kaide Gordon, Harvey Elliott and Tyler Morton, while his passing play and overlapping runs were a key feature of Liverpool‘s midfield.

Harvey Elliott – 8

Who saw that coming? Elliott has been a revelation in his No. 8 position in midfield, with his tireless running, eye for a pass and turn of pace making him a genuine candidate for a starting role this season.

His versatility is a vital quality, too, having struck the bar with a left-footed curler after cutting in from the right against Athletic Club.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8

Spent the first half of pre-season learning the ropes as a striker, but stood out when back in his familiar and favoured midfield role, and crucially he proved his fitness as the only outfielder to play the full 90 minutes of the final friendly.

Curtis Jones – 6

Not the pre-season Jones would have hoped for, with his minutes restricted, and it can be argued that Elliott, Leighton Clarkson and Ben Woodburn all outshone the 20-year-old, who now has work to do.

Leighton Clarkson – 8

A loan move would suit Clarkson this season, with a Championship club such as Blackburn poised to thrive with his subtle midfield play and stunning range of passes.

The 19-year-old should have ended the summer with at least one assist, such was the quality of the balls he was laying on for his team-mates.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Ben Woodburn during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ben Woodburn – 7

Woodburn played central midfield, right-back, left wing, defensive midfield and up front during his surprise run in the side, and his intelligent play appears to have won Klopp and his staff over.

“He showed up in a top, top way,” Klopp said, with Pepijn Lijnders adding: “He has an Anfield future.”

Tyler Morton – 7

Not at all fazed by the demands of stepping up to the first team, boyhood Liverpool fan Morton excelled in the early friendlies with his combative and creative midfield play.

Mohamed Salah – 7

There was no goal to show for it, but it was a decent pre-season from Salah, who should be hungry as ever when the campaign begins proper.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sadio Mane – 8

Unlike Salah, the ball fell to Mane in the right moments, with three goals and an assist suggesting he has shaken off the rust with a much-needed holiday.

Diogo Jota – 8

It didn’t take Jota long to make his mark, with goals against Bologna and Athletic Club, and he looks confident ahead of an expected start up front against Norwich.

Roberto Firmino – 7

Firmino struggled for fluency last season, but two goals against Osasuna saw him play with a swagger that was often missing in his game over the past 12 months.

The Brazilian will put up a fight for his starting spot if Jota is currently first choice.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates after scoring the first goal during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Takumi Minamino – 8

Like Tsimikas and Keita, there were low expectations for Minamino heading into pre-season and he confounded them emphatically, particularly when he shifted to his natural role on the left.

The No. 18 still looks too slight to excel as a No. 9, but he could add to the competition in attack after a confidence-boosting night in front of 40,000 fans at Anfield against Osasuna.

Divock Origi – 6

If there’s one player in this Liverpool squad that needs a move to reignite his career, it’s Origi: his penalty against Wacker Innsbruck was an outlier in a pre-season wracked with indecisive attacking play.

The Belgian wasn’t awful, but it was much of the same for a peripheral player who found himself on the bench as 16-year-old Gordon started against Osasuna.

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - Thursday, July 29, 2021: Liverpool's Kaide Gordon during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Hertha BSC at the Tivoli Stadion. Liverpool lost 4-3. (Pic by Jürgen Faichter/Propaganda)

Kaide Gordon – 8

A statement summer from a player who only made his under-23s debut on the final day of last season, Gordon was fearless in his play on the right flank and should have scored against Osasuna.

Starting ahead of Origi in the Anfield closer was a big show of faith from Klopp, who could well hand him his competitive debut this season.


Who doesn’t qualify?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fabinho and Firmino just made the cut with a substantial showing over 89 minutes, but nine players did not feature regularly enough to merit a grading.

Those included Jordan Henderson and Thiago, who linked up well in their cameo against Osasuna, along with Xherdan Shaqiri who assisted Minamino’s goal against Bologna.

Phillips, Ben Davies, Conor Bradley, Loris Karius, Billy Koumetio and Jake Cain are also omitted.


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