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5 midfielders Liverpool will be watching at the World Cup

While they have taken in a mid-season break as the World Cup takes place, there are a host of midfielders Liverpool and their scouts will be keeping an eye on.

In an age where round-the-clock live football is accessible to the masses, the notion of a player ‘exploding onto the scene’ at a World Cup feels somewhat archaic. 

Often we already know who the stars are. They’re shoved in our faces all season long and YouTube compilations have turned punters into part-time scouts.

The World Cup can enhance the reputation of a player but it can also whet the appetite for what is to come. Qatar 2022 has been no different thus far.

From a Liverpool perspective, we are on the hunt for a midfielder. Perhaps even a couple.

This World Cup, whilst clouded with its own controversies, affords Liverpool fans the opportunity to glimpse into a future of what the midfield might look like, and during a six-week hiatus from club football, it is fair to say that that is something we can all get behind.

Here’s a little look at some of the midfielders who have, at different points, been linked with moves to Anfield, and their fortunes for their national sides on the grand stage.

 

Moises Caicedo, Ecuador

2K6GAKY 08 Oct 2022 - Brighton and Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - Amex Stadium Brighton's Moises Caicedo during the Premier League match at the Amex Stadium. Picture : Mark Pain / Alamy Live News

The Ecuadorian’s career trajectory is very familiar – it has all the hallmarks of someone who ends up at Liverpool just as he’s about to explode.

He ended his World Cup story with a goal during his country’s 2-1 defeat to Senegal, and the versatility with which he proved he could operate within Ecuador’s midfield is a big tick in the box for a Jurgen Klopp side.

Caicedo has all the attributes to fulfil any role within a Liverpool midfield, be that in a 4-3-3 or as part of the 4-4-2 we have seen in large parts of the season, and having only just turned 21 there is ample time for the manager to mould him into the player he feels can best serve the club moving forwards. 

His age profile suggests that he could act as a long-term successor to fellow South American, Fabinho, at the base of the midfield, but there is every chance he could be viewed as an option further up the pitch.

One to keep an eye on.

 

Enzo Fernandez, Argentina

DOHA, QATAR - Saturday, November 26, 2022: Argentina's Enzo Fernández celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at the Lusail Stadium. Argentina won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This time last year I’d never heard of him; now I’d give serious consideration to sacrificing a kidney to see him in a red shirt. 

Of all of the reported Liverpool targets at this year’s World Cup, the Argentinian is perhaps the one who has dazzled the most so far, despite predominantly being deployed as an impact substitute.

He killed the game with a crucial second against Mexico and displayed all of the attributes you could hope for from such a raw talent. 

At 21, he is another frightening prospect, and one that could very conceivably slot straight into the right-sided central midfield role without a great deal of bedding-in time.

With a reported release clause of £120 million, he won’t come cheap.

It is, however, a potentially transformational signing – the likes of which Liverpool have got right on several occasions in the past – and one which could breathe new life into an ageing spine for the future. 

 

Declan Rice, England

DOHA, QATAR - Tuesday, November 29, 2022: England's Declan Rice sings the national anthem during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and England at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. England won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It feels farfetched, and if we’re honest he seems destined for Chelsea, but the prospect of Declan Rice in a modern Liverpool midfield is an intriguing one.

Defensive midfielders in this country are traditionally viewed as destroyers, tasked with breaking up play and limiting supply to opposition forwards, but the West Ham skipper has got the passing range, tactical awareness and box-to-box capabilities to supplement his core responsibilities.

He has been the deepest-lying England midfielder at this winter’s tournament and has notched two assists for West Ham in the early stages of the current Premier League season.

Having led his team into Europe, catching the attention of every top club in the land, it feels inevitable that the summer of 2023 will see him finally get his big move, particularly with his contract up 12 months later.

It doesn’t have the natural feel of a plausible Liverpool rumour, but both parties could certainly do a lot worse.

 

Mohammed Kudus, Ghana

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 13, 2022: Ajax's Mohammed Kudus during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An intriguing proposition on a number of levels.

Kudus announced himself to the Kop with a wonder strike during this season’s Champions League group stage, and despite typically operating as a centre-forward for Ajax, the Ghanaian could provide Liverpool with a progressive midfield option, the like of which the current squad currently lacks.

Klopp teams generally don’t feature a bonafide No. 10, although Roberto Firmino often occupies the areas you’d associate with one.

If the manager was looking to take the shape in a different direction this would be a great place to start. 

The creative midfielder is lighting up the Eredivisie, and at 22 his natural career arc will surely land him at a European giant this summer or next.

He was linked with a move to Everton in the summer, as Luis Diaz had been six months before his arrival at Liverpool, and frankly, aside from clearly being an exceptional footballer, any opportunity to get one over the blue brethren gets a thumbs up from me.

 

Jude Bellingham, England

LONDON, ENGLAND - Monday, September 26, 2022: England's Jude Bellingham before the UEFA Nations League Group A3 game between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is the one, isn’t it? The piece de resistance, the golden goose.

His boyhood hero is Steven Gerrard, he’s named after a Beatles song and his brother, Jobe, even shares his name with the scouse term for a taxi.

On a serious note, if there is any way that Liverpool can make the numbers work and get their hands on arguably the most talented midfielder this country has produced since Gerrard himself then it makes all the sense in the world.

Bellingham won’t turn 20 until next summer, by which point all of the usual suspects will once again be circling the shark-infested waters which plague Borussia Dortmund’s conveyor belt of talented youngsters.

One of those sharks comes in the shape of Man City. We’re used to the world’s best flocking to our neighbours up the M62 for big fees, but this one would really sting.

The fee that Bellingham would command supersedes anything the club have done in the market before, but with his career still in its infancy it would potentially secure one of Europe’s most precocious talents for the next decade and beyond.

Just do it, Liverpool. You know it makes sense.