Bright Future: Liverpool are a team of players still yet to hit peak age
There was a stark reminder of just how young Liverpool’s current squad is when the players headed towards the Kop, hand-in-hand, saluting supporters after their 2-2 stalemate with West Bromwich Albion.
Apart from Martin Skrtel and James Milner, the other nine players who embraced the Reds’ supporters at Anfield last weekend were largely fresh-faced and youthful, still learning their trade in the game.
Jordon Ibe (20), Divock Origi (20), Roberto Firmino (24), Alberto Moreno (23) and Emre Can (21) were amongst the line of players who greeted fans after the full-time whistle, all of whom are under the age of 25.
The substantial number of youngsters who finished the game against West Brom last Sunday evoked thoughts about peak age and how Liverpool have a lack of stars within that bracket at the moment.
Even senior figures in the squad such as team captain Jordan Henderson (25), Philippe Coutinho (23) and Christian Benteke (25) are still on the borderline, edging closer towards the 26-29 age group typically labelled peak years.
Jurgen Klopp triggered his players’ celebrations at the end of their clash with West Brom, which was a throwback to what used to happen on a regular basis at Borussia Dortmund under his stewardship.
The German strives to create unity, bringing everybody connected with that particular club together as one and he is getting closer and closer in his quest to do so at Liverpool long term.
Some have ridiculed Klopp’s decision to get his players to, in a way, celebrate after their draw against the Baggies, but it was more about an acknowledgement to the fans who stuck with them throughout the match.
Klopp admitted when he first arrived at Liverpool that he needed to change the mentality of supporters from doubters to believers and last weekend proved that he is having an effect in that respect.
“Everything is there but we concede one goal and it felt like the end of the world. But it is not the end of the world, you can always come back. I really don’t understand this pressure in this moment but the guys feel it and you can see it,” said Klopp after Liverpool drew 1-1 with Southampton in October (per the Daily Mirror).
Liverpool huffed and puffed for long spells against West Brom but they couldn’t quite make enough inroads beyond West Brom, but fans stayed until the end, believing the last-gasp equaliser would come.
Working hard in the famous red strip before their eyes is a young first XI who are not yet at their peak, and it will take some time for Klopp to mould them into a serious unit to be reckoned with.
However, the excitement that oozes out of that process is that Klopp is a coach who is an incredible motivator and man-manager and, therefore, he has the tools to take the players at his disposal to the top.
Liverpool have just four players who are 29 or over, coming towards the end of their careers. Skrtel and Milner are joined by Kolo Toure (34) and Jose Enrique (29) as being the Merseysiders’ current oldest players.
Klopp is a long-term coach renowned for staying at a club for number of years and with a young and hungry squad in his grasp, the future remains bright for Liverpool but patience is needed at the same time.
The return of Henderson from injury should be a massive boost for Klopp. Not only is he the leader with the armband and a huge vocal figure, but the midfielder is one of a few on the cusp of entering his peak years.
Henderson’s peak intertwines with the notion that he is tailor-made for Klopp’s high work-rate style of football, meaning the next few years in his career could be majestic, benefitting Liverpool greatly.
Mamadou Sakho (25) is another player who is entering into his peak and can be the cornerstone of Klopp’s Liverpool for years to come alongside skipper Henderson.
Benteke, although he only switched to Liverpool in the summer, is experienced in the Premier League and as he enters the same point in his career as Sakho and Henderson, he can be a big part of their future spine as well.
Liverpool’s draw with West Brom could have left many supporters feeling downhearted but when they think about the potential lying within their squad, they have plenty of reason to rejoice instead.