Atletico Madrid midfielder Saúl Ñíguez has praised Liverpool counterpart Jordan Henderson for the unifying role he plays in Jurgen Klopp’s team.
The 29-year-old England international has been near ever-present in the Reds engine room and is certain to soon lift the club’s first league title since 1990.
Henderson’s wondrous season: Five key things to know…
- Jordan Henderson has created 26 chances in the Premier League this season, more than any other Liverpool midfielder.
- Henderson has scored three goals, more than any other Liverpool midfielder.
- Henderson has also won 37 tackles, more than any other Liverpool midfielder.
- Henderson’s 24 interceptions is more than any other Liverpool midfielder.
- Henderson has completed 1,318 passes, more than any otherLiverpool midfielder.
With 12 fixtures remaining Liverpool’s lead atop of the Premier League is a mind-blowing 25 points, though nearest rivals Manchester City can shorten that deficit, but chances of Pep Guardiola’s men winning a third championship on the bounce now seem remote.
It’s been coming considering Klopp, since his appointment in 2015, has installed the same approach, philosophy and system that guided Borussia Dortmund to their last Bundesliga crowns. Henderson and those around him have been more than crucial.
Much-maligned for most of his career, the spotlight is now well and truly on him following a strong 12 months and Saul, who’ll be coming up against the man dubbed ‘Hendo’ and his teammates feels their strength lies in a pack mentality.
Saul, no stranger to harassing the opposition attackers, has admired Liverpool from afar but feels Henderson in particular is worthy of special recognition given how it’s him that puts everything together.
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“It’s a different system and different players,” he said when asked if there’s comparison to be made with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
“They play more with a counter-attacking style with the three very good players up front and then those ‘perros de presa’ the ‘hunting dogs’ in midfield.
“They all run and press and they manage it so well because it’s not just running for the sake of running. It’s very well organised. If [Mohamed] Salah goes wide, then Henderson comes inside, if someone else goes inside, someone else goes outside.
“And maybe some people don’t rate Henderson as highly as [Georginio] Wijnaldum, [Naby] Keita or Fabinho but I think he is the one that brings that team together.
“Henderson does that so-called dirty work that Gabi [Fernandez] used to do for us, that I have to do, that Koke does. He is an example in so many facets of the game.”