Last season, Liverpool finished an unsatisfactory 8th in the Premier League. And it was enough to suggest that many things were going to change this summer, from players to tactics. A few new arrivals and a few departures were expected. Klopp has completed 6 new signings so far and all the new arrivals are expected to have an impact next season. Also, a few players are expected to leave. One of them is full-back Jon Flanagan. Glasgow Celtic, managed by former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, were reportedly interested in signing the player but Klopp has clearly stated that Flanagan is in his future plans and he is not for sale. And possibly Klopp is right.
Flanagan recently returned to full match-fitness after an 18-month spell on the sidelines. Flanagan was exceptional in his breakthrough season (2013/14). After the Christmas break that season, he was the best fullback in the Premier League and he was named in England’s standby squad. Just 21 then, a lot was expected from him. Brazilian World Cup legend Cafu stated that Flanagan could become one of the best full-backs in the world. Following this statement, fans dubbed him as the “Scouse Cafu”. A serious knee injury at the end of the 2013/14 season meant he would miss 18 months of football. His recovery was quite good and he returned to the pitch in the second half of last season. Klopp eased him through his comeback and Flanagan managed 8 appearances before the season ended.
Flanagan is a right back but plays equally well on the left side of the pitch. After Nathaniel Clyne, Flanagan is Liverpool’s best right back. On the left side, Alberto Moreno is the first choice and then comes Brad Smith. Flanagan, in the 2013/14 season gave impressive displays as a left back. And Moreno and Brad Smith are no better than Flanagan. Flanagan can be played on the right as well as the left and so, having him in the squad is obviously advantageous for Liverpool.
Liverpool do not have a deep pocket and nor do they have European football to offer next season. So attracting a versatile fullback and managing his wages will be tough. Flanagan has missed one and a half year of competitive football owing to injury. But he is just 23 and time is on his side. At such a young age, he is extremely talented and offers a lot at the full back position. When fully fit, Flanagan is a great player defensively. He does not hesitate in throwing his body to block shots. Also, he makes strong tackles which makes life difficult for the opposition wingers. Going forward, he offers pace and delivers in good crosses. He is a more conventional full-back who believes in fulfilling defensive duties first.
Flanagan has just returned to full match-fitness. Before his injury, he was the best full-back Liverpool had and so he should be given one chance. A loan move to give him game time and to improve his fitness and form is also an option but Liverpool should not sell their “Scouse Cafu”.