Liverpool squad grades for 2021 as Salah scores an A* but Thiago struggles

Liverpool's last 12 months have been a bit of a mixed bag.

They ended one season with a whimper before starting the next with a bang and, Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Leicester City aside, the Reds have now firmly re-inserted themselves into the title picture.

After putting up such a torrid defence of their Premier League crown during the last campaign, plenty had started to wonder whether Jurgen Klopp's previously all-conquering side were just a flash in the pan.

Six defeats during the second half of the season, and getting dumped out of the Champions League by a rather weak Real Madrid only added fuel to the fire, but their critics haven't had much to gloat about recently.

The fabulous form of Mohamed Salah – whose 22 goals in 24 games so far is a record bettered only by Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski across Europe's top leagues – has propelled Liverpool back to the summit of English football.

All of the club's forwards have been firing on all cylinders in fact, which is a welcome change from last season when the goals appeared to dry up.

The Reds finished the last campaign with 68 league goals. They've already scored 50 this season and we're only at the half-way point.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is the club's best creator when he's on form, is playing with confidence again following last season's wobble which saw him fall down the pecking order with England.

The return of Virgil van Dijk has been a huge help too, as has the recent form of new arrival Ibrahima Konate and Klopp's side look solid at the back again for the first time in over a year.

Aside from Mo Salah, who has been Liverpool's best player in 2021? Give us your view in the comments section below…

Positives aside though, Thiago Alcantara's form is still a concern. In spite of his mesmerising volley against Porto last month, the Spaniard continues to underwhelm.

Klopp's preference for worker bee midfielders over glamourous ball-playing types means Thiago feels like a dodecagonal peg in a round hole, despite his obvious talents.

The same could be said of Naby Keita, who has admittedly improved after finally getting a decent run in the side, but hasn't quite filled the shoes of Gini Wijnaldum yet.

After a run of 13 victories from 15 games, Liverpool have failed to win any of their last three and have lost valuable ground in the title race.

Trips to Leicester and Tottenham aren't exactly straightforward, but Liverpool's fear factor appears to have momentarily disappeared.

But with Chelsea faltering and City still striker-less, the title race is far from being settled and while the Reds end the year trophy-less for the first time since 2018, they appear to have put most of their troubles behind them.

Here are the 2021 grades for the entire Liverpool squad:

Alisson Becker – B

Caoimhín Kelleher – B

Trent Alexander-Arnold – A

Neco Williams – C

Joel Matip – C

Virgil van Dijk – B

Joe Gomez – D

Ibrahima Konate – B

Nat Phillips – D

Andy Robertson – B

Kostas Tsimikas – C

Fabinho – C

Thiago Alcantara – D

Naby Keita – C

James Milner – C

Jordan Henderson – B

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – C

Curtis Jones – C

Harvey Elliott – D

Takumi Minamino – C

Diogo Jota – A

Sadio Mane – A

Roberto Firmino – B

Divock Origi – C

Mohamed Salah – A*

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