Liverpool’s secret Wijnaldum replacement is at club already and will save Klopp millions

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Blues player ratings

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and transfer guru Michael Edwards have faced heavy criticism this summer for their apparent failure to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, but it seems the Dutchman’s ready-made replacement is already waiting in the wings. Liverpool have been linked with numerous players this summer, but might be able to avoid spending anything before Tuesday’s deadline.

Liverpool’s midfield remains stacked despite Wijnaldum’s departure, with Thiago Alcantara, Harvey Elliott, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all viable options.

The central midfielder, 30, joined Paris Saint-Germain this summer after leaving Anfield on a free at the end of his contract.

There had been suggestions that he would be willing to stay, but the length of contract on offer wasn’t enough to tempt him.

In the end, the lure of PSG was enough for him to snub a move to crisis-ridden Barcelona, leaving Liverpool to plan for life without him.

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma has been touted as a potential replacement, but it looks like Liverpool are set to stick with what they’ve got. But is that such a bad thing?

Klopp started Liverpool’s Premier League game against Chelsea on Sunday by giving 18-year-old prospect Elliott a chance in the middle of the park.

He’s expected to have a big future at Anfield after an impressive loan at Blackburn Rovers last year, but perhaps his most impressive role on Sunday was helping to unleash Wijnaldum’s long-term replacement – Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The right-back has long been tipped to make the move into the middle of midfield.

His passing range, the way he reads the game, his timing and discipline seem to be qualities making him the perfect option in the middle.

But, as Jamie Carragher correctly pointed out during the game, there’s no need to take him out of the defence.

With Liverpool dominant in possession against Thomas Tuchel’s side, Alexander-Arnold was able to drift inside and act as a shadow midfielder.

He seemed more than comfortably picking up the ball anywhere in the middle of the park and putting his foot on it before picking out the perfect pass.

Having Elliott in the middle on the right side of a three, with Henderson and Fabinho beside him, allowed for Alexander-Arnold to drift in with the confidence that if the ball was played in behind, there would be bodies available to deal with it.

Having Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip available at centre-back was key to Alexander-Arnold’s free movement, and the two centre-backs’ presence in the defence after a year out was clear for all to see.

If Liverpool are able to keep their defensive line fit and strong – the arrival of Ibrahima Konate should help that significantly – then there’s no reason why Alexander-Arnold can’t continue to roam forward.

Elliott’s presence on the right side of the midfield three, and the pace he possesses, will help to stop Liverpool from being countered if Alexander-Arnold gets caught out of position high up the pitch.

If that is to be the case, Klopp might not have to dip into the transfer market after all.

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