THREAD: LFC Friendlies, World Cup Exits, Diaz Injury, Youngsters, and Transfer Talk
Lots to discuss!
This is a thread to discuss this week's two friendlies, starting today against Lyon, and all the fallout of the World Cup. Only Ibrahima Konaté from Liverpool remains in Qatar, as about 95% of the Premier League players left exited at the quarter-final stage.
Plus, mooted transfer targets Enzo Fernández and Sofyan Amrabat are both starring at, and still in, the World Cup. Jude Bellingham, a definite transfer target, is out. The price for all three has probably risen this winter, and where does that leave Liverpool?
On our side-Substack for such articles, our resident tactics and scouting analyst covered Fernández last week and will analyse Amrabat this week (note: separate paid subscription required, albeit just £3.50 a month for a minimum of one weekly paywalled detailed analysis.)
Next, how much time will the players eliminated get off, and will they be ready for the first two Premier League games right after Christmas? Virgil van Dijk, in particular, plays a ton of football. Obviously they won't lose much freshness in a week or two, but it could be vital for later in the season to give them a proper break now (albeit several barely played any minutes in Qatar).
Plus, outfield players who play for Man City and Man United played 3-4x as many World Cup minutes, and Liverpool had the fewest players at the competition from the Big Six. After the brutal slog of last season, which ended late, and the early start to this season, Liverpool clearly needed this break more than anyone (albeit the form had started to improve when the season went into hiatus). And now it could be that, by February and March, players at other clubs begin wilting.
Worryingly, Luis Díaz's knee went just minutes into training and now, instead of being back, he's out for another three months.
On the plus side, it's a chance for some young attacking players to shine in this weird mid-preseason. Kaide Gordon is fit again after almost a year of injury issues, and Ben Doak has been my tip for the top for about nine months now – albeit he's ready now more as an explosive super-sub, having just turned 17, with so much ability, pace and (for his age), strength. The sky is the limit, if he can stay fit and, as I mix contradictory metaphors, if he remains grounded.
Gordon is also a special talent, but it remains to be seen how he is after the injuries – so many of the Reds’ best teenage attacking talent has ended up missing 1-2 years recently, and that time lost developing playing nous and building strength can be hard to overcome. In Gordon’s case, he was so young and ahead of the game earlier in 2022 that it shouldn’t be too great a worry.
Anyway, discuss these issues below, and use this thread for discussion of today's Lyon match, and AC Milan (16th December).