Adam Travers (@AdamPTravers)
For the last 3 years, Liverpool’s attacking trident – Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah – have been the benchmark. It has a bit of everything – speed, tenacity, work rate, willingness, indefatigability, goals, and assists – absolutely everything.
And so when a new attacking trio emerges in Europe, they are instantly compared to Liverpool’s trident; a trident with history; a trident which has developed over time; a trident which adapts with the times, and continues to adapt, innovate, improvise, and overcome.
The Early Days
There was, of course, an ‘original front three’ – Phillipe Coutinho, Firmino and Mane. Mo Salah’s arrival in 2017 resahped the formula with Coutinho – previously filling in on the left wing – moving into central midfield role.
Contray to popular belief, Coutinho’s eventful departure in Janury 2018 wasn’t an issue. Far from it.
Indeed, at the time there were desperate calls for a ‘Coutinho replacement’ due to fears of a drop-off, coupled with the fact the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge (forever injury-prone) weren’t adeqent, or better: sufficient, replacements if one of the front three was to pick up a knock or a long-term injury.
It’s important to note that before Xherdan Shaqiri’s signature some six-to-seven months after Coutinho left for Barcelona, Adam Lallana was used as an unconventional stop-gap on the right side when needed.
Additionally, Divock Origi has always been, to be blunt, inconsistent which is, whatever people may argue, a fair assessment regardless of the moments – glorious and wonderous, Champions-League-trophy-clinching-moments – he’s provided. Shaqiri, concomitantly, has struggled significantly with injuries in the last year.
The addition of the Portaguese international Diogo Jota this summer, coupled with the fact Takumi Minamino looks to be finally finding his feet, have provided Liverpool fans with confidence that there won’t be an overreliance on the first-choice trio, like in previous years.
It’s been a long time coming but Minamino looks have settled, having joined half-way through 19/20.
The 25-year-old never – ever – stops running. Against Ajax last night, Minamino looked bullish, full of confidence, blending panache, pragmatism and some party tricks too. His link up play with new man Jota was also a relatively untalked about plus point. Here’s hoping for more…
Jota’s signature brought with it an element of excitement due to how it played out. Much like Fabinho’s announcement in 2018, it felt like the transfer was first rumoured, quickly verified by a top journalist, and then done and dusted within one day.
Critics say he’s inconsistent, yet he has still delivered close to 10 goals a season for Wolves, and he’s just 23-years-old with plenty of time to improve and better himself under the tutelage of one of the best managers in football. If he progresses to become the player the club want him to be, then there’s no reason why he can’t one day perhaps replace Mane.
You see, for the first time in a while it feels like Liverpool possess viable attacking options on the bench. Fans can be justifiably confident the the backups – the so-called ‘periphery’ – can deliver the goods if necessary.
Its an exciting time. Up the Reds.