7 Oct 2015

Trouble Ahead? Klopp wanted 'unplayable' Liverpool star at Dortmund. Now, the problem is fitting him in

Ex-Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp remains the hot favourite to succeed Brendan Rodgers at Anfield, and his appointment is sure to be a massive boost for everyone at the club, including Christian Benteke, a player Klopp seemingly admired during his time at BVB.

On Tuesday evening, the Daily Mail claimed:

"Klopp considered signing [Benteke] for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2013, when [BVB] were replacing Robert Lewandowski".

This appears to be true. In May 2013, Benteke's agent, Eric Kismet, told ESPN:

"I am aware of the Dortmund representation at Villa Park for the Chelsea match, but Christian is still a Villa player and nothing has changed on that point".

If Klopp tried to sign Benteke - who Steven Gerrard claims is 'unplayable' - then there's a good chance that the Belgian will feature heavily in the German's plans, but it may not be as easy as that:

* Based on his time at Dortmund, Klopp's favoured formation is 4231, which means that there's only room for one striker in the starting line-up.

* It's possible to play a second striker just behind the main striker (ostensibly as a number-10), but neither Benteke, nor Sturridge - Liverpool's two main forwards - have experience of playing that role.

* Additionally, using Benteke or Sturridge in a deeper role (as part of the attacking three) will mean that one of either Coutinho, Firmino, or Lallana, will regularly miss out.

* Of the two, Sturridge is more suited to the role. Example formation:

---------------- Mignolet
Clyne ------ Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
------------ Milner - Hendo
--- Coutinho -- Sturridge ---- Firmino
---------------- Benteke

It's a possibility, but Sturridge is most effective as a central striker, and there's no sense in playing Liverpool's most prolific goalscorer out of position.

Playing Benteke as a number-10 is (or should be) a non-starter, and when both are fit, Sturridge should undoubtedly be Liverpool's number-one striker.

If Klopp agrees - and continues to play 4231 - then Benteke may find himself stuck on the bench for most of the season. Unless, of course, Liverpool's manager-elect decides change his approach, and utilises a system that fits the squad.

A potential solution is the 4132 formation, which Klopp occasionally utilised at Dortmund:

---------------- Mignolet
Clyne ------ Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
----------------- Milner
--- Hendo ------ Coutinho ---- Firmino
----------- Benteke -- Sturridge

In this scenario, Milner is a defensive-midfielder, and I sincerely hope that Klopp converts him to that role full-time. This particular formation lacks width, and Henderson is out of position, but:

* Ibe and Origi can alternate with Firmino.

* Hendo can also play centrally, with Coutinho coming in from the left.

---------------- Mignolet
Clyne ------ Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
----------------- Milner
--- Ibe ------- Henderson -- Coutinho
----------- Benteke -- Sturridge

Liverpool have plenty of options, and quite a few quality players, and if Klopp gets them firing on all cylinders, a Champions League place is an achievable goal.

Whatever happens, I sincerely hope that Klopp sticks to his footballing philosophy, and doesn't betray his long-held principles, which is (arguably) one of the things that derailed Brendan Rodgers.

Author: Jaimie K


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