Jurgen Klopp reckons super-smart Jordan Henderson can emulate Javier Mascherano and German legend Lothar Mattaus – and finish his career as a centre-back.
But Klopp will have no worries about drafting Henderson in for another stint in Liverpool ’s rearguard and is confident the England midfield star could comfortably make it a permanent move to extend his career.
Former Anfield star Mascherano converted from a central midfielder into a long term defensive partner for Gerard Pique after leaving Liverpool for Barcelona in 2010.
The Argentinian star won five La Liga’s, five Copa de Ray titles, two Champions League’s and three Spanish Super Cups at the Nou Camp, mostly playing central defence.
Klopp’s German compatriot Mattaus ended his days at the top as a sweeper in his second spell at Bayern Munich. And Klopp has no doubts that, like midfield legend Mattaus, Henderson’s outstanding skills as a dictator in the middle of the pitch make his talents more than transferable to defence in the twilight of his playing days.
“He could play centre back – but we should not forget that Hendo is actually an 8,” says Klopp.
“And that makes it even more special. He is an 8 transformed into a 6 transformed into a 4. He can play all these positions.
“His physical skills are obvious but it shows just how football smart he is because they are completely different positions. Especially the 8. There are some teams that play with a 6 that deep that it is three at the back with proper wing-backs, but we never played like this.
“If we did that would make the transition really easy. We play with a 6 a different way. That is how it is.
“So he has done really well for us there. I wish him a long career as well and I wish he can work in the position he can finish his career.
“Centre-half is one of the positions he can definitely play and thankfully for us he can play that.
“What makes it so exciting with Hendo is that with his football skills he can be very influential in our build-up as well, so that helps.
“He had a big hand in the first goal against Tottenham,a nice little chip for Sadio and then the square pass for Bobby. That was good.
“Hopefully he can stay fit. That is important he can play there for that age.”
Klopp heads to back to the capital today knowing there’s no margin for slip up’s – with the Kop boss believing Manchester City ’s form is looking ominous for his defending champions and the other title chasers.
“It could be the most exiting race for a while with so many different teams involved, but City could run away now.
“They are in a good position with one game in hand and playing good football. If we cannot win it again, then I don’t know who will be champions.
“Will it be the lowest points, I don’t know how many points are out there to get. But probably. I think Manchester United won with 75 in the past.
“What we see is it is a difficult season for all teams maybe apart from West Ham and Leicester who look pretty good.
“A lot of teams look good but we all have our ups and downs. It is a year where you need to be lucky with injuries, more so than in other years,” says Klopp.
“But I can imagine looking from outside it is really exciting for the neutral.”