Jordan Henderson truth emerges for Liverpool after Fabinho injury blow
Jordan Henderson is a big fan of Fabinho. The Liverpool skipper appreciates the elite qualities of his teammate to such an extent that he's changed his position in recent times to accommodate him.
Indeed, Henderson was operating as a holding midfielder before Fabinho arrived at the club, with Jurgen Klopp keen to harvest his defensive qualities. Since the Brazilian's capture from AS Monaco in 2018, however, Henderson has primarily been deployed as a box-to-box midfielder of sorts.
"At that position, I think he's incredible," Henderson told Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport. "When you've got someone like him in the team who, for me, is the best in the world at it, he's a huge player for the way we play."
The Reds are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple at present but on Tuesday night, Liverpool's first-choice no.6 picked up a hamstring issue. The 28-year-old was substituted for Henderson, who entered the fray with the scores level after 30 minutes.
For the rest of the contest, Klopp's captain showcased a maturity on the field by playing simple, doing the basics, recovering loose balls, refraining from making mistakes and adding an element of control in the middle of the park.
Henderson behaves totally different when he's deployed as a no.6 rather than a no.8. He's encouraged to offer protection and assurance from deep compared to his usual cocktail of intensity, energy and industry when fielded further forward.
When he's able to stick to what he's good at, the English midfielder is a highly effective member of the team and that is perhaps why Klopp has an subtle underlying belief that his skipper is best when instructed to hold the fort.
"I think I'm more effective as a no.8, but if you were to ask the gaffer, I'm not sure what he's say actually," Henderson told Ferdinand with a nervous smile on his face.
The consistency of the 31-year-old is perhaps one of his best traits, but it is reasonable to suggest that each of his turbulent periods of form over the years have coincided with greater offensive demands on his shoulders.
When he essentially tries to do too much in the final third rather than simply playing within his limitations, his game can suffer.
"For us, it’s a complex position," Klopp once said about the no.8 role in his favoured 4-3-3 system. "You have to be offensive, you have to be defensive, you have to be really in between the lines, you can drop but not always in the last line to receive the ball and these kind of things."
When he's deployed as a holding player, on the other hand, Liverpool tend to see the best version of Henderson and with Fabinho looking at a short spell on the sidelines, he could occupy the role at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.
Regardless, Klopp knows that he's got a pair of top holding players at his disposal ahead of the finale of Liverpool's season.