Who should be Liverpool's next captain after Jordan Henderson?

Dan Vassie
10 months ago

For all the changes at Liverpool since 2015, there has been one constant. When fit, Jordan Henderson wears the captain's armband.

He's been vocal, athletic and his passion for the club is unwavering. Essentially, Henderson has all of the required attributes of a leader and that's why he's been captain for so long. But, with a midfield rebuild well underway, there seems to be two options on the table for the Liverpool skipper.

He could potentially depart the club — links to Saudi Arabia aren't going away — or the 33-year-old could take up a James Milner-esque role this season (minus the lactate test dominance) as an important squad player albeit with diminished game time.

In either eventuality, Jurgen Klopp needs to start thinking about other options for the captaincy —if not this season, then almost certainly next. In a team full of international captains and leaders, who best fits the bill?

Virgil van Dijk

© ProShots - Virgil van Dijk

Perhaps the most obvious candidate, our towering number four is already a key member of the Reds 'leadership group' and will step up to become club vice-captain following James Milner's summer departure. Even if Henderson stays for 2023/24, he will likely don the captain's armband regularly next season.

A man with a real aura and strong organisational instincts, van Dijk is already an international captain with the Netherlands, where he leads by example. There aren't many better defenders in world football, if any, and being the best is a bad trait for a skipper to have!

Another thing in the Dutchman's favour for the long-term captaincy is his extensive experience. At 32 years of age, the centre half has racked up 487 appearances, 222 of which have come in a Liverpool shirt.

Not only is he an elite player who understands what it means to play at the highest level, more importantly, he also understands Liverpool Football Club.

Van Dijk's availability record is also impressive — and important when considering the role of a captain. Barring a 254-day absence in the 2020/21 season — thanks to that horrendous challenge from Everton's Jordan Pickford — van Dijk has only missed 16 games through injury since joining the Reds in January 2018.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

If Liverpool are looking for a more long-term replacement — considering the age profile of Virgil van Dijk — what better place to look than a Scouser who has won the lot at the age of 24 and is likely to stay at the club for the rest of his career?

Already part of Liverpool's leadership group and long-touted as a future Reds captain, Alexander-Arnold has been the best attacking right-back in the world over the past four or five seasons, breaking record after record.

Not only does Alexander-Arnold have a staggering 71 career assists to his name, but he holds the record for having the most assists (13) by a defender in a single Premier League season in 2019/20, breaking his own record from the previous campaign.

Not only is he a supremely-talented footballer with age on his side, but the England international's positional switch could help with his case for more responsibility.

If Liverpool are to continue the system that brought them joy towards the end of last season, going to three at the back in possession, Alexander-Arnold will see much more game time in the centre of the pitch.

Liverpool love a midfielder as captain, so passing the mantle down to a scouser venturing into the midfield seems like a fairytale.

He would be a popular choice among the fans.

Mohamed Salah

It would be futile to list all of Salah's achievements since putting on a Liverpool kit for the first time. We would quite simply run out of room, or daylight — whichever comes first.

However, for a man with 260 goal contributions in just 305 appearances for the club, winning every single trophy along the way, it's not hard to see why fans have dubbed Salah their Egyptian King.

The 31-year-old understands the culture at Liverpool, and the expectations of fans. He demands greatness from not only himself, but from everyone around him.

Immediately after missing out on the Champions League places last season was confirmed, Salah was the first Reds player to publicly apologise for the club's performances on the pitch on social media.

In what was an incredibly underwhelming 2022/23 season overall, the winger's contributions were a shining light. In 51 appearances, Salah scored 30 goals and recorded 16 assists in all competitions — a ridiculous return considering, but one that has come to be expected due to the sheer brilliance of the man.

Giving the captaincy to the man who leads the Egyptian national team would be nothing short of deserved when based on his individual and club achievements, but even more so when considering his relentless ambition, drive and responsibility.

Few set higher standards for themselves and those around them in training and on the pitch, and even fewer are as adored as the Egyptian King.

Alisson Becker

Ever since joining the club and becoming Liverpool's number one in 2018, the Brazilian has become one of the most clutch players in the world.

It doesn't matter what season you look at, the Reds would always be several points worse off without their peerless keeper.

From the match-defining save in the dying moments of the Champions game against Napoli back in 2018 that put the Reds on their way to winning a sixth European Cup, to his header against West Brom in 2021, Alisson always delivers in the big moments.

Really only Salah has matched his consistency in recent years.

When he's fit, Alisson's an ever-present on the teamsheet and is already a member of the 'leadership group'. He has already captained the team before, including for a Champions League group game in 2021, after which he revealed that the players voted for him to take the armband.

Andrew Robertson

© Proshots - Andy Robertson

The final name to consider from the Reds established 'leadership group' is Robertson.

When you google leadership, desire and hunger, the first image that comes up is Scotland's finest.

Physical traits and attributes in footballers are often fairly easy to break down — and don't get me wrong, Andy Robertson is an incredibly gifted footballer, as shown by his ridiculous assist numbers for the club — but mentality and what someone brings to a team off the ball is harder to measure.

In a team of incredibly hard workers, Robertson stands out. The man simply just does not stop running. When fans recall their favourite Robertson moments — and there are a lot to chose from — many will think all the way back to the 2017/18 season when the left back charged forward in a one-man press of what seemed like Manchester City's entire starting XI.

For an £8m fee from relegated Hull, Andy Roberson gone down as one of Liverpool's best ever signings, and that moment in his debut season foreshadowed exactly why the Scotsman is so vital to the club.

At the age of 29, the Scotland skipper has all the ingredients for a Liverpool captain. The only thing that may hinder his chances is the Reds' system change and search for a new left-footed centre half, which may ultimately mean less game time.

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