Liverpool continue their pre-season tour with a match against a Malaysia XI at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Friday night. Ahead of that clash, FourFourTwo takes a look at the pre-season performance of their new signings so far…
Following a disappointing sixth-place finish last year the Reds have re-tooled, snapping up a host of new talent. So, does Brendan Rodgers now have enough depth and quality at his disposal to push for a return to the top four? The Reds have largely cruised to a 4-0 win over a Thailand XI, a 2-1 triumph over Brisbane Roar and finally a 2-0 victory over Adelaide United. Here is how the newcomers have fared ahead of the trip to Kuala Lumpur.
Turning 23 on Thursday, Ings is tipped to be a squad player in his first season on Merseyside. But with big-money Brazilian signing Roberto Firmino rested from this tour, Christian Benteke completing a medical in Liverpool and Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini also absent, Ings has been given a chance. Showing promise along with some rust, he started up front in a 4-2-3-1 formation against the Thailand XI before being used in the unusual position of wide on the right against the Roar. He then came off the bench in the clash against Adelaide United and scored his first goal in the 88th minute to cap off a 2-0 victory.
Brought in on a free transfer from Manchester City, there has been enormous debate among Liverpool fans about the decision to sign the 29-year-old midfielder. Considering his pre-season performance to date, critics of the move could soon be few and far between. Lively and energetic as a second-half substitute against the Thai line-up, he was then named joint man-of-the-match, with another new Red in Joe Gomez, after scoring the winning goal in Brisbane. He backed that up with another goal against Adelaide United before being substituted midway through the second half. Played in his favoured central midfield role thus far, the signs are extremely encouraging for the England international.
Signed from Southampton in a bid to solve Liverpool’s troubles at right-back, the 24-year-old has commenced in more than satisfactory style in Liverpool Red. Combining well with Jordan Ibe on the right as a second-half substitute in the tour opener in Bangkok, he then played 90 minutes against Brisbane and started to show his true worth. Resolute in defence, he added plenty in attack in a performance that should offer hope to all Scousers. It was more of the same against Adelaide, as Clyne grew in stature the further the game went on, providing the assist for Ings’ late match-sealing goal.
If anyone could challenge Milner for Liverpool’s player of the tour to date, it would have to be surprise packet Gomez. Used mostly at fullback, the 18-year-old has started all three games and the praise for his composure and maturity has been nothing short of gushing. Quick, strong and comfortable in possession, he produced an outstanding 45-minute cameo against the Thai selection. He was then declared “capable of first-team football this season” by more than one scribe following another superb effort against Brisbane. One lovely piece of footwork next up against Adelaide (see Vine below) and the teenager was suddenly being dubbed ‘Cristiano Gomez’ on Twitter. A reference to Real Madrid star Ronaldo might be marginal hyperbole at this stage, but the kid couldn’t have done much more up until this point.
— Anfield Chat (@TheAnfieldChat) July 20, 2015
Brought in on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers, Bogdan has widely been considered a back-up to Simon Mignolet, rather than a genuine challenger to his fellow Belgian as Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper. Unfortunately for the 27-year-old, he hasn’t been given much of a chance to prove his worth just yet. Starting the tour-opener against the Thai XI, he barely had a save to make and had few troubles keeping a clean sheet before being substituted – along with all 10 teammates – at half-time. He did show some strong distribution skills, something Mignolet can struggle with, and Bogdan will be hoping for some more opportunities before the season gets underway.