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Moises Caicedo made a massive mistake picking Chelsea over Liverpool

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The midfielder could have been a key part of the impressive rebuilding job at Anfield but is instead struggling at Stamford Bridge.

The day before Liverpool played Chelsea at the start of the season, it had already emerged that then-Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo had rejected the Reds in favour of the Blues. Jamie Redknapp was stunned.

“I’m obviously highly biased in this one,” the former Liverpool midfielder said on Sky Sports on August 13, “but this is astonishing for me! Normally, Liverpool would always, always win this one hands down. I get the attraction of Chelsea. It’s a huge club. They’ve won so many things over the years. But I think in terms of the history of the clubs, I’m amazed.

“I just thought it was inevitable. I woke up as a Liverpool fan, very happy with that one. I thought he would look great in that red kit. I thought he would be the perfect signing for Liverpool.”

Double blow for Liverpool

Following confirmation of Caicedo’s move to Stamford Bridge for a British record £115 million ($145m), Liverpool responded by turning their attention back to Romeo Lavia, the Southampton starlet they had been pursuing all summer long. However, he ended up moving to west London too.

In the space of four days, Liverpool lost two transfer targets to Chelsea. Anfield icon Jamie Carragher called it “a joke” – and rival fans were unsurprisingly lining up to ridicule the Reds.

They’re not laughing anymore, though. Liverpool aren’t just riding high at the top of the Premier League going into Wednesday’s return clash with Chelsea at Anfield, they’re also revelling in the fact that missing out on Caicedo and Lavia proved a blessing in disguise.

‘My god, we were lucky, eh?!’

Klopp even quipped last month: “We had a few strange things happen in the transfer market in the summer but now I can say, ‘My god, were we lucky, eh?!’

“We didn’t know that in the moment, to be honest, and it didn’t feel like it in the moment. But I am really happy how things worked out.

“I had an extremely good feeling before we started pre-season with who we had already: Macca (Alexis Mac Allister) already in, and Szobo (Dominik Szoboszlai). But we obviously realised that other central defensive midfielders don’t want to join Liverpool!

“But then we found (Wataru) Endo, an exceptional player, and we also viewed [the rejections] as a chance [to bring in] Ryan (Gravenberch).”

Liverpool’s amazing midfield overhaul

Klopp’s glee is certainly understandable. Last summer’s midfield overhaul has gone better than anyone could have possibly envisaged.

There may have been evidence that time was catching up with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson last season but to see both depart for Saudi Arabia during the same summer led to understandable concerns that Liverpool would struggle without such two important leaders, particularly when one considers that James Milner, another great stalwart and standard-bearer of the Klopp, had already left for Brighton.

However, with the signings of Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Endo and Gravenberch, Liverpool have added some much-needed energy, versatility and goals to their midfield.

With Klopp’s help, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott have also raised their respective games this season, while youngsters James McConell and Bobby Clark both look capable of making the grade the Anfield.

When one considers, too, that both Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago Alcantara are expected to return to action next month, Liverpool are suddenly flush with options in a department that looked threadbare last season.

Liverpool

Caicedo criticism ‘not fair’

Wednesday’s opponents don’t lack numbers themselves, of course. But the difference is that very few players are excelling and Caicedo’s underwhelming displays are obviously attracting an awful lot of attention given his enormous transfer fee.

As former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley pointed out, the Ecuadorian really did look like a £100m player last season, so dynamic were his displays in Roberto De Zerbi’s brilliant Brighton team. However, he’s yet to come close to proving himself worth anything close to that figure this term.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino believes that the criticism Caicedo is copping is undeserved, arguing that there are mitigating factors in his poor performances.

“I think it’s a process,” the Argentine coach told reporters in December. “The temptation is to analyse and compare a player from one season to another when it’s not fair.

“It’s a different environment, different moment, how the situation is now. He arrived when we were already playing games in the Premier League, with no pre-season. It’s an emotional situation that happened with him.”

Liverpool

‘Money talks’

He certainly didn’t ask to be placed in the middle of a transfer tug of war. He has also insisted that the reason he chose Chelsea over Liverpool was that the Blues had been “supporting” him all summer long, whereas the Reds arrived quite late to the party.

Emmanuel Petit was among the first to rubbish that argument, claiming that both Caicedo and Lavia – who has made just one appearance this season because of injuries – joined Chelsea solely for financial reasons.

“Money talks for the clubs and for the players,” the former Blues midfielder told bettingsites.co.uk. “If I was Caicedo, I would have signed for Liverpool because I would reunite with Mac Allister and I would play with less pressure because so many of their midfield players left the club.

“I’m going to Liverpool instead of Chelsea because I can’t see a clear plan for what is going on at Chelsea.”

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No regrets for the Reds…

It’s difficult to disagree with the assertion that Caicedo would have fared far better at Anfield than Stamford Bridge, where umpteen big-money buys are floundering. He would have slotted straight into the Liverpool line-up, with the transition undoubtedly aided by the familiarity of playing alongside Mac Allister, who would have been free to take up his usual, more advanced role.

As it is, the resurgent Reds are challenging for four trophies with their brand new engine room, while the 22-year-old is struggling in a mid-table team, failing to make anything like the same impact this season as either Endo or, far more significantly, Mac Allister, who arrived on Merseyside for a third of the Caicedo fee and has really grown into the defensive midfield role thrust upon him at the start of the season.

Indeed, the World Cup winner hasn’t just created more chances in the Premier League this season than Caicedo, who has yet to score or assist for Chelsea, he’s also made more interceptions (20-14) and won possession more times than his fellow South American (103-90).

It is important to stress that Caicedo hasn’t been a disaster for Chelsea. There have been flashes of his best form and he still has plenty of time to realise his potential at Stamford Bridge. After all, he’s one of those Todd Boehly signings on an eight-year contract!

However, going into Wednesday’s game at Anfield, it’s clear that Klopp no longer has any regrets over Caicedo’s decision to pick Chelsea over Liverpool. Can Caicedo genuinely say the same?

 

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