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Jurgen Klopp has solved lingering Liverpool problem and his successor will love the results

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Liverpool were forced into splashing out more than £150m on rebuild in summer and are now reaping the benefits in front of goal.

When Jurgen Klopp walks away from Liverpool at the end of the season, he’ll do so in the knowledge of bequeathing his successor a team with a foundation capable of challenging for honours for years to come.

And that has involved solving a problem long highlighted, even during the Reds’ greatest successes of his tenure, as a possible weakness.

Given Klopp’s propensity for attacking football, that his Liverpool side were, in terms of raw numbers, lacking creativity from midfield was a curious shortcoming.

Of course, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson having been the standard bearers for modern progressive full-back play and Liverpool possessing arguably the greatest forward triumvirate in the Premier League era in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, there was plenty of threat elsewhere.

But as that squad has broken up and Liverpool have had to evolve, so too has the engine room. Guile and threat, though, remained not quite as it should have been. Until this season.

Harvey Elliott’s hugely impressive cameo from the bench during the second half of the 3-1 Premier League win against Burnley at Anfield on Saturday saw him set up the third goal for Darwin Nunez, having already paved the way for Luis Diaz to nod Liverpool in front with as near to an assist as possible without it officially being counted as one.

Regardless, Elliott’s contribution was a 15th assist from the Liverpool midfield this season. In the whole of last season, the engine room managed 12. And it reflects an increase in goal threat throughout the team.

Despite the injuries that have affected Alexander-Arnold, Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas, the full-back areas are still contributing assists at exactly the same rate as last term, when they provided 28.

And up front there is a marked improvement, with the forward line having netted 62 goals and contributed 31 assists after 37 games, well on course to surpass last season’s tallies of 77 and 39 respectively from 53 matches, despite no longer having Roberto Firmino as an option.

Last summer’s midfield departures had certainly lost their way to goal. Fabinho failed to score in his final 52 Liverpool appearances, Jordan Henderson his last 81 while, most remarkably, James Milner didn’t net in his final 130 outings, although admittedly many were as substitute. Naby Keita managed only four goals in his last three seasons, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s five goals over the same period often came from an attacking role rather than in midfield. Even Thiago, who has been limited to just one very brief outing this term, has only three goals in 98 appearances to go with six assists.

It goes some way to explaining why Liverpool’s midfield contributed only 13 goals last season, three of which were scored by Fabio Carvalho who could be regarded as more of an attacker. By comparison, this season the engine room has 18 already, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Curtis Jones leading the way with five each.

With Szoboszlai facing a race against time to be fit for the League Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday week, there could be a position on the right side of the midfield triumvirate up for grabs. And Elliott will hope to have another chance to impress when Liverpool travel to Brentford on Saturday looking to strengthen their place at the top of the table.

“I need to influence the game, I need to score and create,” he says. “I feel a lot better than last season, I feel confident in myself more. I feel like my game has been taken to a different step.

“But for me it’s about: keep improving, keep enjoying my football and keep trying to better myself as a person and as a player. I’m still 20, still young and still learning my way, so it’s going to take some time. But I feel like I’m on the right path now and I just want to keep improving and keep going.”

And, as Liverpool’s increased potency in midfield has proven, it’s not just Elliott heading in the right direction this season. Whoever succeeds Klopp will know the Reds are now dangerous in every position.

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