The Best Buy of the Season
There seems to be no stopping Mo Salah.
Liverpool’s Egyptian marksman has scored an astonishing 38 goals for the Reds since June. His latest, against Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinal yesterday morning, set the scene for an impressive 3-0 victory.
But when it comes to the best buy of the year even Mo, purchased from Roma for GBP36.9 million, might have to take a back seat to one of his Liverpool team mates.
Andy Robertson, the Liverpool left back, is beginning to look more and more the best value transfer of the year.
Signed for just GBP8 million from relegated Hull City, the Scot has been instrumental in the development of Liverpool this season into one of the most exciting counter-attacking teams in Europe.
Robertson’s game is based on speed and passing. His work rate, best evidenced by his press in the 4-3 league victory over City has endeared him to Liverpool fans. His attacking is based around his ability to whip dangerous balls into the penalty area and make intelligent runs to provide support and draw away opponents from the ball.
But it is the big improvement of his defensive capabilities that have marked him out since joining Liverpool.
Initially he found it hard to adjust to the a new footballing style but as manager Jurgen Klopp revealed on The Big Interview podcast Robertson needed to take it upon himself to take his career to another level.
Robertson is no different from any player that wants to get better. The first step is always that players must feel the need to improve themselves. They must want to take that next step.
In the case of Robertson it was ingraining a desire to win every challenge, become known as a defender, and want to take the ball from his opponents that has made the difference.
It should not come as a surprise that he was able to make this change and subscribe to the Klopp philosophy of being the best that you can be. Responding to adversity has been a hallmark of his footballing experience from when he was a young man.
It was Glasgow’s Celtic, the club he and his family loved as fans that inadvertently set Robertson up for success by releasing him when he was a schoolboy. At the time it was the worst thing that had happened to him, but now he describes it as “the best thing that happened to me.”
From Celtic he had to restart his career by first going to Queens Park as an amateur in the Scottish fourth division before joining Dundee United.
At both clubs Robertson completed the duties of a young footballer, including cleaning boots of the senior professionals. In fact, he was still cleaning boots as part of his dressing room requirements when he was named in the Scottish national team squad for the first time.
That humility while staying hungry to succeed is a template that any young footballer would be advised to follow.
With Liverpool now favoured to progress to the semifinals of the Champions League the experience of Andy Robertson shows anything is possible in football.
On 5 May 2017 he came on as a substitute in relegated Hull’s 7-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. A year on the second leg of the Champions League semifinals will be played.
Given his meteoric rise it would be no surprise if Robertson was marking Leo Messi of Barcelona or Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid for a place in the Champions League final come the first week of May 2018.
Regardless of that outcome the fact the 24 year old has established himself as Liverpool’s left back and appears to have a long career ahead of him is the reason why he could be the best buy of the season. For a relatively low transfer fee, Liverpool has a player with a growth mindset that will go from strength to strength in the years ahead.
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