Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has praised the improvements made by Reds captain Jordan Henderson this season.
The 26-year-old has started the campaign in fine form, producing a number of excellent performances in a new role at the base of Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield.
Henderson has scored once and assisted another in nine games, with his strike against Chelsea in September voted the Premier League’s Goal of the Month.
More impressive, however, has been Henderson’s leadership, and Alonso highlighted this, and his energy, in emphasising his importance.
“It’s not just the performances on the pitch, from the outside it looks like he has taken the leading role in the changing room,” the Spaniard said.
“After Stevie, he got the captain’s armband and he wanted to try to continue what they did, and he’s managing it so far. With Klopp and Lucas as well, he’s doing well.
“Jordan has so much energy, he plays well and he’s very complete. Not just as a holding midfielder, he’s able to get closer to the box. He’s becoming a very important player.”
Alonso, who is still starting regularly for Bayern Munich at the age of 34, also described the difficulty of adapting to the No. 6 role, as Henderson has this season.
“You need to adapt to your team and team-mates, and the opponent as well,” he continied.
“It’s different when you play a game against a team that tries to play or a team that wants to play long balls.
“And you need to be more focused on the second ball or try to be more physical.
“The more complete you are, the better you will adapt for the long season. Henderson does it very well.”
Receiving such glowing praise from a world-class midfielder like Alonso will be music to Henderson’s ears.
But more importantly, Alonso is a player who is well aware of the demands of life at Liverpool and in the Premier League, and in an era without him and Steven Gerrard, it is crucial players like Henderson take up that mantle.