None of our current midfielders are going to get into a greatest Liverpool XI of the 21st Century (let alone of all time) because individually they're not of the standard of Stevie, Xabi, Didi, Masch and some would even argue Lucas but collectively for what Jürgen wants from his three in the middle, they work and work extremely well in that regard.
Henderson, I've always stated that I like and think there's a player in there but I think he's become more important to us as a leader on the pitch than his actual ability to play football. He still doesn't take responsibility as much as I'd like with the ball but you can certainly see the difference when he's not on the pitch.
Fabinho, I don't rate anywhere near as highly as anyone else. For me, he's a poor man's Lucas and I didn't think Lucas was great either. When he does something good, it's raved about but the amount of times he's left by the opposition is alarming for me. Numerous times during a game, the opposition will have a free run at the centre halves because Fabinho has been skipped past on the halfway line. This season, he didn't play against Burnley, Norwich (League Cup), Watford, United, Preston (League Cup, Brighton and we kept clean sheets in all but one of those games - the two all draw with Brighton. With him starting this year, we've only kept four clean sheets. But he can pick a pass and does have a good shot on him when he decides to let fly. And occasionally he does have a good defensive performance as well as allowing other midfielders to play in further advanced positions which gets better performances out of them.
Thiago is a difficult one because for years our midfield was lambasted for not being creative enough, not offering anything that meaningful in an attacking sense so we went out and got Thiago, who was going to fill that void. And thus far hasn't set the world on fire. He certainly has ability and some of the passes he plays are outstanding. But it's not been the perfect fit that many expected - injuries obviously play a part as does settling into a new country. And the pace of the game seems to catch him out at times. But we've seen the ability is there and it's very evident that his performances have improved once he was shifted slightly further forward and not asked to be the deepest of the three midfielders.
Keita is quite possibly one of the most frustrating players I've ever seen play for our club. He's either f**king exceptional and well on his way to cementing himself as a first choice regular or absolutely abysmal and well on his way out of the club. Now since his debut against West Ham, where he was man of the match for me, I've always said I liked him. There's deffo a player in there. But then the following week he'll be disastrous. And whatever they're doing this year with Joel Matip, do with Naby because he needs to be kept fit. Unfortunately though, keeping Naby fit for a run of 10-15 games, seems as likely as Everton winning a trophy. A fit and on-form Naby Keita is a cert for our midfield three in my opinion.
Milner is a good head to have around the place. His experience will help the others around him, even though most of them aren't that young themselves any more. He'll be invaluable to the likes of Morton coming through. I do get pissed off with him when he gives needless fouls away in dangerous areas because he can't run any more but as I've said, for his experience alone he warrants a place in the squad. And his versatility will always come in handy.
Jones I think believes his own hype. He burst onto the scene with the goal against Everton, played well towards the end of that season as well. Got a few more games than what he probably should of last year due to our midfielders filling in as defenders and this year hasn't really got going yet. But because of the good start he had to his Liverpool career and everyone bigging him up to be the next big thing from our Academy, I think it went to his head and he tried to show off too much rather than doing what our midfield is famed for and that's keeping things simple. I think he'll probably end up as a squad player for us at best.
Elliott, I don't see as a central midfielder long-term. Or at least not in the traditional sense. He impressed when he played there though, linking up well with Trent and Mo down the right hand side. But I fully expect his future to be one of the front three rather than the central three.
Tyler Morton has been incredible in his few brief outtings. Far too early to say whether he'll make the grade here and he's probably benefitting from injuries in the way Nat Phillips did at centre half last season. But if he can continue to develop, then he's got a chance at making it here if his first few games are anything to go by. Just needs to remain grounded.
So the midfield isn't filled with great individuals, in my opinion, but collectively they do the job Jürgen wants them to do. And ultimately, that's getting us results, trophies and a ton of excitement watching us play. So as long as it is working it can't be malfunctioning. And every season there seems to be a slight tweak in how we play and I think this year has been aimed at the midfield taking more shots from distance. We seem a lot more prepared to take a dig from outside the box this season than in previous years.
Though if I never see Chamberlain play for Liverpool again, I wouldn't be sorry. He's one player I've never rated and was genuinely pissed off when we bought from Arsenal.