‘The brains of the operation’ – player ratings for Liverpool’s title winners | Football

Liverpool secured their first title for 30 years on Thursday night as Manchester City lost 2-1 against Chelsea. They clinched the title with seven games remaining. Here we look at the contributions of the players who made it possible. Marks are for Premier League games only.

Alisson – 9

It reflects the Brazilian’s excellence and consistency that he should miss three months of the season through injury – the only reason he doesn’t get a 10 – and still be in contention to retain the Golden Gloves award he won last year. Always makes a telling difference and not only on the back line, as his assist for Mo Salah’s goal against Manchester United in January showed.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson



Alisson missed the start of the season but excelled on his return. Photograph: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Adrián – 7

There was genuine anxiety around Anfield when Alisson tore a calf muscle in the opening league game but the late summer replacement for Simon Mignolet exceeded all expectations. Yes there were errors – and no, the ones in the Champions League and FA Cup do not effect this rating – but the stand-in keeper helped build vital and unstoppable momentum in the early months of the campaign.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9

Continues to improve by the season, just like this team. Equalled his own record for the number of Premier League assists by a defender – 12 – and featured in every match that brought the title back to his boyhood club. Has developed into a right-back who can shape a game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool



Trent Alexander-Arnold’s continued improvement has been vital for Liverpool. Photograph: David Blunsden/ACPS/Shutterstock

Joe Gomez – 8

On the periphery at the start of the season, and made a few lapses before shutdown, but had a noticeable impact when he re-established himself in the heart of defence. Liverpool cruised clear of the pack thanks in part to seven consecutive clean sheets between 7 December and 19 January. Gomez played an integral role in each one.

Joël Matip – 7

Started where he left off in the Champions League final with an authoritative start that justified Klopp’s decision to partner him with Virgil van Dijk. Unfortunately, and not for the first time, injury derailed his contribution after he aggravated a knee problem at Old Trafford in October. Started the post-break derby against Everton but got injured again.

Dejan Lovren– 7

Often the fall-guy for any hiccup in Liverpool’s season – and they were few and far between – when in truth he delivered a series of solid displays and was instrumental in victories over Leicester and Manchester City early on. Watford was a bad night but, as Klopp rightly stated, that was also the case for 10 other Liverpool players.

Virgil van Dijk – 10

The defensive rock is arguably being judged to a different standard since finishing second to Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d’Or but, if there was one player Liverpool could not afford to lose en route to the title, it was the finest centre-half in the game right now. A slight dip in form prompted the entire team to wobble in February but otherwise he was imperious and ever-present.

Andy Robertson – 9

The Scotland captain’s game altered slightly this season but his importance remained constant. Offensively the left-back has not been as effective as last term – when he produced 11 Premier League assists compared with eight so far – but his defensive work has improved considerably, prompting opponents to target Liverpool’s right rather than left flank.

Andy Robertson of Liverpool



Andy Robertson’s importance has remained constant. Photograph: David Blunsden/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Neco Williams – 5

The 19-year-old has shown in a handful of appearances that Liverpool have another gifted, homegrown right back in their ranks. As with Jones and Elliott, his mark would be much higher if based on the domestic cup games in which he has impressed this season. Made his league debut in the restart rout of Crystal Palace and fitted in seamlessly.

James Milner – 8

The new two-year contract he was awarded before turning 34 in January was fully justified. It irritates the veteran to be described as versatile or a strong presence in the dressing room because, though both are undoubtedly true, his value remains in being a high quality Premier League player. A nerveless 90th-minute penalty against Leicester in October was one demonstration of that.

Jordan Henderson – 9

The captain’s finest season in a Liverpool shirt with recognition finally arriving for both his importance to the team and leadership of it. Lifting the Champions League trophy in Madrid last year improved the self-confidence and self-awareness of the 29-year-old, explained Klopp, and Liverpool’s midfield reaped the benefit. The team felt his absence on occasion too.


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Fabinho – 8

Around the time he inspired the emphatic defeat of Manchester City in November the Brazilian was being discussed as Liverpool’s third consecutive Player of the Year winner after Salah and Van Dijk. He was that good. The momentum was lost for two months when he sustained an ankle injury against Napoli and he struggled upon his return, although the restart has brought renewed form.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 8

The Netherlands international has made more league appearances for the new champions this season than any other midfielder, illustrating his centrality to Klopp’s system and the level of trust the manager has in him. Capable of more match-defining moments than he produces, but his quality under pressure cannot be faulted. Selfless.

Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool



Georginio Wijnaldum has been a pivotal part of Liverpool’s midfield. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6

The fit-again midfielder has shown his value as a squad player and shown evidence that his quality and intelligence on the ball has not been diminished by long-term injury. But he requires a sustained run of games to recapture peak form and, amid fierce competition, that has been hard to find.

Adam Lallana – 6

This could be the England midfielder’s final season at Anfield and, if so, he will leave with a champions’ medal well-earned. Twelve of Lallana’s 15 league appearances have come from the bench but he made telling contributions, including the late equaliser at Old Trafford and helping Liverpool regain control in the away win at Tottenham.

Naby Keïta – 6

Liverpool are still awaiting a consistent return on their £52.75m investment and for Keïta to realise his undoubted ability in a red shirt. The Guinea international has the penetrating runs, passes and goals that other midfielders do not provide but has shown it only in brief bursts. A succession of injuries again interrupted his season.

Curtis Jones – 5

The talented academy graduate really made his mark in the FA Cup this season – and his rating would be much higher if that competition and that goal against Everton were taken into consideration – and two brief substitute appearances in the Premier League will have whetted the appetite for what lies ahead.

Harvey Elliott – 5

The 17-year-old demonstrated his rich potential in the FA and Carabao Cups but also made two brief Premier League appearances as a substitute against Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. His continued development will be rewarded with a new three-year contract soon.

Xherdan Shaqiri – 5

Scored a fine goal in an encouraging first start of the Premier League season, the 5-2 derby demolition of Everton, but barely featured before or after. A succession of muscle injuries have been largely to blame for the Switzerland international’s limited involvement, and he is likely to move on before next season.

Mohamed Salah – 9

After a slow-burning start to the season, at least by his standards, the striker was just clicking into gear when lockdown struck. His importance and output was consistent throughout, however. Marked his 100th league appearance with his 70th league goal for the club and became the first Liverpool player since Michael Owen 17 years ago to hit the 20-goal mark in three successive seasons.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates a goal.



Mo Salah continued to set the highest of standards, despite a slow start. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Roberto Firmino – 9

In contrast to Salah, lockdown gave the Brazilian a necessary opportunity to recharge as the demands of constant football for club and country were beginning to take a toll in the preceding weeks. Previously, and in keeping with his contribution throughout Klopp’s reign, the centre-forward had been the brains of the operation and engineered several crucial victories, particularly on the road.

Sadio Mané – 10

The undisputed star of Liverpool’s front line this season and, along with Van Dijk, of a historic campaign. The Senegal striker has improved year-on-year under Klopp and that trajectory has made him one of the smartest and most dangerous forwards in the game. Scored critical goals, won decisive penalties and tormented opposition defences regularly.

Divock Origi – 7

A difficult season for last year’s Champions League hero but with mitigating circumstances. The remarkable form and fitness levels of the established front three restricted their back-up to five league starts and, when he did feature, it was often on the left where he is less comfortable. Showed what he can do at centre-forward when tormenting Everton again in December.

Takumi Minamino – 5

Far too early to judge the January signing from Salzburg. Showed enough in his two Champions League group appearances against Liverpool to justify the decision to activate a bargain £7.25m release clause. Only fleeting opportunities to recapture that form for Klopp’s team so far.


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