Liverpool boss Klopp knows what to look for in Wijnaldum replacement after Brighton loss

Liverpool v Brighton: Match in pictures

Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat against Brighton was a major setback in their bid to retain the Premier League title, and occurred just after Manchester City extended their lead at the summit by three points. The defeat will, however, have shown Jurgen Klopp exactly what he needs to do in the summer.

Liverpool are now lagging seriously behind in the Premier League title race, and are at risk of seeing their crown slip away from them before too long.

They were sloppy against Brighton and paid the price for their failure to convert any of their chances as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat.

Liverpool were too blunt in front of goal against Brighton, and there seemed to be no link between the midfield and front three throughout.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Thiago Alcantara and James Milner played together in the middle of the park and all did their jobs effectively, but seemed to counteract each other at times.

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Thiago is arguably Liverpool’s best defensive-minded midfielder, and was clearly dropping deep to cover up the gap in front of their makeshift back four.

Milner did his job well, but you’d imagine Jordan Henderson will come out of defence and take his place in the midfield as soon as Ozan Kabak, Fabinho and Ben Davies are available to play.

Wijnaldum, however, is an interesting one. The Dutch midfielder can do it all on the pitch, he recovers the ball well and always looks to create.

But chances are he’ll be leaving in the summer, with no update on his contract extension expected any time soon and there seemingly being no optimism that he will extend past the summer.

With that in mind, Liverpool will need a replacement, and Wednesday’s defeat to Brighton will give Klopp the perfect chance to look into a crystal ball and predict what his team will look like next year.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez back in the side and Kabak, Fabinho and Davies all available, there’s no need to think Henderson will have to drop back out of midfield.

The club captain will retake his place in the midfield and play alongside Thiago, and both will be able to provide a defensive shield in front of the back due to their talents in breaking up play, tackling and recovering the ball.

But if Klopp is to continue playing a 4-3-3 formation, and there’s no suggestion he won’t, he’ll need to replace Wijnaldum in the midfield trio and find someone who compliments the other two. He needs someone with creativity and an eye for goal.

Diogo Jota’s return from injury could slightly alter his plans, as the Portuguese star’s form forced Klopp to play a 4-2-3-1 formation at times due to his goalscoring prowess.

But Liverpool will still need someone to replace what Wijnaldum offers in the middle, as playing a 4-3-3 is still Klopp’s favoured formation to play.

Liverpool have creativity in abundance, as has been evident by Thiago’s ability to pick apart a defence.

But when the Spaniard is forced to drop deep, as he did against Brighton, Liverpool can be forced into pot-shots from the edge of the area and crosses going out of play or intercepted by defenders.

If Wijnaldum is to leave, Klopp knows exactly what they need to do in the summer.

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