Five Liverpool players are facing a doubtful future as a midfield tandem stakes their claim.
As the seasons officially shift from one to the next, a considerable number of Liverpool players may be relieved to see the end of the 2022/23 season.
And at least one person for whom the final weekend arrived far too quickly.
Joe Gomez caused a minor uproar last summer when he agreed to a new long-term contract after struggling for game time after recovering from a significant knee injury that limited his minutes the previous season. That decision appeared to pay off, as he started 13 of Liverpool’s 22 games leading up to the World Cup.
That, however, did not tell the story of his erratic form. He was replaced at half-time in the Champions League against Napoli, and he followed a fantastic performance in the Premier League triumph over Manchester City with a disappointing performance against West Ham United a few days later.
It was the same story in the New Year, until a hamstring injury in a 5-2 loss to Real Madrid at home. While he was only out for a fortnight, Gomez only appeared in two more of Liverpool’s remaining 17 games.
Centre-back colleague Joel Matip has only eight appearances prior to the World Cup due to injury, one of which was a late Champions League winner against Ajax. He struggled in defeats at Brighton and Wolves, and while he scored another headed goal at West Ham United, the fact that he had only played three times since February suggested he had dropped down the pecking order.
Despite regular action in the first half of the season, Kostas Tsimikas’ form too often deserted him, with his underwhelming displays when called upon in the closing weeks doing little to help his case for more minutes at left-back in the new season.
Thiago Alcantara had another tough season after suffering a hamstring injury on the first Premier League weekend at Fulham, which kept him out for over two months. He was a regular after his recovery and took on more midfield duty during the Reds’ dismal start to the season until, after 10 consecutive starts, he went down with a hip injury that terminated his season after surgery after a brief comeback in April.
Summer commitment Fabio Carvalho started the season strongly, making numerous appearances and scoring against Bournemouth and Newcastle United. However, getting substituted at half-time against Everton and then Brighton foreshadowed what was to come, with the 20-year-old appearing for only 11 minutes in the Premier League after starting the 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest in October.
Curtis Jones made his first start of the season at the City Ground after suffering a stress fracture in his bone, which delayed his next appearance in a Premier League XI until April. Jones, on the other hand, was retained for the season’s final unbeaten run and thrived in the new-look formation, playing on the left of the midfield three.
And it was a breakthrough season for Stefan Bajcetic, who impressed on tour during pre-season, made his Premier League and Champions League debuts from the bench, scored on his second top-flight outing on Boxing Day at Aston Villa, and, at 18, forced his way into the starting lineup in January before his season was cut short early in March due to an abductor injury. He, like Jones, will be ready to go in August.
End of season ratings: Gomez 5, Tsimikas 5, Thiago 6, Jones 7, Matip 6, Carvalho 5, Bajcetic 8