Aldo: Zlatan is what weak Liverpool are missing
LIVERPOOL have been lacking a physical presence in their forward line this season and you might be surprised when I select the player who would have been a perfect fit for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
As I weigh up the respective merits of the best strikers in the Premier League right now, Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic stands out as the talisman any manager would want in his team.
Okay, Diego Costa has been annoyingly brilliant for Chelsea this season and he will lead them to the Premier League title if he stays fit.
I’m also a big fan of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku is having a great season at Everton, as he has proved himself to be a prolific finisher when chances come his way.
Yet I believe Ibrahimovic has more to offer than all of them, in a season when he has silenced the critics who were suggesting he was past his best at the age of 35.
I never had any doubts that big Zlatan would have a massive impact on and off the field at United and he has confirmed his class once again by already breaking through the 20-goal barrier for this season.
For as long as any of us can remember, Ibrahimovic has been a world-class striker who has been winning trophies on a regular basis, with his aura and presence just as significant as his goals for United boss Jose Mourinho this season.
The Red Devils chief will not be surprised by Ibrahimovic’s impact this season because he will have known that he had at least one more season left in him if he was used properly and the striker he already knew from their time together at Inter Milan has backed up that faith impressively.
So let’s dip into a hypothetical world and weigh up how Ibrahimovic would have fitted into Klopp’s Liverpool team if he had move to Anfield instead of Old Trafford.
I believe he would compliment any forward line and while a player of his imposing presence would change Liverpool’s attacking impetus, I think he would improve it.
Against opponents who are intent on doing little more than frustrate Liverpool into submission and hit them on the break – as Swansea, Wolves and Hull have done in recent weeks – you sometimes need a slightly more destructive approach.
I’m not saying Liverpool should go route one from first minute to last, because the players Klopp has in this squad are not designed to play that way.
However, using a powerful frontman is not a crime and the second balls Liverpool could make use of if they had a leader at the front of their team could open up so many options that were absent in a disastrous first month of 2017 for Klopp.
Liverpool have struggled against the lower ranked teams because they are too predictable in their game plan, with a collection of players who all offer a similar threat.
Daniel Sturridge is the striker who could and probably should have given Liverpool that alternative striking option this season, but he has been horribly off the pace for whatever reason.
When Sadio Mane jetted off for African Cup of Nations duty last month, it opened up a perfect opportunity for Sturridge to confirm he could be the main man at Liverpool all over again.
Instead, he turned in performances that added to the suspicion that he is not the player he once was.
I don’t think the Sturridge decline is comparable to that of Fernando Torres at Liverpool because the Spaniard downed tools when he decided he wanted to move to Chelsea and that was unforgivable.
I believe Sturridge’s problem is as much mental as it is physical at this stage, with all the injuries he has had meaning he is reluctant to push himself when it matters most to make his mark on the pitch.
What a shame that Liverpool have not had Sturridge at his best, because if the striker of two years ago was available to Klopp now, the season that has fallen apart in horrible fashion over the last few weeks might still be intact.
Put it this way, if you had to pick Ibrahimovic or Sturridge to lead your line right now, there would only be one winner.