How Stefan Baisetic earned Jurgen Klopp’s Trust and a Long-Term Role at Liverpool


Amid the doom and gloom surrounding Liverpool’s performances after returning from a break at the World Cup, Stefan Baisetic was a ray of light in extremely difficult circumstances.

To suggest that Liverpool somehow got back on the right track after the last two performances would be a big exaggeration.

The football we see now from this team is still a million miles away from the standards they previously set, and every week it seems that any real hopes of saving getting into the top four are gradually fading.

This, of course, may change, but a cursory glance at the Premier League table says everything about how far Liverpool have retreated and how difficult a task they face if they want to prevent an all-out catastrophe this season.

However, against such a gloomy background, one cannot discount the fact that Liverpool managed to stay at zero against Wolves and Chelsea in a row.

They may have been a bit lucky, but they scored eight goals in the three previous games against Brentford, Wolverhampton and Brighton, losing two and snatching a draw in the other, it’s a step — albeit a small one — in the right direction. .

Their attacking play was sharp, incoherent and tasteless – not helped by the continued absence of several key strikers – but, above all, Liverpool need to find a way to become harder to beat again.

In the last two games, they have at least demonstrated a better level of defensive organization and midfield solidity than we have seen in a long time.

At the center of this was Stefan Baisetic, who was arguably Liverpool’s best player of the match in the 1-0 FA Cup victory over Wolves, deservedly retaining his place in the starting line-up against Chelsea.

He wasn’t as influential in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Anfield, but he was by no means out of his depth and certainly didn’t do his burgeoning reputation any harm.

As questions about Liverpool’s midfield shortcomings and lack of investment continue to be asked — without strengthening, apparently, this month – one thing is indisputable: a hard job of rebuilding is required in the summer.

Over the past few weeks, Baisetic has definitely shown why he should be an important part of this conversation.

Gaining Klopp’s trust

Until last summer, it’s fair to say that Baysetic’s name probably wasn’t on most people’s radars as a real first-team option for Liverpool.

He moved from Celta to Vigo on a deal worth around £224,000 in December 2020 — shortly before new Brexit rules banned English clubs from signing foreign players under the age of 18 — his participation in pre-season was the first chance for many fans to see him. In battle.

Despite the fact that he attracted attention with his pre-season performances, few could really predict that in six months Baysetic would start games for an adult team, including against Man City away from home and Chelsea at Anfield.

In part, he benefited from a sharp drop in the form of both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, but ultimately it is a reflection of his quality and maturity that he was able to gain the trust of the coach so quickly and rise in the hierarchy.

Some may point to players such as Pedro Chirivella and Tyler Morton as proof that a few promising performances at a young age do not necessarily lead to becoming a regular player of the main team, but their games for Liverpool took place either in frequently changing cup teams. or, if necessary, due to a critical injury.

Bajcetic, on the contrary, was selected in the match against Chelsea on merit, and not a few suitable and available senior players, which says a lot about how much respect Klopp treats him.

For a coach who has often acted relatively cautiously during crises in the past, launching Baysetic instead of the fully rested Henderson and Fabinho was a really bold decision.

One can argue about whether it paid off, given that Liverpool did not win, and Baysetic was depressed by his warning in the first half and noticeably began to get tired during the game.

But it gave a powerful signal that no one is guaranteed a place in the team and that those who take advantage of their opportunities will be rewarded.

A rare combination of skills

When Baysetic missed Ezri Consu and punched the ball through the legs of Tyrone Mings to lead Liverpool 3-1 against Aston Villa last month, it was a moment of real surprise.

Partly because he was only on the pitch for a couple of minutes, and also because he was replaced by Henderson, presumably in order to close the game and protect Liverpool’s narrow advantage.

To see him stride into the penalty area and hit a weaker leg with such a swing was a wonderful sight, demonstrating a degree of confidence and composure far beyond what you would normally expect from an 18-year-old defensive midfielder. (who initially started as a central defender).

This smooth, easy-on-the-eye style was evident in other aspects of his game, especially when he receives the ball in a confined space and accurately directs it around the corner with his first touch.

Or when he seems to be under pressure from an opponent, only to lower his shoulder and turn into space—a skill you suspect he picked up from Thiago, with whom he has shown signs of a promising rapport.

In addition to the technical prowess usually inherent in Spanish midfielders, Bajcetic clearly enjoys the less glamorous aspects of his role: tackles, winning head shots and game breaks with clever interceptions.

It is this sense of anticipation and positional discipline that allows him to overcome some of his physical limitations as he gains mass and becomes more accustomed to the intensity needed to play such a difficult role at the elite level, week after week.

It goes without saying that there is still a huge scope for development, especially in terms of increasing endurance and expanding its range and transmission accuracy.

However, at such a young age, he already has an extensive set of tools to work with, and if he can use his recent performances and continue to get opportunities, we can expect to see an increasingly comprehensive and impressive version of Baisetic in the months ahead.

Determining your place in Liverpool’s future

There may only be a 350-minute sample at the moment, but judging by his recent performances, there is no real reason (other than injuries) why Baisetic should not be a regular player in the first team for the rest of the season.

Given that Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will leave as free agents in the summer, Fabinho and Henderson seem to be on a downward trajectory, uncertainty about the best position of Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones are struggling to start their development, there is a reason to claim that Thiago is the only senior midfielder, who doesn’t have serious question marks hanging over his head.

Even in this case, Thiago will turn 32 in the summer, and although his fitness indicators have been relatively good this season, his performance cannot be counted on in the long term.

It is here that Baisetic has a real chance to continue to gain a stable number of minutes in the short term, as well as establish himself as part of the restructuring of Liverpool’s midfield ahead of next season and beyond.

This does not mean that he will necessarily be in the starting line-up or that his appearance means that Liverpool can afford a more relaxed approach to transfers, but it is quite possible that he will play a significant role.

In an ideal world, he would be seen as an unexpected bonus without too much pressure on his shoulders, and not as a direct solution to one of Liverpool’s transfer tasks in midfield — an addition, not a replacement for new additions.

Even if that means he’ll be somewhere between fourth and sixth on Liverpool’s midfield options list for the 2023/24 season, it’s not a bad place for Baisetic at this stage of his career.

Of course, football players rarely develop completely linearly, so at some point there may well be a scenario when a loan move will be the best option for Baisetic, as he continues to hone his skills.

At the moment, however, it looks full of potential.

If Liverpool can help him unlock it, they may have a serious prospect.


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