When it comes to comeback stories in football very few compare to the reemergence of Alberto Moreno. In the previous season Liverpool fans called for him to be sold. His stock with Jurgen Klopp seemed to have fallen so low that last season James Milner was preferred as Liverpool’s first choice starting left back.
In fairness to Klopp some of Moreno’s performances did not help the situation. Most notably was his performances against Sevilla in the Europa League final at the end of the 2015/2016 season, and his performance against Arsenal at the start of last season.
When Jurgen Klopp pulled him from the starting line-up after his performance against Arsenal, I was highly critical of the German. He went out of his way to praise the player but bins him at the first opportunity he got. In hindsight this was a master stroke by Klopp.
Moreno was often marginalised by Liverpool fans and was the scapegoat for every goal and defeat suffered while he was playing. Mistakes by other players in the lead up to goals were often overlooked and Moreno bore the brunt of the fume from the terraces, much like Dejan Lovren, and some goalkeepers have during their time at the club.
Moreno’s time at Anfield was up last summer as Klopp bought Scottish left-back Andy Robertson for £10 million. Many fans, myself included, thought that Moreno would be sold and the money garnered from his sale would be reinvested in the playing squad. How wrong I was.
I will admit now I am a massive fan of Moreno. His ability to add an extra dimension to Liverpool’s attack is something very few teams have. Remember his goal against Spurs in his debut season for the reds. We all knew he had the ability but was prone to the odd defensive mistake. In Spain these mistakes are not highlighted as much as they are in the Premier League and players are allowed to make mistakes without been harangued by fans.
When Moreno moved to Liverpool I fell that he was of the opinion that his mistakes would be forgiven like they were in Seville and fans would move on. I imagine the overreaction to some of his performances came as a shock to him and the constant criticism from fans weighed heavily on his mind.
This season, Moreno is a different player. He is the player Liverpool expected him to be when he was signed from Sevilla. Instead of switching off to his defensive duties he embraces them. He has formed a partnership on Liverpool’s left hand side with Sadio Mane that many a manager in the Premier League is jealous of.
With Liverpool’s frailties in the centre of defence there for everyone to see it is a relief to see that Moreno has stepped up this season meaning the heart attack fans usually suffered when he was on the ball is now replaced with a sense of confidence and anticipation to see what he produces in the attacking area of the pitch.
He had cemented the left back position as his own before suffering an injury, and it was only this setback which saw him relinquish his place to the impressive Robertson. Those fans who had written him off as a failure are now starting to warm up to him, and instead of abuse from fans off the pitch, he is getting praise.
This was evident when he was called up to the Spanish squad for the upcoming international friendlies. This is something Moreno has failed to do since he singed for Liverpool. While the squad was an experimental one, if he can continue his performances for Liverpool this season he may just sneak a seat for Spain in next summer’s world cup in Russia.
Moreno’s transformation from flop to Klopp favourite is proof if you put your head down and work hard it will pay off, and this is something the player himself has acknowledged.
While he considered leaving Liverpool during the summer he has finally made his dream of playing regularly for Liverpool come true, and he can now push on to become another Klopp success story at Liverpool when he returns from injury.