Barring transfers in or out, who is in Liverpool's best midfield three?

With improved health, the Reds quietly should have plenty of depth, but no clear-cut starting three
Liverpool FC v Fulham FC - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Fulham FC - Premier League / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

After years of looking at the midfield as a real weakness, Liverpool fans can finally start to have some optimism and even excitement regarding the position group.

There's plenty of midfield talent in the squad, much of it young and theoretically on the rise, but it's not immediately apparent who stands out from the pack. So, who should be Arne Slot's "first choice" midfield three that crack the XI in the most important matches?

Let's assume, for the sake of this thought experiment, that there won't be any offseason changes. There should be, of course, but it's most reasonable to only talk about the players who are currently in red. With that in mind, let's review the key options;

  • Alexis Mac Allister
  • Wataru Endō
  • Dominik Szoboszlai
  • Curtis Jones
  • Harvey Elliott
  • Stefan Bajcetic
  • Ryan Gravenberch
  • Bobby Clark

Liverpool's midfield has a lot of variety

There are very broad ranges of experience, skill sets, and so much more in this deep group of solid players, so there's a lot to consider.

Let's start off with the three big-match starters from Jürgen Klopp's final season; Mac Allister, Endō, and Szoboszlai.

Let's remove a bit of drama from this piece; Mac Allister gets one of the three spots. He had some rougher outings towards the end of the year after the long campaign left him worn weary, but his class is unquestionable, and although he should have a few more days off this upcoming season than he did in the last, those days should not include the biggest ones on the calendar.

Alexis Mac Allister, Mario Lemina
Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

Then, there's Endō, who was viewed as more of a squad player when bought, but far outperformed that label for much of the season.

Unfortunately, he also struggled down the stretch, starting far earlier than Mac Allister, and at his age, he's probably going to get worse rather than better in this regard.

He's been a phenomenal value acquisition, but Liverpool fans should hope to see him a bit more sporadically this year.

Then there's Szoboszlai, an absolutely intriguing player. Early on, he was looking like the best of the group, nearly the best player in the whole XI at times, but he slipped in a big way over the second half of the season.

With that being said, he hasn't really been able to play in his natural position for Liverpool; he shines for Hungary playing as a left wing or left midfielder, whereas he's usually more centered for the Reds.

There's plenty of competition on the left side at this moment, but rather than including him as a true midfielder, let's think about Szoboszlai to get his minutes where he'd be best.

Who are the best of the rest in midfield?

So, that leaves us with two spots to fill in our "top three." We can immediately eliminate a few players; Jones is a steady presence but visibly not one of Liverpool's top talents,

Bobby Clark is a promising teenager but is not yet ready to be an everyday option, and Elliott's value is in his versatility; he's rarely going to be a day-in-day-out starter, but will flash in and out of the XI in various spots.

Liverpool Supporters, Harvey Elliott
Liverpool FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Remaining are two players for two spots- right? Not exactly- we're pulling someone across position groups and into this trio.

That's right, we're finally going to do what England has somehow done before Liverpool- move Trent Alexander-Arnold into the midfield.

It's no secret that the Scouse legend is a remarkable playmaker, nor that he does have some defensive shortcomings.

We've seen him used as a midfielder briefly under Klopp- he started some matches in the position at the end of the 2022-23 season, and has served as a double pivot fullback more recently- and he's always looked phenomenal in the role.

Now, he could be getting his first extended run at the position with England, and hopefully, Slot is watching.

Trent's defensive frailties have been outrageously overblown, but it's true that his defending is not what makes him special.

He's been more than good enough to justify keeping him at right back for the past few years, especially as Liverpool haven't really had a viable option to replace him at that spot, but with the emergence of Conor Bradley, that is no longer the case.

It's time to play arguably the club's best player at the spot where he can play his best- Alexander-Arnold joins Mac Allister as the second everyday midfielder.

The challenge for the third and final spot in midfield

This third spot is one where there could be some rotation, but of course, for any given match there can be only one more starter- Ryan Gravenberch or Stefan Bajcetic.

The Netherlands international looked fantastic to end the season, and will likely have the full attention of his new Dutch manager.

However, Bajcetic turned tons of heads during the 2022-23 season before missing extensive time this past year with injury. If he's fully healthy, it will be extremely hard to argue against him having a major role with the team.


The group of three we've selected lends itself nicely to clearly-defined roles for all three members. Alexander-Arnold will be stepping from defense to defensive midfield, on the right side of course.

Bajcetic, a part-time defender himself, will be his counterpart on the left. The creative, often attack-minded Mac Allister will be the link between the midfield and front line as a central attacking midfielder.

Carving out these roles could be more key than it was in the past, as Klopp's 4-3-3 midfield often took a flat shape.

Meanwhile, the 4-2-3-1 formation Slot is generally expected to employ will require a definite stratification between the CAM and the two lower-lying midfielders.

Naturally, any number of things could upset this balance on any given matchday.

Alexander-Arnold could be needed as a fullback, Cody Gakpo could get the start at left wing and Slot might move Szoboszlai inside rather than sitting him down entirely, Bajcetic could deal with fitness issues again, and the Dutch Gravenberch could be given lots of chances with a Dutch captain and Dutch manager.

Beyond all of that, there could and realistically should be more midfield sales and purchases in the transfer market this summer.

But all of those factors notwithstanding, the trio of Mac Allister, Bajcetic, and Alexander-Arnold would provide a well-rounded, creative and talented foundation for Liverpool's XI as the squad heads into the Slot era with an intention of both building for the future and chasing trophies to be lifted in 2025.