Ah, what do I have to say about the enigma of Jon Flanagan? Since his first-team debut in April 2011, his productivity to the Liverpool defence began to prove increasingly priceless to the Reds. However, he now has to make a decision that will affect his future at the club.
Flanagan likens to club legend Steven Gerrard. His look resembles a young Steven Gerrard, bar the haircut! Not everybody was on the same wavelength though when the local lad made his first team debut for the Reds in April 2011 in a draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Flanagan began to maintain a respectable level of composure in his performances, attracting good impressions from supporters & pundits alike, as he won the Young Player Of The Year in 2010-2011.
His impressive cameo season led to him signing a long-term contract extension at Liverpool FC in July 2011. However, despite the promise he attained in his first campaign, he did begin the following season under the radar slightly, mostly featuring off the substitutes bench/usually covering for former defender Martin Kelly.
Then, Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, the man who inspired him to sign a new contract at the club the previous season, was relieved of his duties in the summer of 2012. Did this activity in the club affect his confidence to break into the first team at the time? Well, the answer to this question proved to be yes, temporarily at least. As new manager Brendan Rodgers arrived from Swansea, he integrated with Flanagan very little in 2012-2013, as the 23-year old only made two appearances in all competitions all season.
2013-2014 proved to be a stepping stone for both Jon Flanagan & Liverpool, though. Flanagan began to receive much more playing time at the club, and began to be viewed as a reliable left back who would receive consistent first-team football at the club. He made 25 appearances throughout the whole season, and was hugely impressive in defence, making a smooth transition in the team. He was the defender of the season for Liverpool, as the Reds began to challenge seriously for the Barclays Premier League title for the first time in five years. The 2013-2014 campaign also saw him bag his only goal of his whole career.
Times have changed, unfortunately for the local lad. He’s only made 8 appearances over two seasons since; he didn’t make a single cap for the Merseysiders in 2014-2015 due to injury, and made 8 last season.
Jon has every right to be frustrated. Three seasons ago, he was being likened to the likes of Philipp Lahm, but now he’s a young player who everyone seems to have forgotten about. He could feature in Jurgen Klopp’s plans in the future, but injury has plagued his previous seasons at the club, which promised so much.
There is no guarantee that he’ll be featured in the first team on a regular basis either; which is what Flanagan is after. Him moving to newly promoted Burnley is beneficial for his career, but should he remain at Liverpool, he will only be facing increasing competition for his place, but he will be a loss to Liverpool as his composed performances will be a pedigree we will miss.
Written by Stephen Lindell (@SteLindellLFC)