Despite ultimately losing to Manchester United in the final of the International Champions Cup, Liverpool generally had a successful tour of America, with most of the players beginning to show some form heading into the new season.
However, the following three players will be particularly pleased with their performances and will hope to have staked a claim for a starting berth come the new season.
Coutinho garnered praise from Brendan Rodgers before the start of the tour, with his manager calling him the brains of the team, and this trip will have done nothing to take away from that reputation. Coutinho has looked fresh and hungry after being inexplicably left out of Scolari’s Brazil World Cup squad and has once again demonstrated his ability to play in a variety of positions in the attacking quartet, even spending 15 minutes or so as the central striker against Manchester United.
He has cashed in on the absences of Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic through injury and cemented his place as a starter by repeatedly being Liverpool’s best player on this tour. His weight of pass still seemed somewhat off against Manchester United, often not putting the ball far enough beyond the defender but when he did get it right he created clear chances for his teammates and he will now be expected to be one of Liverpool’s main creative forces once again this season.
Liverpool fans know the dangers of putting their hopes on yong players who show flashes of brilliance; the names of Dani Pacheco and Neil Mellor are testament to how quickly some talented teenagers can fade away at the top level. This is why many people were wary when Raheem Sterling first burst onto the scene. Yes, he was young, skilful and fast, but would he be anything more than a flash in the pan?
This is why some worried when he was taken out of the team by Brendan Rodgers in the second half of the 2012/2013 season and sighed with despondency after an abject 3-1 loss to Hull in late 2013. However, since then Sterling has grown exponentially, impressing for both Liverpool and England in 2014 and his development looks to have continued here.
His pace is still his principle asset at this stage, but his technical ability and decision making are now also very strong, and he won two penalties over the course of the tour by simply thinking and acting too fast for the defenders he was facing. Once again, he will be champing at the bit to be deployed against opposition defences this term.
Can was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen as back up for the midfield, but he may well have played himself into contention for a first team place. He has looked powerful and energetic as an anchor to the midfield, and is certainly an upgrade on the increasingly tired looking Lucas and perhaps even on the occasionally inconsistent Steven Gerrard in the defensive midfield position.
On the evidence of this tour, Can may well make the midfield anchor his own this season and allow Gerrard to be played in a more attacking role as well as being slowly fazed out of the team to begin to build for the future.