Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that Steven Gerrard will play a crucial role if £16 million summer signing Mario Balotelli is to succeed at Anfield.
Gerrard has found himself playing a deeper role on Merseyside over the last 12 months and not impacted games as he has once done previously.
After Lucas Leiva came off the bench during Liverpool's 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, that saw the Reds skipper play a more advanced role than of late and highlighted how so much class remained in his two feet when going forward.
The former England captain linked up significantly well with Balotelli and Rodgers thinks that this will be a continued factor in his side.
Speaking to the club's official website, the Northern Irishman said: "You could see his quality and his ability to combine with Balotelli straight away.
"Steven is a player who makes the game look simple and Mario knows he is playing with one of the greats of the game. Mario is a guy who needs certain types of passes and Steven is the sort of player who can provide them.
"He definitely added something to our game in that position, though I feel he has been outstanding in the deeper position too. It was refreshing to see the cleverness and brightness he brought, and that was his third tough game in a week."
Wasted playing deeper
Since Gerrard switched to playing the role protecting the Liverpool defence, he has been wasted.
The Whiston-native was once one of, if not the most feared midfielder in the world. He would drive at defences using his pace and power to see of the opposition and make things happen going forward.
When playing further back, it is a rare sight for Gerrard to really commit himself to a Liverpool attack as he knows he has defensive duties to fulfil. Instead, the 34-year-old remains holding the fort for Liverpool and cannot impact the game properly.
Even when he has the ball when playing deeper, many side have come accustomed to Gerrard's role and closely had a man on him. Steven Naismith done this excellently during the 1-1 draw with Everton, as did Andreas Weidmanm when Liverpool were beaten 1-0.
History of link-ups
Throughout his career, Gerrard has been superb at linking up with strikers. He did so with Michael Owen for a short spell, however it is the partnership he and Fernando Torres had that sticks out.
The pair understood each other so well and knew were one-another would be all of the time. There were so many cases when Gerrard would be the provider for the Spaniard and enjoyed success in 2009 when aiding the club to finish 2nd in the Premier League.
Gerrard also had an excellent understanding with Luis Saurez during his time on Merseyside and has assisted Daniel Sturridge on several occasions.
Against West Brom, he and Balotelli showed signs they could play together. There was one moment when Gerrard's fancy flip found the Italian who had his shot saved. If this becomes present more often, then we could see Balotelli notch his second goal for his new club sooner rather than later.
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