There was a special moment at Anfield on Wednesday night as Jon Flanagan made his first Liverpool appearance after more than 600 days on the sidelines.
The 23-year-old full-back was given a rapturous reception from the Reds’ faithful as he was sent on by Jurgen Klopp five minutes into the second half against Exeter City.
Before the match, Steven Gerrard posted a touching Instagram message welcoming Flanagan back to action, while Brazilian legend Cafu tweeted his delight to see the right-back back on the pitch during the game. The England international also has an admirer in one of the world’s current best players: Luis Suarez.
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The former Liverpool star, who joined Barcelona in the summer of 2014, has been a huge fan of the defender for some time now.
In fact, in an autobiography released by the world-class striker a couple of years ago, Flanagan was hailed as Liverpool’s new Jamie Carragher.
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Suarez on Flanagan
"I think Liverpool have a new Carragher too, and that's Jon Flanagan,” Suarez wrote at the time. “He's very, very similar. He has the same personality, he's aggressive on the pitch. He may be limited in technical terms, but he knows that and plays to his strengths.
“When Carra played as a full-back, if he went up the line he knew what he had to do and what not to do. Flanagan is the same. He knows. He has the spirit and hunger that Carra had, the same ambition to squeeze every last drop of talent out of himself.
“He's going to go a very long way. Players like that will always go a long way. People may say, 'he hasn't got this, he hasn't got that', but a player like him will succeed. He's not easy to face in training either."
Praise doesn't come much higher than that
That’s some praise when you consider who wrote it. Suarez has played both with and against some of the world’s best defenders and clearly knows his stuff.
And to compare him to Liverpool legend Carragher - well, praise doesn’t really come much higher than that for a young defender from Merseyside.
Flanagan impressed during the 2013-14 campaign and Klopp will be hoping the full-back can return to those levels following 18 months out of action.
It could be a while before Liverpool fans see Flanagan at his best again, but the likes of Gerrard and Suarez are clearly convinced he has what it takes to make it to the very top.
Liverpool fans: is Jon Flanagan the new Jamie Carragher? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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