With a potentially significant injury sustained by the Brazillian it does not necessarily have to spell an end to Liverpool’s creativity.
Alberto scored a second-half hat-trick for the U-21s in Tuesday evening’s 5-2 victory over their Sunderland counterparts at Anfield.
By all accounts he took a while to get in to the game but when he did, the Spanish forward showed his deadly attacking instinct.
While at Barcelona B Alberto could play in a variety of positions. On the left or right wing and even up top as a false number 9.
It was his displays as a number 10 in behind the striker however which really caught the eye.
The former Sevilla academy prospect was at his most effective here, providing a number of key assists and more crucially, increasing his goal tally.
It would be easy to suggest in hindsight that replacing Coutinho with the 20-year-old against Swansea would have been a better option than the hitherto ineffectual Aspas.
But it is one that needs to be made regardless. Both Coutinho and Alberto are at their optimum level in the centre-attacking midfield role and it is why against Sunderland, should the former miss out, Liverpool will be well covered.
Right now there appears only one drawback to Alberto’s game and that is quite obviously his lack of pace. When he has featured this season, against Notts County and Manchester United, the Reds’ attacks would often break down as retreating defenders could easily catch up with him.
Some fans have gone so far as to suggest that this may already mean a role for the player as a centre or even defensive midfielder. That is to play in one of the two positions from a 2-1 in the middle of the park within a 4-2-1-3 system, or variants of it, which has been deployed by Brendan Rodgers.
Yet that only complicates matters as it would mean ousting one of Lucas and Gerrard who currently occupy those places. Lucas is Liverpool’s only recognised ‘defensive midfielder’ and Gerrard’s status at the club makes it very difficult for him to be dropped, irrespective of his fluctuating form.
So what is left is the most sensible option to return to. Alberto must be given the opportunity to play in behind Sturridge on Saturday and prove his worth.
The player will know that if he performs he can put pressure on Coutinho who has had a mixed start to the season truth be told.
That way he can cement his place in the team and realise his undoubted potential.
image: © Dean Jones