As successful as Liverpool have been over the past 18 months or so, one thing that is consistently pointed out is their lack of a consistent creative force in midfield.
While first choice trio Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, and Fabinho are all excellent players in their own right, none of them could be described as attacking midfielders. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is more of an attacking force, but he is a box-to-box player who drives from deep.
It had been hoped that Naby Keita would be that player, but the jury is still out on the former Leipzig man due to a mix of injuries and lack of form.
The remarkable thing is, the most creative midfielder in Europe this season is a player Liverpool discarded after only one season at Anfield.
Luis Alberto signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2013 for a fee of just under £7million. He arrived with a big reputation from Sevilla, having been hugely impressive during a stint on loan at Barcelona 'B' the previous campaign.
At only 21-years old, it was hoped he would be a big player for the club in the not too distant future.
Things didn't really work out that way. He made nine league appearances as Liverpool made a run at the title, totalling only 135 minutes. The decision was taken to loan him out the following campaign, spending the year at Malaga.
From here he would make another temporary switch to Deportivo, before departing permanently in the summer of 2016 as he signed for Lazio for around €4million. It's in Rome where his career really took off.
His tally of 11 goals and 13 assists in Serie A in the 17/18 season was hugely impressive, but he looks well positioned to blow that tally out of the water in this campaign.
With a pair of assists at the weekend, he brought his total to 12 for the season. That makes him the most creative player in Europe's top five leagues.
With two at the weekend, @OfficialSSLazio playmaker Luis Alberto became the first player to reach double figures for assists in Europe's top five leagues this season, moving two clear of both Kevin De Bruyne and Thomas Muller, on 11https://t.co/BwvcOJPEus pic.twitter.com/7oQJk3dwmb
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 9, 2019
Now 27-years old, he is entering his peak years. While he still only has one Spain cap under his belt, he has been part of the squad in recent times. He is certainly worth a lot more than the minuscule fee Lazio handed out just over three years ago.
His 3.1 key passes per game would trail only Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the Premier League, while 0.5 through balls per game would top the English top flight charts.
🔵 Lazio are level!
⚽ Luis Alberto's beautiful cross met with a thumping header from Luiz Felipe
🙌 A fascinating second half lies ahead with Lazio and Juventus all square at 1-1 pic.twitter.com/jwkx1LuS5X
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) December 7, 2019
🅰️ Most Assists in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season:
1️⃣2️⃣ Luis Alberto (Lazio)
9️⃣ De Bruyne (City)
9️⃣ Muller (Bayern)
7️⃣ Son (Tottenham)
7️⃣ Sancho (Dortmund)
ex-Liverpool man Luis Alberto set up 2 vs Juve, including this peach 🤤
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) December 9, 2019
It is perhaps a case of what might have been for Alberto at Anfield, but it is unlikely he would have gotten the same opportunities to develop as a player.
When you consider the disaster that was Liverpool's season in 2014/15 after he had departed, giving the Spaniard a run in the team may have been no bad thing. That summer transfer window was infamous, with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic, and Rickie Lambert arriving on Merseyside.
The past few years have shown that Alberto is certainly more talented than that bunch and having another a year to establish himself at Anfield could have resulted in his Liverpool career turning out very differently.