Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson feels Jordan Henderson is waiting to take over Steven Gerrard's mantle as Reds captain in the future.
The midfielder arrived at Anfield for a staggering £16m fee from Sunderland in 2011 and struggled to adapt into the first team. But last season, the 24-year-old was one of the top performers for Brendan Rodgers' side which saw him nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
The Reds have added Adam Lallana and Emre Can among the already existing talents in midfield. Lawrenson feels that next season will be the most important for Henderson to prove his mettle.
"When Steven does retire - granted that won't be for a couple more years - I seriously think Henderson is a contender to take that role. If you are the manager and you're picking the captain you want to choose someone who is playing every week," Lawrenson wrote in his column for Liverpool Echo.
"At the moment, Henderson is one of the first names down every week and that will certainly come into Brendan's mind. But with the players Liverpool have signed there is a lot of competition in midfield and that's why it will be a big year for him."
"His role in this Liverpool team now is huge. You only have to look at how much he was missed at the back end of last season when he was suspended and you compare that with his first season and that is a massive statement in itself," he added.
Gerrard recently announced his retirement from the England national team to focus on performing better for Liverpool before hanging up his boots. Lawrenson believes that the 34-year-old skipper will have an extremely positive influence on Henderson and backs the England international to have an 'outstanding career' with the Merseyside club.
"When you consider the first season Jordan Henderson had in a Liverpool FC shirt it was clear the transfer fee was weighing heavy on his shoulders. It's taken him a while to look like the player worth £16million but he was outstanding last year," the 57-year-old explained.
"The thing is, having Steven Gerrard alongside him is huge. We know Stevie is a big fan of Henderson's and it is easy to see why. But if you can't learn from such an outstanding player like the skipper you've never going to develop."
"It's inevitable he will learn from him but I think one of the important things about playing alongside him is that Henderson will better understand that position."
"He's got a chance of having an outstanding career here so he's just got to grasp the nettle again this year and kick on with a few more goals," the former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender concluded.