Rio Ferdinand claims Jordan Henderson has been “undervalued” in recent seasons, as the Liverpool skipper returned to start their crunch second leg clash against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
The England international suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-0 first-leg loss at the Wanda Metropolitano and has been absent for the last four matches.
The Reds have lost two of those games, to Watford in the Premier League and in the FA Cup to Chelsea.
Ferdinand says it is clear Liverpool have missed the 29-year-old, who is one of the favourites for the PFA Player of the Year gong.
“Of course they have [missed Henderson],” Ferdinand said on BT Sport.
“A fantastic player, a leader, his personality, his expectations of others, the demands he puts on others is a huge element of his game that was probably undervalued until the last few months.
“He’s the one that’s always out there gesturing to others, shouting, getting people into position, dragging people about, and that is what you need.
“These type of games need people to take charge. Klopp can only do so much from the touchlines.
“You need players on the pitch who can actually turn and push and cajole people into the right positions to get the result you need to get over the line.”
Former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman was also pleased to see Henderson back on the team sheet.
“Yeah really important [that Henderson is back],” McManaman said.
“I think Liverpool will dominate possession tonight but the fact he is a vocal, Englishman of course, but Liverpool at heart, the captain.
“I think he’s there as just a bit of reassurance and it’s really nice that he’s back to be honest.”