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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Andrew Robertson proves to be more than just a defender as he continues rapid rise with impressive Anfield debut for Liverpool

The Scotsman proved to be one of the Merseyside club's best attacking outlets in their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Andrew Robertson, right, is congratulated by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp following the side's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Phil Noble / Reuters
Andrew Robertson, right, is congratulated by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp following the side's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Phil Noble / Reuters

It was not the most eye-catching transfer this summer. Not by some way, in fact.

Last month, Liverpool paid an initial £8 million (Dh37.8m) for Andrew Robertson, a 23-year-old Scotland international defender who excelled for Hull City last season despite the team's relegation from the Premier League.

In this great summer of the Premier League Splurge, it represented an uncharacteristically low fee. Especially, given full-backs were in vogue.

Kyle Walker left Tottenham Hotspur for a sum believed to be close to £50m. In signing the England international, and then adding Benjamin Mendy from Monaco and Danilo from Real Madrid, Manchester City took their spending on wide defenders to a reported £133m.

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Danny Rose, Walker’s former teammate at Tottenham, was linked with Manchester United and Chelsea for a fee in excess of £50m.

Robertson’s price, then, seemed a relative snip. He is yet to reach the level of Walker or of Rose, but the young Scot did enough on debut for Liverpool on Saturday to suggest the club banked a bargain.

Granted a start against Crystal Palace at Anfield, Robertson provided Liverpool’s best attacking outlet.

He should have had an assist, but for Joel Matip somehow miss-directing a header from his cross, or Sadio Mane not connecting properly with another.

According to Opta, Robertson offered 10 crosses in all, creating three chances - more than any other Liverpool player.

He had 134 touches of the ball - more than any teammate.

He spent 70.3 per cent of the match in Palace’s half, his pass accuracy ranked at 87 per cent. Consequently, he was voted man of the match.

Energetic and enterprising, Robertson is a more natural fit on Liverpool’s left flank to James Milner. Much to the fans’ delight, he is more reliable than Alberto Moreno.

His inclusion also provides Klopp more options. With Robertson at left-back, Milner switched to a familiar central midfield role, allowing Emre Can to be rested.

As such, Liverpool’s defence was given more protection, something Klopp bemoaned following the opening-day draw at Watford.

Robertson’s rise has been both swift and steep. Four years ago, he was playing as an amateur in Scotland’s fourth tier. Within nine months of trading Queen’s Park for Dundee United, he had made his Scotland debut, aged 19.

In one season at Tannadice, Robertson scored five times in 44 games and was voted PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year. It prompted the transfer to Hull, where he eventually made 115 appearances in three seasons, including 39 during the 2016/17 campaign.

He has twice experienced the pain of relegation from the Premier League. He knows what it is like, too, to win promotion from the Championship via the play-offs, of emerging from one of Europe's most physically demanding leagues and then to perform in the most viewed and the most lucrative. All in all, it has been quite the apprenticeship.

No doubt, Robertson will face sterner tests than Palace in future, but his debut promised much. At £8m, perhaps it can be one of the most eye-catching bits of business this summer, after all.