Even as a lifelong red we cannot live with rose tinted glasses on. We must accept the truth and the truth is this. We are shit at loaning players out.
Loaning players has three principle objectives. The more of them you can achieve with each loan the better it is for your team.
- to develop a talented young player
- to increase the value of a player you want rid of and to get their wages off the books
- to improve the quality of squads your rivals have to play against.
For as long as I can remember, we haven’t done well at achieving any of them. A season long loan has long been the death note for the playing career of many an emerging talent. Rather than a means for providing the necessary opportunity for our young players to blood themselves against real men, it has been a chance for us to knock 80% off any future value that the player has.
However, like many things, Klopp is starting to make us believe that we can turn this relentless failure into a successful element of the clubs management. Kent and Ward have emerged stronger from their loans and are now viable option for the first team. Sakho and Markovic added ¬£10m to their asking prices and Wisdom was able to be sold for a decent amount. Both Sakho and Markovic also improved the team’s they played for taking points off our rivals. For the first time in a long time, we achieved all three of the aims of loaning a player in one window. ¬†
So maybe we should dare to whisper it, maybe we aren’t as bad at loans as we used to be. No, let’s not get carried away, for every Kent there was an Flannagan. His time at Burnley was far from the productive experience we were hoping for, but we are taking steps in the right direction.
Right now, Liverpool have players on loan as well as others who would benefit greatly from the right loan. The recent move of Randall and Chirivella screams of giving them a chance to earn a future club and for us a couple of million pounds. These loans are vital. They are what keeps the doors of the academy open and profitable. Ojo has had loan offers accepted from Middlesbrough and Fulham, both potentially positive moves to choose from and hopefully ones from which he will come back from stronger. But, there are other players for whom this year could define their future. The right move could make their Liverpool career and the wrong move could break it. For too long this has been the fundamental failure in our previous dealings, not picking out teams and styles of play which will assist our players to thrive and develop.
So, here are five players who would benefit from a loan, what they need to get from it and where would be the best place for them to go.
After his fantastic performance against Athleti, some are calling four him to oust Karius and even suggesting he could replace Mignolet. Realistically, Ward has had one season of regular first team football. Even Karius has had a year playing at a top Bundesliga side. Ward needs the same chance. A Premier League move is vital, yet few team’s need a new goalkeeper. With Ward the old adage, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it, comes to mind. The best option for him could well be a return to the terriers and a defence and playing system he knows only too well. After a year playing in the premier league, we can then revisit questions of where he fits into the hierarchy of Liverpool goalkeepers.
Gomez’s availability for loan will depend a lot on our summer recruitment. Strangely, Gomez was originally expected to be loaned out and won a place in Rodgers squad. Yet what Gomez needs now more than anything is regular first team football. He has all the tools to be a top class defender he just needs experience and honestly to man up a little bit. He needs to become accustomed to the physicality of the premier league while equally adapting to defending for a top six side where you are often left exposed by midfielders who are pushing forward to beat a low block. This unique criteria means that a premier league move will be hard to find. The teams that will give him the playing time will not provide an accurate simulation of the defensive situations he will face. Crazily, even though the quality of the football may decline, a move up north to Celtic to play again for Rodgers may well provide him an accurate simulation of the type of defending that he would need to do at Liverpool. It would undoubtedly expose him to defending against big lumps, plus exposing him one-on-one counter attacks. It would also bring the bonus of European football and the unique difficulties of European strikers.
More than any of the other five, the career of Harry Wilson has stalled and is in most danger of petering out. Many may forget with all the excitement circling around Ryan Kent, that for a long time Wilson was the far more exciting prospect. An injury ravaged 2015-16 campaign, dropped Wilson down in the pecking order. The success that he had at Under 23 level last season has meant that there seems to be plenty of admirers out there. What Wilson needs is the right type of loan. At twenty people are starting to write him off, however due to pressure to perform immediately, 18 year old players breaking through is becoming rarer and rarer. We are seeing more and more 21, 22 year olds debut in the first teams. Wilson has the time to be loaned out to the championship and build himself back up before another potential premier league loan. His uncanny eye for goal from out wide, a rare and valuable skill, makes this time a worthwhile investment. A loan move to a strong team in the Championship would suit him well. Potentially, the failed suitor of Ojo could do a lot worse than come back in for Wilson. The recent injury to Jack Grealish at Villa has equally left a space in one of the favourites for the championship title. A stint in the Midlands could give him the opportunity to show his ability under the tutelage of a a good, though fat-headed, championship manager in Steve Bruce.
Ryan is the player out of the list who impressed me the most during pre-season. His directness has been a breathe of fresh air. If he is to go out on loan, ¬†it has to be the right move for him to balance playing time and prove he can do it at Premier League level. Kent needs to play in a team that actually plays football. Near the bottom of the premier league that is in short supply. There are few teams that could offer him the style and playing time he needs. Marco Silva did the almost impossible and made Markovic look like a decent winger at Hull, almost keeping them up. It would be interesting to see what he could get out of a player with the raw ability of Kent at his new club Watford.
This is the outside shout. Origi isn’t a youth team player even though we often forget he is the age of a youth team player. Solanke coming in and performing well means that Origi could have the chance to get the game time he so desperately needs. He doesn’t need twenty minutes at the end of a game anymore. He needs to play ninety minutes in a long run of matches across a season. Again within the premier league there are few teams that can offer Origi what he needs. One notable exception and a perfect fit for Origi is Newcastle and the coaching skills of Rafa Benitez. Origi isn’t a Torres. Yet he has similar tools, pace skill and physicality. We all know what Benitez was able to do with Torres, it would be great to see what he could do with Origi.
What is not in doubt is that all of these players will have successful careers. What the next year may determine is whether that career will end up being at Liverpool or at another team. Let’s hope they can get their chance this season on loan and come back in a year’s time to add even more quality to the reds squad for 2018-19.