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LFC Loan Watch: four youngsters turning heads

Liverpool’s current crop are excelling in the Premier League so far this season, currently sitting atop the table. But across both the UK and continental Europe, there are a few on-loan talents making a case for the future.

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There’s been a lot of limelight shone on those putting in solid performances week-in and week-out, with the likes of Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino receiving plenty of praise for their early form.

Youth team prospects like Harvey Elliott and Ki-Jana Hoever are also getting rounds of applause for their showings, most notably in the recent Carabao Cup victory against MK Dons.

But what about those out on loan from the Reds?

Liverpool have seen their players profit from exploits at other clubs in recent years, so who’s been doing well so far this campaign?

Ovie Ejaria

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London-born Ovie Ejaria is now onto his fourth loan spell from Liverpool since breaking out from the academy, and so far it’s looking like it could well be his most profitable.

The 21-year-old secured a move to Reading in the January transfer window last season, and after a pre-season back spent training with the Reds, he decided to return to Berkshire for a second spell after failing to force his way into Jürgen Klopp’s plans.

And so far it has begun very well.

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Ejaria has bagged two goals and one assist so far in his 13 appearances for the Royals, starting all of those games en route to him securing the club’s player of the month award for August.

Whilst Reading sit 21st in the Championship and have seen Jose Gomes leave his position as manager of the club, Ejaria has given fans a breath of fresh air, shining through the glum of the club’s poor start to the season.

Along with his goals, he has completed the second most successful dribbles in the Championship, with his 37 take-ons only three behind QPR’s high-flying prodigy Eberechi Eze.

Ejaria has natural ability by the bucket-load.

He carries the ball masterfully with his rangy, languid style and, as defenders have found out, it is almost impossible to predict what he will do with the ball.

It’s fair to say he’s been taken into the Reading fan-base with welcoming arms.

Harry Wilson

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We all know about Harry Wilson.

The Welsh wizard turned heads from all over last season whilst at Derby County, lashing in mesmerising free-kicks and long-range belters on an almost weekly basis.

The 22-year-old ended the season on a career high of 18 goals and six assists in all competitions, including 15 in the league.

I mean it’s hard to forget about this beauty against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, isn’t it?

Whilst he impressed during Liverpool’s pre-season, including the tour of the U.S., Wilson couldn’t quite wriggle his way into the first team, and as a result was shipped out for another loan spell, this time with Bournemouth.

Wilson has kicked things off impressively this season.

His debut goal came in the Cherries’ 3-1 away win to Southampton, but his second for the club was the one that grabbed the headlines; a powerful and curling free-kick against champions Manchester City.

It served as a healthy reminder that Wilson has the talent to cut it out in the top-flight, with many doubting whether he could step up a league after Derby missed out on play-off promotion last term.

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But the Welshman has become a mainstay in Eddie Howe’s starting XI.

To compliment his three goals, Wilson has created two big chances and averages 0.9 shots per game.

This has seen the winger help Bournemouth to a solid start to the new season, as they sit 9th in league with three wins, four draws and three losses.

The Cherries will no doubt be bidding for a top-half finish, and Wilson is the calibre of player to help them achieve just that.

Sheyi Ojo

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One of two players to move to Rangers this summer — with Ryan Kent making a permanent move — was Sheyi Ojo.

The 22-year-old became a feature in Klopp’s first season with the Reds after he was recalled from his then-loan spell with Wolves.

Ojo made his Premier League debut on 20 March 2016 in a 3–2 loss away to Southampton. Three weeks later, he made his first start against Stoke City at Anfield, assisting Daniel Sturridge in a 4-1 win.

But since then he hasn’t featured for the Reds competitively. Ojo sustained a fracture in his back before the start of the 2016/17 season, and struggled to break back into the first team after his recovery.

This led to him securing a loan move to Fulham the summer after, then to Stade de Reims a year later, before finding himself at his current employers Rangers.

And so far, he has begun the season excellently under Steven Gerrard.

Ojo has already featured 19 times for the Glasgow outfit, scoring five goals and assisting four.

Gerrard holds Ojo in very high regard after his showings so far, stating, via the Mirror: “Sheyi has got all the attributes and if this doesn’t work it will be because of Sheyi.

“He has got everything in the locker, he is quick, he is strong, he is powerful, he takes on information.

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“From a manager’s point of view, you know he is going to take on the tactical information, you see him chasing back and making fouls and getting yellow cards.

“I want him to be ruthless from start to finish and he will get the numbers that he wants and that will satisfy everyone.”

In fact he’s impressed the Rangers board so much this soon into the season that they’re lining up to take him on a permanent deal, much like they did with Kent.

Marko Grujic

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It’s often forgotten that Marko Grujic was Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool manager.

The 23-year-old was signed from his hometown club Red Star Belgrade in 2016, and much like the others in this article, he has yet to make a name for himself in the first team.

While Grujic hasn’t boasted the same track record as many of Klopp’s other signings, it appears he is starting to turn heads with his talent.

The Serb was shipped out to Hertha Berlin for the 2018/19 season, where he is really starting to make a name for himself, managing to secure a second spell in the Bundesliga.

Standing at 6ft 3in in central midfield, Grujic already has two goals from 10 games so far this season, which is more than any of Liverpool’s other central midfield options have managed.

He has also completed 100% of the dribbles he has attempted this season, competing all 13, which sees him up there with Europe’s best midfielders who have also taken on more than 10 runs.

Hertha coach Pal Dardai even hailed Grujic as “by far the best midfielder at Hertha Berlin in 20 years.” That is some claim!

But the Liverpool dream is still in the fore of Grujic’s mind.

Opening up in an interview with The Liverpool Echo, he said: “It’s not easy to become a part of the Liverpool squad, I can see myself in the red shirt but I have to become more experienced before I can wear it again.

“I want to improve my physical performance and take my concentration to another level. I want to be ready for Liverpool so I will have a chance to get into the team.

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“It is very important for me to play regularly right now and [Klopp] told me to fight for my place in the team.”

Let’s hope Grujic achieves his ambitions and gets his chance in Red next season.

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