Despite a torrid scoring record at Under-23 level, Harry Wilson can’t seem to find the right path to break into Liverpool’s first team. For all the Welshman’s talent, LFC Transfer Room’s Graeme Wilkinson (@graeme_wilko) believes he’ll have to leave Merseyside to make his name at senior level.
With Philippe Coutinho now gone, Liverpool Football Club have found themselves at the forefront of the football rumour mill, and unsurprisingly so.
It seems to be a daily occurrence that we are linked to someone new, and no rumour intrigued me more than that linking us with our former Spanish youth star Suso.
While this link is probably nothing but paper talk, it is apparent that Suso’s stock has risen greatly in the last 18 months or so, and I couldn’t help thinking about another one of our youth products who could find his future away from Anfield just as the Spaniard did. That is, indeed, Harry Wilson.
The dueling Welshmen
The young Welshman has been the main talking point of our youth setup for a couple of years now; however, when a first-team opportunity has arisen, Jürgen Klopp has opted to turn to another Welshman, Ben Woodburn. We’re now a year on from Wilson’s first team bow in the FA Cup clash at Plymouth, so why is this still the case?
In the last season and a half, Wilson has made 29 appearances at Premier League 2 level, and in those games has amassed 22 goals and 10 assists. This means that, in effect, the young winger is involved in an average of 1.1 goals for every game he plays. Even at youth level, that is an impressive feat.
Comparatively, in the same period, Woodburn has played 20 games in Premier League 2 and contributed 10 goals and 8 assists, boasting an average involvement in 0.9 goals per game. Again, this record is not to be frowned at.
Position-wise, both Wilson (20) and Woodburn (18) tend to operate as wingers, albeit on different sides of the pitch. Both players have also been known to occupy a central attacking midfield role, which could suit Klopp in the late stages of this season due to Coutinho’s departure. Both are also quick, tricky, and appear to show levels of composure way beyond their years.
One thing that has impressed me about Wilson is the upper body strength he possesses, which is certainly an attribute that would suit him in the Premier League. This is something that, at present, Woodburn does not possess (bear in mind this is not a criticism!). In April 2017, Klopp opted to start with Woodburn away at Stoke, which was an interesting decision to say the least. He was hooked at half time with the Reds 1-0 down, having spent 45 minutes being manhandled by Stoke defenders twice the size of the diminutive teenager. Sometimes certain games don’t suit certain players, and this, in hindsight, was one that Woodburn was never going to thrive in.
January and beyond
At the start of the January 2018 transfer window, it looked certain that Woodburn was going to join Sunderland on loan, which was a move I fully agreed with. A spell with the Wearsiders would have given Woodburn some much needed game time, and could have helped improve the physicality of the young winger.
I also felt the prospective move was positive as it would have brought Wilson closer to the first team set up, which given his current situation, may have greatly improved the lad’s morale. As it stands, the proposed loan to the Championship looks off, which is bad news for Wilson, whose contract is up this summer with a renewal looking unlikely.
Personally, I would be sad to see Wilson leave the club without being given a first team chance. Having seen him play numerous times I can’t help but feel that if he departs, it may come back to bite us where it hurts.