As ever with Jurgen Klopp, the pre-season tour of the United States was a beacon of opportunity for the younger members of the squad. But it also turned out to be – as it always does – make-or-break for those who we now tritely term ‘deadwood’. In total, sixteen players were loaned out by the new Premier League champions in 19/20, all enduring mixed fortunes. LFC Transfer Room writer Leo (@LFCIeo) takes a look at all of the players that took a chance outside of Anfield to develop their careers and touches on the possibility of them remaining on Klopp’s plans for next season.
Rhian Brewster – Swansea CityEmbed from Getty Images
It’s clear as to why so much faith has been put in this young man. Since his January switch to South Wales, Brewster has netted an impressive nine times in seventeen appearances, helping Swansea clinch an unlikely playoff spot. To overcome a devastating fourteen-month layoff through injury, and to then succeed at Liverpool would be an amazing story. With the five substitute rule seemingly remaining place for 20/21, Liverpool may take a gamble on Brewster and keep him on the books to bolster their attacking options. With Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino – I know it’s early – firing blanks, I would love to see Brewster take ‘the next step’ next season.
Marko Grujic – Hertha BerlinEmbed from Getty Images
The 6′3′ Serbian midfielder hasn’t hit the heights that were expected of him after becoming Jurgen Klopp’s first Liverpool signing back in January of 2016. Since then, he has only made eight appearances for the Reds’ first team. Paradoxically, he’s spent the majority of his Anfield career anywhere but Anfield – on loan at Cardiff and Hertha Berlin. After a fairly impressive second loan spell at the latter, the German club’s sporting director Michael Preetz asserted that they are in talks with Liverpool over a permanent move. In an ideal world – one without COVID-19 – Liverpool would have accrued a fee of around £25m for his services. But that is simply unrealistic today. That being said, I still believe Liverpool will cash in on the 24-year-old midfielder this summer, and use the surplus to fund a move for Thiago Alcântara.
Harry Wilson – BournemouthEmbed from Getty Images
Following a season in which he was directly involved in eighteen goals for Derby County, Harry Wilson’s been largely disappointing. Despite netting seven goals for a struggling Bournemouth side, he spent a large chunk of the season on the bench and, since the restart, contributions have been few and far between.
It now seems very far-fetched to think Harry Wilson will be wearing Liverpool red next season.
Ovie Ejaria – ReadingEmbed from Getty Images
The last time the 22-year-old English midfielder featured for the Reds was in the 6-1 home demolition of Watford back in November of 2016. Ejaria’s impressive form at the Madejski Stadium was enough to convince the Royals into making his move permanent. Liverpool received a fee of around £3.5M for his services earlier this year, but with a 20% future sell on clause slapped in the deal.
Ben Woodburn – Oxford UnitedEmbed from Getty Images
When Ben Woodburn smashed in Liverpool’s second goal in the EFL cup tie with Leeds back in 2016, it was as if the Welshman was destined to become a star at Anfield. Unfortunately, his career had been on a downward spiral ever since, and things only got worse last Monday when his Oxford United side were defeated in the League One play-off final. Woodburn’s likely to be offloaded again this summer – perhaps even permanently.
Taiwo Awoniyi – Mainz 05Embed from Getty Images
Work permit issues have sadly hampered any chance of seeing Taiwo Awoniyi in Liverpool red. Five years on from the Nigerian’s move to Merseyside, he has spent each one out on loan – in Germany, Holland and Belgium. Despite only scoring once in his twelve appearances at Mainz in his most recent loan switch, manager Rouven Schroder confirmed to Bild that they want the striker for another year.
Sheyi Ojo – RangersEmbed from Getty Images
With his only real highlight in Glasgow being his thunderous goal against Feyenoord in the Europa League, it’s hard to imagine him returning to Ibrox next season. Even still, the 23-year-old is likely to depart Anfield this summer.
Liam Millar – Kilmarnock
For the second year running, Liverpool’s Canadian forward went up north to Scotland to play his football, with Kilmarnock agreeing to another loan deal. Originally, the plan was for Millar to spend twelve months at Rugby Park before Liverpool pulled the plug and recalled him in January. In that time, he only managed to find the back of the net once in fourteen starts. However, Liverpool certainly won’t have given up on the 20-year-old, and I can imagine another loan deal being on the horizon for Liam Millar.
Kamil Grabara- Huddersfield TownEmbed from Getty Images
Regular Championship football is certainly a good thing for any 21-year-old goalkeeper, and so Kamil Grabara should be pleased with his season’s work. Despite making numerous errors before his head injury, which has kept him out since January, the head of goalkeeping at Huddersfield Paul Clements has publically praised the Polish goalkeeper.
Nathaniel Phillips – StuttgartEmbed from Getty Images
Despite being recalled in January to feature in Liverpool’s 1-0 FA Cup victory over Everton, Nat Phillips has spent pretty much the entirety of this season in Germany. The English centre-back made nineteen appearances in Stuttgart’s promotion-winning season, and the Bundesliga newbies have expressed an interest in retaining him. With just a year left on his current contract, this could very well be the end of the road for Nat Phillips at Liverpool.
Herbie Kane – Hull CityEmbed from Getty Images
In January of this year, Herbie Kane secured a loan move to Hull City. Due to injury problems, he has only featured in seven championship matches since his arrival, but has certainly made an impact even if his side are playing League 1 football next season. A career at this level seems like the most realistic option for Herbie Kane going forward.
Anderson Arroyo – FK Mladá Boleslav
Anderson Arroyo could well turn our to be another example of a player’s future at Liverpool being jeopardised by work permit issues, adding to the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi and Allan Rodrigues de Souza. Since his move to Europe in 2018 from Fortaleza in Colombia, the 20-year-old defender hasn’t played an awful lot of football. Despite a promising campaign in the recent Under 20 World Cup, Arroyo has only made 2 appearances in his current loan spell in the Czech Republic with FK Mladá Boleslav.
Shamal George – Marine F.C.
Since his surprising cameo as a striker in a pre-season friendly with Huddersfield Town four years ago, the 22-year-old goalkeeper has continued to drop down the divisions, most recently featuring for eighth tier side Marine F.C., the Englishman kept five clean sheets in sixteen appearances in the loan move. Immediately after Liverpool were crowned Premier League champions, George took to social media to confirm his departure from the club.
Daniel Atherton – Marine F.C.Embed from Getty Images
After Shamal George’s loan move to Marine was cut short in January, fellow goalkeeper Daniel Atherton joined the club from Crosby to fill the void. Despite being part of Liverpool’s pre-season tour squad last year, Atherton clearly wasn’t seen as a viable backup option as he left the Premier League champions last month.
Isaac Christie-DaviesEmbed from Getty Images
At twenty-two years of age, Christie-Davies’ chances of breaking through at Liverpool seem nothing more than a pipedream, especially given Curtis Jones’s emergence this season. Weeks after his debut in Liverpool’s 5-0 defeat at Villa Park in the Carabao Cup, the midfielder was loaned to Cercle Brugge in Belgium. The 22-year-old failed to make a single appearance in the Belgian First Division due to injury issues and departed Melwood at the end of June along with a couple of other youngsters.
Rhys WilliamsEmbed from Getty Images
Initially joining Kidderminster Harriers on a short term loan move last summer, the loan deal was extended until the end of the season. Williams has impressed during his in the National League, gaining caps for the English national team at youth level. Last season, the centre-back played a big part in the Liverpool U18s’ successful FA Youth Cup campaign, defeating Manchester City on penalties in the final.