The domestic football season in Europe has finally come to an end and Liverpool’s loanees will now head off on their holidays before a lot of them report back to Melwood in July for pre-season. Have their loan spells given them a chance to break in to Liverpool’s first team?
Allan Rodrigues de Souza, Hertha Berlin
Allan Souza joined Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin in August, in search of regular first team football and the experience required to earn a Premier League work permit. The Brazilian endured a challenging season, featuring in just 15 Bundesliga games with eight starts.
Allan did start five of Hertha’s last six games, suggesting he began to earn manager Pal Dardai’s trust. A brief stint with the Brazil U20s at the World Cup qualifiers saw Allan make four appearances for his country.
Allan’s loan was largely unsuccessful, because it failed to achieve its single most important purpose: to earn the Brazilian midfielder a work permit. The 20-year-old is destined to return to Europe next year, perhaps to Hertha, and desperately needs more minutes in order to ensure he is eligible for selection for Jürgen Klopp in 2018-19.
Allan is highly rated at Liverpool, and is likely one profitable season on loan away from becoming an Anfield regular.
Taiwo Awoniyi, NEC Nijmegen
After spending his debut season in Europe at FSV Frankfurt in the German second division last year, Taiwo Awoniyi spent his second season at the Eredivisie’s NEC Nijmegen. The Nigerian enjoyed mixed fortunes.
Starting 10 games and making 22 total appearances in all competitions, Awoniyi was quiet for long stretches of the year, but did score goals in three consecutive games late in May. His NEC Nijmegen were relegated at the end of the season, after falling short in a playoff.
Like Allan, Awoniyi is likely to head back out on loan next season as he fights to earn a work permit. A return to the Eredivisie is a distinct possibility, with Awoniyi’s strong finish hopefully leaving a number of clubs willing to take a chance.
The 2017-18 season will be a critical one for the 19-year-old Nigerian, who needs to prove he can score goals at the highest level in order to impress Klopp and earn himself a future at Liverpool.
Adam Bogdan, Wigan Athletic
Having fallen out of favour after joining Liverpool in the summer of 2015, Adam Bogdan was shipped out to Championship side Wigan Athletic in July. Bogdan enjoyed initial success, starting 17 league games, but suffered an ACL tear in November which ended his season.
With Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius, and Danny Ward in the mix, it’s hard to see Adam Bogdan at Liverpool next season. Expect the Hungarian to seal a permanent move from the club this summer.
Cameron Brannagan, Fleetwood Town
Academy midfielder Cam Brannagan had a breakthrough season at Liverpool in 2015-16, making nine appearances including five starts, but after finding opportunities limited this year, he joined Fleetwood Town on loan in January.
Brannagan would go on to make 14 appearances in League One, including five starts, although Fleetwood fell short of promotion after losing to Bradford in the playoffs.
Brannagan’s future is one of the hardest to predict amongst the current batch of Liverpool loanees. The midfielder has undeniable talent, but will need to challenge the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, and Georginio Wijnaldum to earn a permanent spot at Anfield.
Another loan spell seems appropriate for Brannagan, although it would not be surprising to see the midfielder move permanently into the Football League this summer.
Pedro Chirivella, Go Ahead Eagles
Midfielder Pedro Chirivella joined Eredivisie strugglers Go Ahead Eagles in January, looking for first team football that had been hard to come by at Anfield.
From there, Chirivella went on to make 17 consecutive starts for the Eagles, scoring two goals, playing over 1500 minutes, and emerging as an important cog in the Deventer-based club’s midfield. Go Ahead were relegated, but Chirivella proved his readiness for full-time senior football.
Chirivella is a special talent, and Klopp is believed to be a big fan. With Liverpool already short at centre midfield and Lucas and Kevin Stewart possibly leaving, Chirivella may find an opportunity for game time.
At just 20 years old, time is still on the Spaniard’s side, and should he fail to break through this summer, another loan spell will beckon.
Jack Dunn, Morecambe and Tranmere Rovers
A forgotten man amongst Liverpool youngsters, Jack Dunn endured two difficult loan spells this season, splitting time between League Two Morecambe and National League side Tranmere Rovers. Dunn made 19 appearances at Morecambe, scoring six goals, before scoring no goals in eight games at Tranmere.
At 22, Dunn has no future at Anfield. He was released by Liverpool, and has joined Tranmere on a permanent deal.
Jon Flanagan, Burnley
Despite the optimism surrounding Jon Flanagan last summer, the academy graduate endured an extremely difficult season. After joining Burnley in the summer, Flanagan struggled to establish himself, and though he was named in 28 Premier League matchday squads, made just six league appearances. The full-back made four starts in cup competitions.
With Nathaniel Clyne and Trent Alexander Arnold now firmly entrenched at right-back, it’s difficult to see Flanagan break back into the first-team picture at Anfield, particularly after another challenging season. Expect the academy graduate to seal a permanent move away from the club this summer.
Ryan Fulton, Chesterfield
After a promising loan spell at League Two Portsmouth last season, Ryan Fulton took a step up last summer, sealing a season-long loan to League One side Chesterfield.
Fulton saw a lot of action, starting 26 league games and three cup matches, but often struggled, becoming an easy scapegoat in a Chesterfield team that was performing poorly. Fulton lost his place to veteran Thorsten Stuckmann in February, and Chesterfield went on to finish last in the League One table.
Despite the struggles, Fulton is talented, and at just 21 years of age, is still young for a ‘keeper. Liverpool will be reluctant to allow him to return to the U23s and take playing time away from Shamal George, Caoimhin Kelleher, and Kamil Grabara, so another loan spell looks likely for the Scotland U21 international.
Sam Hart, Port Vale
A versatile defender, Sam Hart joined Port Vale on loan in August in search of first-team football. Hart would go on to make 16 total appearances for the Valiants, including 12 starts, although he played much of his football on the wing. Hart’s loan spell was cut short after a managerial change in January.
Hart’s future is unclear. With Juanma impressing last season and Liverpool expected to acquire a young left-back, Hart may find himself as third-choice in the Liverpool U23s. Another loan move is possible.
Lloyd Jones, Swindon Town
Lloyd Jones joined League One side Swindon in August, looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2015-16 campaign wrecked by serious injury.
The season got off to a great start for Jones, as he made 29 total appearances, including 28 starts, accruing well over 2000 minutes of football and becoming a regular fixture in the Swindon back-line. Unfortunately, he fell out of the lineup later in the season, was arrested, and watched as Swindon were relegated to League Two.
In four loan spells, Jones has been inconsistent, impressing at times, but finding himself dropped at others. At 21, his Liverpool career may well be fizzling out. Jones has done enough to warrant another loan opportunity to impress the Liverpool coaching staff, though he may prefer a permanent move.
Ryan Kent, Barnsley
One of Liverpool’s more impressive loan stars, Ryan Kent enjoyed a breakthrough season at Barnsley, emerging as a central figure for the Championship side. The winger made 47 appearances, including 39 starts, and added over 3000 first-team minutes to an already impressive resume. He also scored three goals, including one dazzling finish against Leeds in the Yorkshire Derby in January.
After a great season, Kent is likely to return to Liverpool for preseason, where he will look to prove to Klopp that he can help fill the club’s hole on the wing. If the club decides to offload the academy product, there will be no shortage of suitors. Huddersfield’s David Wagner is a big fan, and Kent could well succeed on loan at a lower Premier League side.
Brooks Lennon, Real Salt Lake
Brooks Lennon left Liverpool in February to rejoin boyhood club Real Salt Lake on loan. Since then, Lennon has enjoyed tremendous success. In two spells with the USA U20s, at the World Cup qualifiers and World Cup finals, the forward started 11 games, scoring six goals. In between, he started eight consecutive games for RSL, playing the full 90 minutes in every one and scoring one goal.
For now, Lennon will continue his summer with Real Salt Lake, where he will get plenty of minutes and earn valuable experience. Should he continue to impress, he will return to Liverpool next October to compete with the likes of Dominic Solanke and Toni Gomes for U23s duties, with a first-team debut possibly not far away.
Lazar Markovic, Sporting CP and Hull City
Another player to spend time with two clubs this season, Lazar Markovic endured mixed fortunes. The Serbian initially joined Sporting CP in the summer, but after only 13 appearances and one goal, his deal was cut short in January, and he was instead shipped to Hull City. There things improved, with Markovic making 14 appearances, including 12 league starts, and scoring two goals, but he could not prevent Hull from relegation at the end of the season.
In three loan spells since joining Liverpool, Markovic has failed to prove his long term future belongs at the club, and he may be one of several big-money players to leave this summer as Klopp looks to fund a substantial spending spree.
Mamadou Sakho, Crystal PalaceAn outcast at Liverpool, Mamadou Sakho left the club to join Crystal Palace on loan in January. Despite seeing his season cut short by a knee injury, Sakho enjoyed great success at Selhurst Park, making eight appearances, playing a key role in Palace’s survival, and finding himself nominated for the club’s Player of the Season award.
Sakho’s loan spell should be viewed as extremely successful simply because, despite a late, season-ending injury, the permanent move achieved everything it needed to: Sakho got some much-needed minutes, proved his talent, and likely substantially increased his value for a future sale. Liverpool will look for around £30 million for Sakho this summer.
Danny Ward, Huddersfield Town
The crown jewel of Liverpool’s 2016-17 loan stars, Danny Ward enjoyed an extremely successful season at Huddersfield Town. The Welshman made 46 total starts for the Terriers, playing a key role in leading the club into the Championship playoffs, and then wrote himself into Huddersfield history, twice helping the side win penalty shootouts on their way to promotion to the Premier League.
Ward’s future is unclear. Klopp is likely to want to evaluate the Welshman after his exploits this season, but there will certainly be an offer to return to Huddersfield for their inaugural season in the Premier League, a great opportunity for Ward to test himself alongside some of the world’s best in his position. Wherever he ends up in 2017-18, Danny Ward’s future in the game, perhaps even at Liverpool, appears very bright indeed.
Andre Wisdom, Red Bull Salzburg
After sealing a surprise season-long loan to Austria, Andre Wisdom endured a rollercoaster season. Initially limited to cup ties and European outings, Wisdom struggled at first, but after Salzburg’s sale of centre back Dayot Upamecano to Germany’s RB Leipzig in January, Wisdom became an integral part of the side, helping lead Salzburg to the domestic double. Wisdom ended the season with 21 starts in all competitions.
Despite a strong end to the season, Wisdom’s Liverpool future is very much in doubt. Four consecutive loan spells have failed to enhance his reputation at Anfield, and with the emergence of Trent Alexander Arnold on the right and Klopp likely to spend big on centre backs this summer, it is hard to find a place for the former England U21 captain. At 24, Wisdom needs, and deserves, a permanent move, and a chance to resurrect his career.
Written by Jake Ware