Liverpool

Can these Liverpool loanees provide additional squad depth next season?

Three players probably have a make-or-break six months ahead of them if they are ever going to succeed at Anfield

 
7:00am on Wednesday 15th July 2020
By
Nicholas Hughes

Jurgen Klopp has been more vocal than ever on transfer policy as football clubs continue to tread carefully amidst the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

Once again, Klopp has pointed to players already on the books who can come in and make a difference, and those on loan that could find a place in the first-team as virtually 'new signings'.

You have to be creative, and we try to be creative. We try to find solutions internally. Jurgen Klopp

Players returning from loan spells could find themselves thrust back into rotation when they arrive back at Liverpool ahead of next season - will any of these players see regular minutes?

Rhian Brewster (Swansea)

After claiming the Golden Boot in England’s FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning campaign, Rhian Brewster’s development has been halted by injury.

A first senior pre-season last summer gave the fans a glimpse of what to expect from the youngster, but he failed to make his Premier League debut before heading to Swansea City on loan in January.

Klopp and his staff place just as much value on goals as they do pressing and facilitating from the No. 9 position. Brewster has done the former well, and the latter not so while netting eight times in 1424 minutes for the Swans.

His 13.3 duels attempted and 5.8 duels won P90 are bettered only by Divock Origi amongst Liverpool’s current centre-forwards. In fact, Brewster’s aerial duel numbers are almost identical to Origi’s, despite the Belgian standing 8cm taller.

But passing stats of just 16.8 passes P90 at a 62% completion rate are less than impressive. With Roberto Firmino as the benchmark, he attempts more than twice as many passes P90, completing 79% of them.

Five years younger than both Origi and Takumi Minamino in the centre-forward ranks, Brewster could return to Anfield with a first season of senior football under his belt and a point to prove in the Premier League.

MARKO GRUJIC (Hertha)

A then-19-year-old Marko Grujic became Klopp’s first Liverpool signing in January 2016. Since then, however, he has played just eight times for a combined 51 minutes in the Premier League.

The Serb helped Cardiff City to automatic promotion while on loan in 2018 and has spent the last two seasons in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin, going from strength-to-strength at the Olympiastadion. Playing predominantly as a sole defensive midfielder, the Serb has still chipped in with nine goals and two assists over the two campaigns in the German capital.

Grujic will now come back to Liverpool with the added competition of Fabinho in the No. 6 position, but outside of him there isn't really an out-and-out defensive midfielder in Liverpool's ranks, something Grujic could capitalise on.

The man towers at 1.9m and is a beast in the air, winning 3.6 out of 5.4 aerial duels P90. He wins more duels than any other Liverpool midfielder, and his tackling stats are not too dissimilar from those of Fabinho and Henderson.

But Liverpool will be a step up for the 24-year-old. Coming into a team that commands more possession and demands quality on the ball, Grujic may well find himself out of his depth. His touches and passes are at least five times less P90 than any other Liverpool midfielder, and his passing accuracy is also considerably lower.

Grujic has earned a shot at Klopp’s team as a role player after fitting in seamlessly in Germany, but whether he is a long-term answer for Liverpool’s depth in midfield is another question entirely.

Harry Wilson (Bournemouth)

Despite consistently impressing in pre-season and enjoying a breakout season on loan at Derby County last year, Harry Wilson has so far failed to break into the Liverpool first-team and has spent this season on loan again, this time in the Premier League with Bournemouth.

23 yrs - M, AM (R) - Bournemouth
75
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1594
Played matches
28
7
Passes P90
31.00
Shots P90
2.89
Shots On target P90
0.96
Successful passing %
77%
Final third passes P90
13.01

The Welshman has scored seven goals for the struggling Cherries, just one less than top scorer Callum Wilson, and ranks third for Expected Goals (xG), fifth in Expected Assists (xA) and is in the top 10 in Key Passes P90 minutes amongst Bournemouth players.

Liverpool’s emphasis on crossing is obvious in the way they build up attacks, and Wilson attempts 1.9 crosses P90, which is more than Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane playing the same role from the left-hand side.

In a similar way Liverpool have come to use set-pieces to their advantage under Klopp, Wilson has scored two direct-free kicks and has an excellent delivery on his left side, which would complement Trent Alexander-Arnold from the right and offer a different option when the side is rotated.

At 23, Wilson must kick on and surely break into the side next season if ever he is going to. Klopp said in December he would have sold Wilson already if he didn’t believe there was a future for him at Anfield, and the Welshman must now take command of his own destiny.

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