HAS Jürgen Klopp ripped up Liverpool’s loan policy? A string of young players have recently returned to the club, with seven of the 17 put on borrowed time returning to Melwood since the manager arrived at the club in October.
Are they back just so Jürgen can have a closer look at them and integrate them into our set up, or is the gaffer hopeful they can contribute for the first team in the second half of the season?
We asked three supporters of clubs that have had our players on loan their opinions on what they saw and whether the youngsters looked to have what it takes to make it at the top.
DANNY WARD: ABERDEEN
Ryan Crombie: A Red Point of View
TAW: The reaction to Ward coming back to Liverpool from Dons fans was very strong. How key has he been to your success this season?
ARPOV: He has been an integral member of the squad and probably the most consistent performer in the Aberdeen team.
Ward has more than bailed us out of some tough situations and in games where he has been rather idle, all of a sudden when forced to produce a match-defining save he has delivered. Without his lean, agile figure between the sticks I dare say we would be at least eight or so points worse off than we are currently.
He is undoubtedly the best goalkeeper we have had in the last decade, maybe even further back. Our loss is of course your gain.
TAW: What are his strengths as a goalkeeper?
ARPOV: Shot stopping should be an essential requirement for any goalkeeper but some of his saves in a Dons jersey have been magnificent.
If you haven’t seen any footage of his saves up here I suggest you go have a look.
Decision making is up there with some of the best I’ve seen, he knows when to rush out to the ball or to stay on his line, he knows when to punch the ball or clutch it to his chest.
Due to this assurance between the sticks, it boosts the confidence of the whole team. Defenders believe in the keeper and then the positive mood reverberates all the way up to the striker.
TAW: Anything he needs to work on?
ARPOV: Probably being slightly more commanding but that’s natural and will come with experience, he is still only 22 years of age.
TAW: How much of an impact do you expect him to make back at Liverpool?
ARPOV: If he performs with the consistency and quality he did for us then I have absolutely no qualms that he will have a huge and positive impact at Liverpool.
If Klopp decides eventually he isn’t the man then I’m positive he will shine elsewhere (he’s more than welcome to come back up to Scotland), he possesses too much quality to end up in the doldrums of football.
In his first game for us he was thrown in goal in a tough Europa League tie away in Macedonia. Don’t underestimate the character it takes to come through that test with flying colours.
He did and continued to do so in his period at Aberdeen. Of course he just requires a chance and if Klopp shows the same belief in him that Derek McInnes did then there’s no doubt he will eventually be at the top in football as Liverpool’s and Wales’ number one.
SHEYI OJO: WOLVES
Richard Hobbs: Wolves Fancast
TAW: What were Wolves fans first impressions of Sheyi Ojo? How much of an impact did he have?
WF: Whenever a player, however young, comes from a big club you almost assume he must have a decent level of quality.
He signed a new contract for Liverpool on the same day he agreed to move on loan and that suggested he had a great deal of promise.
The difficulty for Ojo was that he was coming in to replace Bakary Sako, someone who had mesmerised fans with his ability and goals, so there was an expectation on him to perform from the first game.
Being young and inexperienced at this level, his first performances were inconsistent. He made an impact off the bench, chipping in with goals and assists against tired defenders. But when he played from the start he often made poor decisions on the ball, trying to do tricks when it was simpler to use his pace and technique to whip in a cross.
He would play with the air of someone who thought the game owed him something, going down lightly and playing a bit too casual.
It was also more than a little childish to delete all traces of playing for Wolves from his social media after going back to Anfield.
He is still young and raw, but if a coach can iron out his bad traits, he could be a very exciting winger.
TAW: He seemed to fall out of favour in December. Only getting a few minutes of pitch time. Any particular reason for that?
WF: Mainly not being consistent enough when he started and the emergence of Jordan Graham in the first team, who played with the directness Ojo did not show.
Since Graham came into the fold, he hasn’t put a foot wrong and hasn’t given Ojo a glimpse of a chance.
Unless there was an injury or a serious dip in form it would have been hard to see him getting back in the team, so it probably worked out best for all parties that he was recalled.
TAW: Is there anything about his play that makes you think he may have a future at the top level? Anything in particular he needs to work on?
He took all three of his goals well during his spell at Wolves and does have good technique when striking the ball.
For me, and it probably goes for most wingers, he needs to keep it simple and work on the basics — the old-fashioned wing play of creating half a yard of space and whipping in a cross.
He’s a strong lad when he decides to stay on his feet, has the power to go past a defender. But he needs to not always try a trick when he can simply go past them.
Considering how well he is regarded at England youth level and at Liverpool, I can see him in League One or the Championship in the next few seasons.
He might even have what it takes in the Premier League in a few years, if he ups his work rate.
RYAN KENT: COVENTRY
George Baker – blog
TAW: What were Coventry fans overall impressions of Kent. Was he a hit with supporters?
GB: The fans took a real liking to him and there was a real sense of disappointment when it was announced he was being recalled by Liverpool.
His attacking approach and ability to pull off tricks is not something Coventry fans have witnessed on too many occasions in recent years.
At times he caused frustration from the stands when his final ball was not to the same standard as his build-up play but, that said, we still wish he was here!
TAW: He tended to play as a sub, rather than a starter. What do you believe were the reasons behind that?
GB: I think his style of play suited coming off the bench as he is able to get in behind a tiring defence, especially given the pace he has.
I preferred when he started games as he always looked a threat for the opposition to deal with. The fact that we have so many attacking options was probably another factor as to why he appeared from the bench on so many occasions.
TAW: How does he compare with other young talents Coventry have had? Any reasons you believe Kent could make it at the top level?
At present we are blessed to have so much young talent — Adam Armstrong, Jacob Murphy and James Maddison. All have been playing to a high standard making it hard to choose between them, Kent included.
I’m confident that all the young lads will make it to the top. Kent’s ability to run with the ball with such pace is simply ridiculous for his age (19), and he is capable of producing some high quality crosses, too, it just needs to be on a more regular basis.
With Klopp’s history of nurturing young talent I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name on a Premier League team sheet in the near future.
TAW: Finally, can’t get you on without asking about Joe Cole. How’s his fitness??
Slowly but surely he is getting back to match fitness and displaying the level of performance we know he is capable of.
It seems to be taking a while for him to adapt to the pace of League One but I am confident that will come in due course.
It’s clear he just wants to play football given the financial sacrifice he will have made by dropping down to our level and agreeing to cancel his contract at Villa.
The influence he has in the dressing room, especially on the likes of players such as Ryan Kent, has to be a huge positive. I’m still finding it hard to believe we have signed him permanently!