The 12 Liverpool players out on loan in 2020-21 and how they’ve been faring
Liverpool have one of the strongest squads in world football, but that does not mean Jurgen Klopp has no interest in promoting from within.
Since his arrival, the German has given plenty of chances to academy youngsters, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones the standouts among them.
Now, Liverpool have a new crop of up-and-comers – and a few misfits – out on loan at clubs across the world trying to prove they are deserving of a spot in next season’s first-team squad. Here, we take a look at how all 12 of them are faring.
Grujic was the very first player Klopp signed as Liverpool manager, coming in from Red Star Belgrade as a 19-year-old in January 2016, but he is yet to make a real impression on the Liverpool first team.
After two years at Hertha Berlin, he returned to Liverpool at the start of this season and made two appearances, scoring against Lincoln in the League Cup.
Yet with plenty of players ahead of him following the arrival of Thiago Alcantara, he was subsequently sent out on his fourth loan, this time to Porto.
Unfortunately, it has not been smooth sailing. In his first start, he was withdrawn at half-time and he was sent off in his second. He has only completed 90 minutes once – in a 2-0 win over Olympiacos in the Champions League.
Given that record, Porto boss Sergio Conceicao seems surprisingly happy with him. “Grujic is better,” Conceicao told tvi24 in December 2020. “He has huge potential. For his height and his physical capabilities, he is a technically strong player in his short and long passing.
“[But] I think he should [pass] more quickly … He also needs to be aggressive.”
Woodburn famously became Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer when he found the net against Leeds in a League Cup quarter-final in 2016. Since then, though, he has struggled to push on.
Now 21, he is following up injury-hit spells at Sheffield United and Oxford United with a season on loan at Blackpool in League One.
It’s fair to say it’s not been ideal. His four starts and seven sub appearances have brought no goals.
Seventeen-cap Poland Under-21 ‘keeper Grabara moved to Merseyside in 2018 but is yet to make a senior appearance.
He spent last season in the Championship with Huddersfield, playing 28 times as the Terriers just about avoided relegation, and is now back at Danish Superliga club AGF, where he spent a few months in 2019.
It hasn’t been an entirely happy return, however. AGF are third in the league after 13 games and just three points off top spot, but after two silly mistakes in November, the club’s goalkeeping coach Nikolai Pold had some bizarre advice for Grabara.
“He must become good friends with the ball again,” Pold told Arhus Stiftstidende. “That’s why I tell him, just like I tell the other three goalkeepers in the squad often, that he should replace his girlfriend with the ball.”
Some might be tempted to make a joke about clean sheets here, but, well, we’re not that uncouth, are we?
For a lot of Liverpool fans, Karius will fall into the bracket of ‘the less said about him the better’, so we’ll keep it brief.
After two seasons with Besiktas, Karius joined Union Berlin this term and it’s not going very well. He’s played only once and the Bundesliga side reportedly want to send him back to Merseyside early.
Not great for Liverpool’s loan ‘keepers, then. Good job they’ve got Caoimhin Kelleher.
At the same club as Karius, but doing rather better, is Nigeria Under-23 centre-forward Awoniyi. He has banged in five in his last eight appearances, helping Union to a lofty fifth place in the table.
This is his seventh loan move, and not all of them have been successful, but he is finally finding his feet in the German capital and is now being touted for a full international call up.
READ: The story of FC Union Berlin, the cult club you all wish you supported
“Wherever we play Harry Wilson, he’s going to affect the game,” Cardiff boss Neil Harris said after December’s victory over Birmingham. “He might not be in the game for 15 or 20 minutes… ut then he has moments of magic.”
And Wilson’s already had a fair few this season, with four assists and three goals in 15 league starts for the Bluebirds.
The 23-year-old is an established international with Wales and is now onto his fifth loan, including a season spent in the Premier League with Bournemouth last term.
WATCH: Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson scores stunner for Cardiff City
Alongside Wilson at Cardiff is Ojo, who was the most expensive 14-year-old in history when Liverpool signed him from MK Dons for £2million in 2011. But after a few appearances in Klopp’s first season, he has not had many chances at Liverpool.
This season is his fifth spell away from Anfield, having spent time at Wolves, Fulham, Reims and Rangers in recent years.
Given both Ojo and Wilson are now 23, they may feel they are best served by a permanent move in the summer.
Seventeen-year-old Elliott is perhaps the most talented of Liverpool’s loanee pool and made eight appearances for the Reds last season before being sent to Blackburn to gain more experience this time around.
In Blackburn’s first game of 2021, Elliott provided a lovely assist for Adam Armstrong, showing why he’s already so well thought of at the Lancashire club.
He has played 19 times for Rovers this season, scoring five goals, setting up six more, and putting in some electric performances.
“We have to be careful with him because he’s still very young, but he’s almost the go-to man for us at the moment, he’s playing well and getting goals,” former Liverpool winger Stewart Downing told Blackburn’s official website in December 2020.
READ: Harvey Elliott proves again that he is Sadio Mane’s heir apparent at Liverpool
Lewis made his Liverpool debut in their FA Cup clash against Shrewsbury last season and is now out on loan in France with Ligue 2 side Amiens.
Unfortunately, the 21-year-old left-back cuts a peripheral figure and hasn’t played since early November.
Arroyo joined Liverpool from Colombian club Fortaleza CEIF in 2018 but is yet to get anywhere near the first team. He has already had loan spells at Mallorca B, Gent and Czech side FK Mlada Boleslav (yeah, us neither) and is now with Salamanca in Spain’s third tier.
Salamanca are currently bottom of their 10-team group, having lost seven of their eight games. Given that points tally, the fact they’ve only conceded 14 is not too bad, but we can’t imagine Arroyo is enjoying himself much.
This month, Millar signed a new Liverpool contract and joined Charlton – following in the footsteps of his dad, Alan, a former Addicks youth player – on loan until the end of the season, where he will be looking to help with their League One promotion push.
The Canadian striker has captained the Reds’ Under-23 team for the first part of this season, following an 18-month loan with Kilmarnock in Scotland.
He’s not been a prolific scorer to date, but as manager Lee Bowyer told Charlton’s official site: “We’ve lacked that pace to hit teams on the break and Liam is going to bring that to us as an option.”
Last but not least is Gallacher, who recently returned from a very odd loan spell with Toronto FC. Owing to coronavirus-related travel restrictions in Canada, Toronto had to relocate to Hartford, Connecticut in the US for the whole season.
Despite that inconvenience, Toronto finished second in the Eastern Conference, with Liverpool’s young Scot playing 10 games. We’ll have to wait and see where he pops up next.
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