Spending time out on loan can often be a defining point in a player’s career, especially when temporarily departing a club the calibre of Liverpool.
Some, such as Divock Origi, come back from loan and make themselves into heroes at Anfield, others, such as Luis Alberto and Danny Ings, will have productive spells and go on to have successful careers elsewhere. The vast majority, however, will depart the club and often fade into obscurity.
Liverpool sent 16 players out on loan during the 2019/20 season, with all now appearing to be at crossroads in their tenures at the club.
So, what should Jurgen Klopp do with each of those stars; keep them as squad players, send them out for another temporary spell, or is it time to sell them?
Let’s have a look…
Loan club: Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga)
We start with perhaps the most difficult one.
Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool manager, Grujic signed for the Reds from Red Star Belgrade in January 2016, and having found minutes hard to come by on Merseyside, has spent the last two seasons out on loan in the German capital.
The 24-year-old has generally impressed, playing a vital role in Bruno Labbadia’s side, possessing the versatility to play in a more advanced midfield role, or sitting as the deepest lying midfielder.
Grujic also has a decent eye for goal for a midfield player, scoring 8 goals in 45 appearances since joining on loan in 2018.
With Hertha keen to sign him permanently, as well as likely interest from elsewhere, this is the make-or-break period of Grujic’s Liverpool career; another loan spell would do nobody any favours.
His physicality and robustness would make him a decent squad option, and he could be a good rotational player to have during domestic cup games; I’d like to see him given a chance and to offer something else to this side, but if an offer of around £25m comes in, that may be difficult to resist.
Verdict: Keep, but consider selling if a decent offer arrives
Loan club: Bournemouth (Premier League)
Harry Wilson’s start to life with Bournemouth was fantastic.
Lighting up the Vitality Stadium, the Welshman scored 6 goals in 13 games by the end of November, including a sensational free-kick against Man City.
Since then though, his campaign really went downhill. Scoring only a single goal since the end of November with one against Brighton in January, and a single start since the restart, it really was a season of two halves.
You could just call it a poor period of form, and 7 goals all season for a winger in a relegated side isn’t actually too bad, but the worrying element is his creativity.
Wilson managed zero assists all season; apart from long-shots and being a spectacular free-kick taker, he doesn’t have much else in his arsenal.
With the likes of Harvey Elliott breaking through, Wilson still having a Liverpool future looks highly unlikely; it is certainly the time to sell, and you have to hope an offer of around £20m arrives, which might be a tough ask in the current climate.
Loan club: Besiktas (Super Lig)
Karius actually cut his two-year loan spell with Besiktas short following a dispute over unpaid wages with the Turkish club, but it would be a big surprise to see him play for Liverpool again.
The German has had a mixed spell with Besiktas, finding periods of good form, while the occasional howler is also prevalent in his game.
While Karius has previously backed himself to make it at Anfield again, the black cloud that still hangs over from his nightmare display in Kiev two years ago means a departure is best for all parties.
I rate him as a better goalkeeper than Adrian, but the pressure and stigma of playing for Liverpool again would be too much to handle.
A permanent move away is for the best, with Hertha Berlin accredited with interest.
Loan club: Swansea City (Championship)
Undoubtedly the most successful of the loaned players this season, Brewster has lit up the Championship since joining Swansea City in January, with his highly impressive 11 goals in 22 appearances helping the Swans make a late promotion push.
With a natural poaching instinct, Brewster is an out-and-out goalscorer, and would arguably make a better squad option than Divock Origi when the Reds are chasing a goal, while giving him extended runs in domestic cup games.
However, getting 10 minutes off the bench and possibly being shunted on to the wing will do little for Brewster’s development, and another loan move looks more beneficial.
Swansea want him back for the entirety of next season, although a second Championship loan has little plus points if he wants to prove his credentials and see if he has a real chance at making it with us long-term.
A Premier League loan would be the logical next step; Leeds United or Aston Villa could be fine options.
Verdict: Premier League Loan
Loan club: Huddersfield Town (Championship)
It hasn’t been the easiest season for Grabara at Huddersfield, with manager Jan Siewert getting sacked just mere months after bringing the Polish youth international into the club. A nasty head injury against Hull back in January then ended his season prematurely.
He started excellently, standing out in the Terriers’ 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers in August, yet mistakes against Wigan and Millwall did draw criticism from supporters.
Big errors in a difficult league isn’t something to be overly alarmed about for a 20-year-old though, and another full season on loan under his belt would be the smart move.
Loan club: Rangers (Scottish Premiership)
Ojo started the season in great form for Rangers, with a memorable thunderbolt against Feyenoord back in September helping start the Scottish outfit’s Europa League journey off on the right foot.
It’s been downhill since then though, with only one league start since the end of October, and any cameos being marred by inconsistency and frustration.
He looked a prospect in the early stages of Klopp’s reign, but now 23, his chances of making it at Anfield look slim to none.
A sixth loan spell would have little redeeming factors to it; a permanent sale is needed.
Loan club: Oxford United (League One)
It seems a lifetime ago that a 17-year-old Ben Woodburn became Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer, and under a year later was scoring late screamers to send the whole of Wales into delirium.
A season on loan with Oxford United looked the ideal opportunity for Woodburn to get regular minutes, and gain some possible momentum back, but the campaign has unfortunately been a challenging one.
Early good form was interrupted by a foot injury, and just as he stepped up his recovery, an identical injury in the other foot halted his progress. The season being ended early due to the pandemic came precisely at the wrong time as well.
Not having a defined position as either a midfielder or a forward has really hindered the 20-year-old’s progress, but I hold on to hope purely because of the natural talent he possess and showed during his breakthrough.
Another loan, hopefully injury free, could serve as one final chance to remind Klopp what he has to offer.
Loan club: VfB Stuttgart (2. Bundesliga)
Phillips took the bold step to move to Germany, and it turned out to be a smart choice as he helped Stuttgart earn promotion back to the Bundesliga, making 22 appearances in the process.
It was also an unusual campaign for the 23-year-old, as he was recalled by Jurgen Klopp in January, played the FA Cup Merseyside Derby, won and kept a clean sheet, then returned back to Stuttgart.
Klopp choosing to recall Phillips rather than starting Sepp van den Berg or Ki-Jana Hoever could suggest the manager rates Phillips highly, and sees a future for him at the club; with Dejan Lovren officially departing, could a window of opportunity open for Phillips?
A more traditional, old-school centre-back, he doesn’t seem Liverpool quality, but there are worse players to have in the squad and to utilise in the cup games.
Verdict: Keep, but sell if a good offer arrives
Loan club: FSV Mainz 05 (Bundesliga)
Awoniyi has never made an appearance for Liverpool after difficulties in obtaining a work permit, and the striker’s sixth temporary spell away from Anfield was a flat one.
1 goal in 12 games is an underwhelming return, and a scary looking head injury against Augsburg curtailed his season.
Awoniyi clearly isn’t Liverpool quality, and it’s probably best to cash in on the 22-year-old.
Loan club: Reading (Championship)
One of Klopp’s first breakout players from the academy, Ejaria spent another season with Reading after ending the 2018/19 season on loan with them.
Skilled with the ball at his feet and a highly adept dribbler, the midfielder has impressed for the Royals this season, and was all set to have his loan made permanent for a reported £3m at the end of the campaign.
However, rumours of financial issues mean Reading may be unable to complete a deal; should it be unable to happen, the Reds should still look to sell, and should be able to get a better fee based on his displays throughout the season.
Verdict: If Reading loan isn’t made permanent, look to sell
Loan club: Hull City (Championship)
Kane want on loan in the second-half of the season, having been a more senior figure in the predominately academy team that got thrashed 5-0 by Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup back in December.
The midfielder’s spell with the Tigers wasn’t too bad, with 2 goals in 11 games, including a peach of a free-kick; a hamstring injury cut his time there short and he couldn’t save them from relegation.
Clearly not Liverpool standard, but a decent player for the lower leagues, as evidenced by him being named in League One’s Team of the Season a few years back.
Time to move on.
Loan club: Mlada Boleslav (Czech First League)
A bit of an unknown entity, the 20-year-old Colombian left-back is another who has never featured for Liverpool due to work permit issues.
Possessing lightning pace and good going forwards, Arroyo has made 5 appearances for Mlada, but hasn’t really set the world alight.
Unlikely he’ll ever be a Liverpool regular, yet another loan is needed to help with the work permit problem.
Loan club: Kidderminster Harriers (National League North)
Having been at Liverpool’s academy since U10 level, Williams took the step to the sixth tier of English football to gain more experience, where he made 29 appearances before the season was cut short.
A commanding centre-back, who has already played U23 football for Liverpool, the 19-year-old has plenty of time on his side.
He would likely benefit more from either another loan, or just to stick around with the academy and get the most from the facilities there.
Verdict: Loan or stay with the academy