Jurgen Klopp last week hinted at changing Liverpool’s approach to loaning out players, with the club currently having 18 players out on loan, many of whom aren’t receiving much playing time.
Having inherited a thin squad and a long injury list, there’s several players currently out on loan that could have been very useful for Klopp to have had around Melwood and available especially for Europa League games.
The boss has been asked about the possibility of recalling loaned players, admitting that he isn’t sure of the rules regarding this. This was following contrasting reports on whether Lazar Markovic can be recalled in January.
Speaking ahead of the Chelsea match, Klopp told how he had gone to watch Sheyi Ojo for Wolves but the youngster was not playing.
“I try to learn all about English football because it is completely different to other countries. Liverpool a few years ago had 20 to 25 players out on loan,” he said.
Liverpool had 19 players out on loan at the start of this season.
“Maybe we need to cool down the situation a little bit, hold on to these guys longer and let them play in our second team and develop as a team.”
The problem there is that Liverpool’s under-21 side currently have just two games scheduled for this month, and only seven for the whole of February, March and April. There are though four games a month in December and January – when postponements are more likely and heavy pitches are less conducive to development football. Great planning from the Premier League.
“Usually a manager in England has not enough time to change things. But we will try to take our ideas and change a few things for the future,” added Klopp.
He would be right to change a few things about Liverpool’s approach to the loan market.
Of the 18 players currently out on loan, just three started for their temporary club this weekend.
Admittedly several of the 18 are currently injured and some did not have a game, but this has been the norm for most weekends during the season, even when not injured.
One of the more baffling things Brendan Rodgers did this summer was to give Andre Wisdom a new deal, send back Javier Manquillo early, then loan out Wisdom and leave no cover for Nathaniel Clyne.
Wisdom has started just one Premier League game for Norwich City, been an unused sub in six, and on as a sub once.
Meanwhile, Clyne has started 14 of Liverpool’s 15 games in all competitions this season with no cover available for him, and Manquillo’s a regular for Marseille in Ligue 1. Thanks Brendan.
It was said this summer that Rodgers had doubts over whether Markovic would be able to adapt to the physical nature of English football. So where does he get sent out on loan? Turkey.
Not to a Premier League side where he can play every week in England, but to Turkey. Logic lost.
Markovic is impressing with Fener, being deployed in his natural attacking midfield role. Who’d have thought it.
Bafflement number three arrived when Rodgers handed 34-year-old Kolo Toure a new contract, then loaned out Tiago Ilori to Aston Villa (complete with option to purchase the Portuguese centre-back at the end of the season).
Sure, Toure’s a nice guy and the squad lacks experience, but he’s started three times this season and come off injured in the first half in two of them. There is absolutely no sense in having him as fourth-choice centre-back instead of Ilori.
Ilori is yet to make an appearance for Villa, which may make you think Liverpool were right not to keep him around, but that’s only if you trust Tim Sherwood’s judgement.
The 22-year-old showed enough at the European Under-21s in the summer that he needed to be given a chance at Liverpool, with the Europa League a perfect place to have been given that chance this season.
While the above three were loans decided by the manager, allowing first-team players to leave, there’s also been some bizarre moves for academy players heading out to lower leagues in England.
Left-back Joe Maguire spent a month at Leyton Orient, making one appearance in the Football League Trophy. He’s been involved in training at Melwood with Klopp lately and no doubt learnt far more.
Centre-back Lloyd Jones headed up to the shambles that is Blackpool. Hardly the best environment for a player to develop in.
Right-back Ryan McLaughlin joined Danny Ward up at Aberdeen. He’s started once, but has come on in the 89th minute twice.
There are some who are getting regular football, such as goalkeepers Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon) and Ward, and indeed Ojo at Wolves, but there seems to have been a rather scattergun approach to loans rather than an actual plan.
“I’m not sure in this moment it’s always best to give young players to other clubs,” says Klopp. “I think it’s a kind of pressure you don’t need at that age.”
Managers in the lower leagues are almost constantly in survival mode, with the sack regularly looming. They need to be brave to give young players a chance, especially players who aren’t particularly physical and whose qualities are more technical.
This isn’t suggesting that Wisdom or McLaughlin, or Ilori, should be starting games for Liverpool, but at least if they were around the club and given opportunity in the League Cup and Europa League we could actually have true assessments of whether they are good enough.
The Reds make the 4,000 mile round-trip to Russia to face Rubin Kazan this week, it would have been nice if Klopp had better options available so he didn’t require regular first-team players to make the trip ahead of Sunday’s home game against Crystal Palace.
LIVERPOOL’S LOANED PLAYERS THIS WEEKEND
Danny Ward – Aberdeen – STARTED
Ryan McLaughlin – Aberdeen – UNUSED SUB
Luis Alberto – Deportivo La Coruna – SUB
Lloyd Jones – Blackpool – INJURED
Jordan Williams – Swindon Town – INJURED
Kevin Stewart – Swindon Town – INJURED
Lawrence Vigouroux – Swindon Town – STARTED
Andre Wisdom – Norwich City – INJURED
Sheyi Ojo – Wolves – STARTED
Harry Wilson – Crewe Alexandra – NOT IN SQUAD
Mario Balotelli – AC Milan – INJURED
Lazar Markovic – Fenerbahce – NO GAME
Samed Yesil – FC Luzern – SUB
Sergi Canos – Brentford – UNUSED SUB
Taiwo Awoniyi – FSV Frankfurt – NO GAME
Tiago Ilori – Aston Villa – NO GAME
Allan – Seinajoen Jalkapallokerho – SEASON FINISHED
Ryan Kent – Coventry – SUB
We’ll have our regular loan watch round-up online later today.