We continue our mid-season look at Liverpool’s loaned players, this time assessing the fortunes of of Sergi Canos’ spell with Championship outfit, Brentford.
A first loan move away has the ability to make or break a young player at an early but vital part of their career.
It can prove an invaluable experience and the platform for further progress for some, but can equally be a tough and frustrating practice away from familiar surroundings.
Thankfully for Canos, it’s proving to be the former, with the Spanish midfielder enjoying a promising first half of the season with Brentford, where he has extended his stay until the end of the season.
Canos at Brentford
With the Bees operating in a 4-2-3-1 set up under three different managers, Canos has been stationed in a wide role.
Playing from the right, he’s provided a direct, skilful and technically gifted option to a good footballing side who sit in ninth place – a point off the play-off places – and has also impressed with the industry of his game, suiting well to the Bees’ attacking, high tempo style.
A turbulent start to the campaign under Marinus Dijkhuizen saw Canos used sparingly and left waiting for a proper chance to impress, limited to cameo roles under the Dutchman as he made one start in his first 12 outings.
His full debut came under caretaker boss Lee Carsley, and his appointment helped transform the Bees’ fortunes and saw the youngster show his quality, most notably in a game-changing display against Nottingham Forest.
The upturn and increased confidence stood the Reds loanee in good stead for the arrival of new permanent boss Dean Smith, who has really brought the teenager to life, with Canos starting four of the last five matches and scoring a sensational solo goal against Reading.
His importance to the team has grown with time, but Canos has also been one of the first withdrawn when starting; he is yet to complete 90 minutes for the Griffin Park side, playing usually between the 55-65 minutes.
Despite inconsistent action, in 17 appearances including five starts he’s registered three goals and an assist, with his willingness to drift inside, link-up, and make a telling contribution something he’s balanced well with the need to provide natural width.
It’s unsurprising after only 579 minutes that the winger doesn’t compare to the league’s most prolific contributors, but as he finds his feet in a developing side he has a strong platform to build from.
Quotes from Griffin Park
“I’m really enjoying it. The style of football suits me and I’m playing against men, rather than academy football.
“I’ve been at Brentford for a few months and feel I’m a new player. I’m improving every day and Liverpool are following my development.
Reflecting on his loan spell so far in November with Sky Sports, Canos said:
“I was scared before coming, but now I’m really happy. The first month was difficult to adapt and get used to the level, but now I think I’m finding it a little bit easier.
“It’s obviously not easy – it’s difficult to play in the Championship – but I’m finding it OK now. I’m learning a lot of new things every day, in every training session. That’s why I’m happy because I’m growing as a player. That’s the most important thing.
“I want to keep playing in the Championship and hopefully at Brentford. For me this opportunity is amazing. I’m growing a lot as a player so I want to stay.”
After successfully extending the Spaniard’s loan, Bees boss Dean Smith spoke highly of the teenager:
“I have been really pleased with Sergi and he has been progressing really well. Even though he is only 18-years-old, he has quite an old head on young shoulders.
“He has impressed me so far. He wants to learn and he wants to get better. He is enjoying himself here and he gives us something that we haven’t really got here in terms of his direct running and enthusiasm. It is encouraging to have a player like Sergi here for the rest of the season.”
The Griffin Park View
In order to gain a thorough insight into Canos’ impact and spell at Griffin Park, we spoke to loyal Bees fan, Lewis Sluman, a home and away follower of the Championship side.
What aspects of Canos’ game have impressed you and what do you feel are his weaknesses, or the areas of his game to work on?
There are many things to praise regarding Canos, especially his attitude and appetite for the game. He is always looking to impress, excite and entertain.
A downside to all wide players is typically their desire to get back or ability to make tackles but Canos does not fall into this category – he will put himself about and get stuck in.
My only concern would be his 90 minute fitness – does he have the physique yet to compete for the entire game in the Championship? I think with experience this will come.
Dean Smith has extended his loan to the end of the season, is this viewed as a good move by the new boss?
This is fantastic business, and I can see him affecting your first team in a way that Jordon Ibe has, if he is given the chance.
I would be surprised if we don’t actually make a permanent offer for him in January, we did the same with Harry Pritchard from Tottenham last year, but he had impressed Spurs far too much for them to give him up. Here’s hoping Klopp is too busy elsewhere…
Is there anything that has surprised you about Canos’ game or time with Brentford so far?
His off the field love for Brentford, being the club to give him the chance, has really caught all he fans by surprise. He thinks of himself as a bee, and the fans can see that both on and off the field.
What has been Canos’ best moment in a Brentford shirt so far?
The goal against Reading is the clear winner here.
I’ve seen him receive a cross field pass and instantly knock it inside the full-back before, it seems to be his trademark and a clear sign of his confidence.
Then taking it inside one more time, not afraid to use his left foot before unleashing a crisp strike…. 3,000 Brentford fans went absolutely nuts.
And finally, do you think Canos can have a future at Anfield?
Liverpool do give youth a chance but with only a reasonable finish on the cards for Liverpool this season (being honest!) I imagine you will invest heavily again and Canos might be out on loan for one more year.
If he can impress again with another year of experience in a competitive first team environment under his belt, then he can return to Anfield with the intention to make an impression.
After extending his loan until the end of the season, Canos’ immediate focus must be on building on the positive impact he has made at Griffin Park and enjoying a strong second half of the season.
The Spaniard has made a real impression – particularly in recent weeks, scoring twice and being rewarded with a starting shirt more regularly – and his next mission must be to continue his good form and nail down a starting place in the Bees attacking set up.
Accomplishing that, and in turn having confidence that he is a chosen feature of the manager’s set up, could provide the creative midfielder with the belief required to really elevate his game, and perform with greater consistency something that will no doubt be helped by increased game time.
If he can do both of those in a supportive environment such as Brentford’s, Canos’s development really will have been aided, which will hopefully assist Brentford in their pursuit for a play-off chase, contributing to an all-round successful loan.
Having impressed at such a tender age in a competitive, challenging first team environment at a tough and quality level, there’s no doubt the Spaniard has an exciting future at Anfield.
Showing his ability to muck in and compete alongside his undeniable raw ability could really endear him Klopp ahead of returning to Merseyside ready to compete for his place in the Liverpool squad for next season.
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