Continuing our end-of-season loan reports, we take a look at how Sergi Canos has fared during his season-long spell at Brentford.
It’s often hard to predict how a first loan move away will work out for a young, upcoming talent.
Some struggle to get to terms with the pressure of a first-team environment away from home comforts, while others come into their own and shine, taking full advantage of the opportunity.
On loan at Championship side Brentford this season, it’s safe to say Canos enjoyed the latter of those experiences, with the Spaniard enjoying a fantastic year at Griffin Park which could see him go on to enjoy an Anfield future.
Sergi Canos, 2015/16
- Appearances: 39
- Starts: 19
- On as sub: 20
- Unused sub: 2
- Goals: 7
- Assists: 5
- Minutes played: 1,761
- Additional notes – Goal of the Season; Community Player of the Year winner
Canos at Brentford
Operating with a 4-2-3-1 formation under three different managers this season, Canos enjoyed a regular role in the three man attacking unit, playing predominantly from the right.
From there he added a technically gifted, energetic and skilful option to a good footballing side who enjoyed a positive season finishing 9th in the Championship. The Bees could have seen a play-off finish had it not been for some inconsistent patches of form.
Alongside his talent, Canos earned plaudits for his work-rate and positive attitude, never shirking the 46-game battle that is the second tier and really buying into the ethos of the London club – factors that contributed to him winning the fans’ hearts.
Starting just once under Marinus Dijkhuizen after arriving in London, Canos’ combination of raw ability and desire saw him gradually grow into an important part of the team under Caretaker boss Lee Carsley, and in particular, new permanent appointment, Dean Smith.
Oppositely to Dijkhuizen, the English duo showed faith in the youngster, handing him increased game time and eventually a consistent role – opportunities he grabbed with both hands.
Talent that had shown in flashes became regular displays with a first goal against Nottingham Forest providing the catalyst for rapid progress and increasing impacts under Smith.
That included a match-winning and stunning solo effort against Reading for which Canos won Brentford’s Goal-of-the-Season, and a further four strikes and assists complemented influential displays as the teenager produced an impressive second half and end to the season.
He ended 2015/16 with seven strikes and five assists in 38 league appearances – just 18 starts – making for an impressive tally in a debut professional campaign.
His on-pitch talent was recognised with the club’s goal of the year award, but equally as commendably, his off-pitch work was too as he was named club’s Community Player of the Year.
The awards put the icing on the cake of a fantastic season at a club Canos took to his Twitter to say “will always be in my heart.”
The Griffin Park View
Community Player of the Year and Goal of the Season… Thank you very much. My family and I will always be bees???? pic.twitter.com/RwO1jcAoCz
— Sergi Canós Tenés (@sergicanos) May 9, 2016
Overall, how would you assess Canos’ season? Was it a surprise to see him do so well considering it was first spell of regular first-team action?
He has done really well this year, both on and off the pitch. His attitude around the training ground has been excellent and I think the senior players here have noticed that. He has scored goals, created them and also played in each position in our front line so he’s very adaptable.
I don’t know if it was surprising, but it was great to see how quickly he became comfortable at this level.
What impressed you most about his game, and where do you feel he needs to improve?
Something we all noticed very quickly about Sergi was his energy. He can really increase the tempo of an attack and create space for other players, he’s very unselfish.
I think Sergi will improve, as all players do, with more experience. With more games will come the ability to read situations better and anticipate when to chase things and when to let them go.
After an excellent season at Championship level, what do you think is the next step for Canos? Would he benefit from another loaned experience, perhaps on the Premier League stage?
I think Sergi would do well in either setting to be honest. He certainly has the ability to play for a Premier League team, but would obviously benefit from more game time and might get that at a smaller club. He made 38 appearances for Brentford this season, another year like that certainly wouldn’t impede his development.
Do you think Canos is ready to force his way into Jurgen Klopp’s plans for next season and thinking more long-term, can he have a future at Anfield?
Sergi is still so young, so I think with more time he can certainly be a great player in the future and it isn’t beyond him to push for a place in the Liverpool side. He’s had an excellent year, and has now put a tick in one of the many boxes on the way to becoming a Premier League regular.
With more experience, both domestically and with the Spain youth setup, he would certainly be the sort of player that a top flight crowd would enjoy watching.
Any other thoughts you would like to enlighten us all to?
I think one thing that stands out for me is to recognise how much he appreciates the fans of the club he plays for. He enjoys the support he gets from the stands but he also lends a hand to the local area as a way of giving back. He won Community Player of the Year for 2015/16 after helping out the Community Sports Trust on a regular basis.
Canos’ Anfield Future
Having enjoyed such a productive loan spell in a tough division, Canos’ immediate future has to be focussing on making an impact at Anfield – providing he himself still sees his future at the club amid speculation of a potential exit to QPR or Watford.
A loan move back to the Championship should be a last resort after making such a positive impression at Griffin Park, while being a prospect who genuinely looks like he can make an impact at Liverpool in the not too distant future, a loan move abroad is equally as uninteresting.
Returning this summer to work under Jurgen Klopp properly for the first time is something the Spaniard has already spoken of his excitement at and it should be done with a view to a first-team place.
It will be hard for the 19-year-old to force his way in though, especially with fewer games next season due to no European football commitments, meaning less rotation is needed, and summer arrivals sure to add to an already populated attacking department.
But having spoken of changing the approach to loans alongside the alterations to the system that once he’s out he can’t return as readily meaning depth is needed, Klopp could keep him as youthful, talented cover while looking to force a way into the team.
— Sergi Canós Tenés (@sergicanos) May 15, 2016
If Klopp deems a place in his set-up too much too soon for Canos currently and decides further development would be better, the club should do their best to ensure that is to a lower Premier League side, handing him crucial experience of the top stage.
However, his immediate task remains to return to Merseyside this pre-season and impress Klopp, building on his Brentford spell and Reds debut at West Brom to prove he can become a part of first-team plans, the way fellow youngster Sheyi Ojo has.
Since his arrival Klopp has proven his willingness to hand youth a chance, and if Canos impresses, you can bet an opportunity will come his way regardless of who stands in front of him.
Canos’ “dreams” of receiving a trademark post-match ‘Klopp hug’ may not come true next season, but if he commits his future, he will certainly receive one in years to come.