Liverpool FC Loan Watch: Mid-season progress report for the Reds’ loanees

22 December 2016

With the season nearing its halfway mark, we take a look how Liverpool’s loanees have fared at their current clubs.


Twelve Reds departed on loan last summer to spend extended spells with clubs throughout the Football League and across Europe.

Only 10 remain at their temporary homes, with Adam Bogdan’s season ending prematurely due to injury and Jack Dunn having returned early from an unsuccessful time at Morecambe.

For those still on loan it’s been a time of mixed fortunes. Here is how they’ve fared so far.

 

Lazar Markovic (Sporting CP)

SANTA CLARA, USA - Saturday, July 30, 2016: Liverpool's Lazar Markovic in action against AC Milan during the International Champions Cup 2016 game on day ten of the club's USA Pre-season Tour at the Levi's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Appearances: 13
Starts: 6
Sub Apps: 7


It was hoped a return to Portugal would see Markovic recapture the form that prompted Liverpool to sign him, but this hasn’t happened.

After promising early signs with two goals, Markovic has been hugely disappointing and looks like man out of confidence as he’s seen his match action dwindle from cameo roles to being left out of matchday squads altogether.

An injury setback has ruined any hope of an upturn, but his form before that offered little encouragement, with Markovic being booed by his own fans on one occasion.


Has the loan been successful so far? No. Certain sections of Reds fans still had hopes for Markovic, but this has been a disaster for the Serbian, whose career has completely stagnated.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? The first priority is returning from injury, and after that, rediscovering his passion for the game seems a good start.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? No. His future was made clear when Jurgen Klopp allowed him to depart last summer—Markovic’s Liverpool career is over.


 

Jon Flanagan (Burnley)

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 20, 2016: John Flanagan arrives ahead of Liverpools game against Burnley in the FA Premier League match at Turf Moore. (Pic by Gavin Trafford/Propaganda)

Appearances: 5
Starts: 3
Sub Apps: 2


It’s been a frustrating season so far for Flanagan, denied the regular game time he hoped for after a long injury layoff.

“I know Burnley aren’t going to be challenging for the league title,” he said in November, “but I’ve come here to play games, get my fitness levels back up and hopefully help keep Burnley in the Premier League.”

Frustratingly, this hasn’t materialised, with Flanagan becoming a backup figure in Sean Dyche’s squad, which the Clarets boss insisted the defender was happy with.

Flanagan’s rare outings—four at left-back and one at right-back—haven’t impressed, unsurprisingly given such little action, but he featured in victory over Everton and a draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, which he certainly would have enjoyed.


Has the loan been successful so far? No. Having played such little football—the main reason behind his move—it’s hard to say anything else.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Flanagan is clearly unfavoured by Dyche, but he must continue working hard in attempt to force his way into contention. Better performances in those rare outings will be key.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? Potentially, yes. But with the way Klopp is pushing through the next crop of Anfield’s youngsters, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Flanagan’s future is beginning to look uncertain.


 

Andre Wisdom (Red Bull Salzburg)

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 20, 2016: Liverpool's Andre Wisdom in action against Huddersfield Town during pre-season friendly match at the John Smithís Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Appearances: 11
Starts: 8
Sub Apps: 3


Wisdom’s recent loans at West Brom and Norwich were wholly unimpressive, and it initially seemed this surprising move would follow suit.

But Wisdom insisted “it’s a good opportunity to learn a different culture and a different style of play,” and after a slow start following an early injury—his fortunes have picked up.

He has enjoyed more regular action in the last month, with five outings in his preferred centre-back role, and positively, his form has improved with a consistent run.


Has the loan been successful so far? Somewhat. He’s played more often, and more importantly, has impressed since finding his feet, so signs are promising that an overdue positive spell may finally transpire.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? The challenge for Wisdom is to maintain his strong form when the season resumes to establish himself as a permanent fixture at centre-back in the starting lineup.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? No. Out on loan for a fourth time, Wisdom still has no future at Anfield.


 

Allan Rodrigues (Hertha Berlin)

Appearances: 9
Starts: 3
Sub Apps: 6


It’s been a largely frustrating time for the young Brazilian, having received little match action in the Bundesliga.

Being used so sparingly hasn’t allowed him to showcase his talents fully, but there have been promising signs over his development physically, now visibly stronger in stature and on the ball.

Having stated “my goal remains to play for Liverpool,” he will certainly need this for the Premier League stage, if he manages to secure a work permit and Anfield place.


Has the loan been successful so far? Somewhat. It’s been positive for Allan to step up to a platform like the Bundesliga after spells in Iceland and Belgium.

Playing on big stages will help him become familiar with the level he’s aspiring to reach, but with this move about helping him secure a work permit, for which game time is key, it’s less easy to be encouraged.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Allan has to try and show more influence in his irregular outings to increase his opportunities for action, but it is vital he continues to develop physically to further complement his technical play.

Has it changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? No. Allan’s future all hinges on securing a work permit and not until he gets one will his future become clear.


 

Danny Ward (Huddersfield)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 13, 2016: Liverpool's goalkeeper Daniel Ward warms-up before the Premier League match against Arsenal at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Appearances: 23
Starts: 23
Sub Apps: 0


Ward’s spell with Huddersfield has arguably been the most positive of all.

The Welshman instantly commanded the No. 1 spot and has played every game for David Wagner’s side, impressing in the vast majority while keeping five clean sheets.

A key part of a promotion challenging side, Ward is clearly enjoying his time in Yorkshire, and has spoken of wanting to use the experience to seal a long-term Anfield future:

“You have to strive and aim to be at the top and hopefully I can get there. You don’t sign for a club to settle for what you’ve got. You’ve always got to try and push yourself to be the best.”


Has the loan been successful so far? A resounding yes, which is extremely pleasing in an era where such moves are increasingly rare. Ward’s loan has been a model example of how it should work with the way it has benefitted all parties.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Ward’s task is to continue performing at the high level he has to develop further and become as polished as possible for his Anfield return. Which brings us to…

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? Yes. It has further proved he is a genuine candidate to feature at Anfield going forward.


 

Ryan Kent (Barnsley)

WIGAN, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 17, 2016: Liverpool's Ryan Kent in action against Wigan Athletic during a pre-season friendly match at the DW Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Appearances: 22
Starts: 20
Sub Apps: 2


Kent’s move to the Championship has also been positive, with the teenager receiving plenty of first-team action.

He’s been an almost permanent part of Paul Heckingbottom’s lineup and though only one goal—a stunner against Rotherham—and an assist would suggest otherwise, he has shown impressive form in patches playing left wing.

Kent is also relishing first-team action at a challenging level, and expressed his gratitude to Barnsley for handing him the platform to impress—as well as his need to improve his “numbers” to repay the faith.

“It’s a lot more physical, more demanding and the players in the league are much tougher. It’s a challenge in my career that I’m relishing,” he said.

“I need to improve in terms of my numbers, an end-product. I feel my performance levels have been good, but there’s nothing much to show for it at the moment.”


Has the loan been successful so far? Yes. Kent has enjoyed consistent game time in preferred positions and has displayed some promising form.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Kent needs to produce the flashes of brilliance with more regularity to elevate his game further, and improving his end-product with goals and assists is the way to do it.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? Yes. His performances have shown he boasts real talent, which Klopp could enjoy fine-tuning.


 

Lloyd Jones (Swindon)

ANFIELD, ENGLAND - Friday, May 2, 2014: Liverpool's captain Lloyd Jones takes a drink during the Under 21 FA Premier League Semi-Final match against Manchester United at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Appearances: 18
Starts: 7
Sub Apps: 1


Joining Swindon was the fourth loan move of Jones’s career, and it has arguably been the most positive.

After early injury disruption he has become a first-choice centre-back, featuring in a back four and three-man defence throughout the season.

His form started indifferently, highlighted by his red card against Oxford, but in more recent months he has become increasingly assured, also managing to score against Bristol Rovers and the Chelsea U23s.


Has the loan been successful so far? Overall, yes. Performances have been shaky at times but Jones will have learned and improved having enjoyed as much game time as injuries have allowed.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Having established himself as first choice, Jones needs to step up his game another level and show that there is more to come.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? No. It was difficult to see Jones having a long-term future at Anfield and this hasn’t changed.


 

Sam Hart (Port Vale)

Appearances: 14
Starts: 12
Sub Apps: 2


The maiden loan spell of Hart’s career has been one of mixed fortunes so far.

He hasn’t fully showcased his capabilities with eight of his sporadic outings coming at left midfield, and only six in his natural left-back slot.

But Hart insisted the experience has benefited him: “I’m a young boy learning the ropes in league football so to be out on loan for a season is really benefiting me as a player. It really gives me a platform to show what I’ve got.”

Positively, Hart netted his first professional goal at Bolton and has provided an assist, while also picking up the first suspension of his career following five yellow cards.


Has the loan been successful so far? Somewhat. Positivity comes in that he’s receiving valuable first-team exposure and learning the pressures of competitive football. But the amount of game time has frustrated, especially that not much has come in his natural position.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Key for Hart is to continue developing as much as possible, and if he can try to impress enough in his outings in midfield, he may earn enough trust to play in his preferred role more regularly.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? Hart’s chances of an Anfield future seem slim, and that hasn’t altered.


 

Ryan Fulton (Chesterfield)

ST HELENS, ENGLAND - Monday, September 28, 2015: Liverpool's goalkeeper Ryan Fulton before the Under 21 FA Premier League match against Leicester City at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Appearances: 23
Starts: 23


While other loans have been more successful, Fulton’s time with Chesterfield has been the most interesting to watch unfold.

He has had a tough time in a struggling team, with his own form less than convincing as he’s shipped 46 goals already, while keeping just two clean sheets.

Fulton’s form has seen him dropped already this season, though this unfairly made him a scapegoat for issues that go way beyond the goalkeeper.


Has the loan been successful so far? No. Fulton may benefit from first-team football and will have learned all about the pressures that come with it. But worry comes over how much he is actually benefitting from being part of such a struggling collective. His loss of form and even confidence is concerning.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Fulton will need the collective around him to help, but trying to produce steadier form is a starting point. If he can do that, then he can hopefully play with more confidence and show his talents.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? Yes, and not for the better.


 

Taiwo Awoniyi (NEC Nijmegen)

Appearances: 11
Starts: 6
Sub Apps: 5


This is the Nigerian’s second loan spell since becoming a Red, and it has been as unimpressive as the first.

Awoniyi has scored only once—though it was dubious—and after manager Peter Hyballa stuck by him earlier this season, his patience has seemingly run out with the striker’s game time dwindling recently.

Awoniyi has largely failed to impress both as a striker and a right winger on occasion, but he has notched four goals for NEC’s reserves as he finds his feet in European football.


Has the loan been successful so far? Stepping up a level to the Eredivisie has been positive, and Awoniyi has also received a fair amount of game time, given his inexperience, which is pleasing.

What’s on the cards for the rest of this season? Awoniyi’s main focus has to be on regaining his place and Hyballa’s trust. He needs to produce an upturn of form, with goals in worryingly short supply again.

Has the loan changed chances of a long-term Liverpool future? No. Awoniyi remains a relatively unknown quantity and it’s hard to see him coming into the Anfield fold any time soon.


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