A player who has barely set foot on the training pitch at Melwood, Liverpool still hold hopes for Taiwo Awoniyi after this season’s loan spell at Mouscron.
Awoniyi joined the Belgian First Division A side for his third consecutive season away from Anfield in July, following campaigns with FSV Frankfurt and NEC Nijmegen.
After a productive run with NEC in the Eredivisie, the Nigerian striker is in the best form of his career with Mouscron.
So far this season he has eight goals and six assists, serving as his side’s leading light in their fight against relegation to the second tier.
Unable to secure a work permit following his £400,000 move to Merseyside in 2015, Awoniyi has become something of a forgotten man among Liverpool supporters.
But according to the Liverpool Echo, in an excellent piece by Neil Jones, the Reds are still planning for the 20-year-old’s future at the club.
Jones reports that Liverpool intend to send Awoniyi out on loan for a fourth time next season, with the aim being the join a side in the Europa League.
This would, they hope, raise the striker’s profile so as to secure a UK work permit, allowing him to join Jurgen Klopp‘s squad in the future.
Furthermore, Jones details how the Reds are monitoring Awoniyi’s progress closely through loan pathways manager Julian Ward, who watched him score in last month’s 5-3 loss to Anderlecht.
Enjoying a breakthrough campaign with Mouscron, Awoniyi has made more appearances (29) than any of Liverpool’s other loanees, with the closest being Pedro Chirivella at Willem II (27).
Game time is central to Awoniyi qualifying for a work permit in the future, along with potential appearances for the Nigeria national team.
He is hoping to feature for the Super Eagles in their friendly clashes with Poland (March 23) and Serbia (March 27) this month in a bid to make Gernot Rohr’s squad for the World Cup.
Doing so would boost his chances of sealing a long-term role at Liverpool in the coming years, but the pitfalls suffered by another youngster in his position, Allan Rodrigues, serve as a warning.
Allan is also currently without a work permit, but last season’s loan move to Hertha Berlin was designed to work towards gaining one.
The Brazilian made just 16 appearances for the Bundesliga side, of which eight were starts, totalling 818 minutes on the pitch, and he is now playing a low-key role for Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol.
The hope will be that both Awoniyi and Allan are able to carve out a place in Klopp’s squad in the future, but despite the club’s best intentions the odds are still stacked against them.