In-form striker’s next step to securing Liverpool future continues to elude him

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Taiwo Awoniyi faces a series of hurdles to put him in contention for a long-term future at Liverpool, and despite his sensational form one continues to thwart him.

It is fair to say Awoniyi’s chances to establishing himself on Merseyside have been bleak since he made the £400,000 move from the Imperial Soccer Academy in 2015.

Not immediately eligible for a UK work permit, the Nigerian has been loaned out to FSV Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen, Royal Excel Mouscron, KAA Gent and back to Mouscron over the past four seasons.

Needing to play regular first-team football, ideally in the Champions League or Europa League, as well as being a fixture on the international stage, to qualify, Awoniyi’s hopes have been slim.

While his half-season spell with Gent was a troubled one, the striker did sign a new long-term contract with Liverpool before departing last summer.

And now he has returned to Mouscron for the remainder of the campaign, the form that has seen him scored six and assist two in seven games so far in the Belgian First Division A has sparked renewed hopes for his future.

Awoniyi was widely tipped to be named in the latest Nigeria squad for the March international break, which would have pushed him closer towards eligibility in the eyes of the UK Home Office.

But this has now been quashed as the 21-year-old failed to make Gernot Rohr’s 23-man squad to take on the Seychelles and Egypt later this month:

Instead, Rohr opted to call up uncapped FC Midtjylland striker Paul Onuachu, who himself has netted 17 times in 29 games this season, assisting five, which highlights the competition Awoniyi faces.

Ex-Leicester striker Ahmed Musa, former Watford man Odion Ighalo and RSC Charleroi’s Wolfsburg loanee Victor Osimhen are also included, with Rohr enjoying considerable depth up front.

Mouscron's Taiwo Awoniyi celebrates after scoring during a soccer game between Standard de Liege and Royal Excel Mouscron, Saturday 02 March 2019 in Liege, on the 28th day of the 'Jupiler Pro League' Belgian soccer championship season 2018-2019. BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY

If Awoniyi is to carve himself a future at Anfield, however unlikely, he will need to break into this group of centre-forwards.

Keeping up his strong performances with Mouscron can only aid this, as so far his output at Stade Le Canonnier has been impeccable.

So far this month, Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino have all been named in the Brazil squad for the international break, while Sadio Mane is part of the Senegal group, but Mohamed Salah was omitted by Egypt.

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