Charting the fortunes of the 12 academy players to leave Liverpool last summer

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Twelve academy players left Liverpool last summer, including a £7 million sale and a messy divorce, but their fortunes since leaving the club vary significantly.

The end of a season typically brings the publication of released and retained lists, and many of those included are from the Reds’ academy ranks.

Ten were eventually released last summer, while two more departed after pushing for the exit, with nine heading for Europe and only two staying in England.

Four had already featured for the first team, whether in a competitive game or a friendly, while most had trained as part of Jurgen Klopp‘s senior squad, preparing them for life elsewhere.

So how are those who moved on in 2019 faring this season?

 

Familiar Faces

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 5, 2018: Liverpool's substitutes Rafael Camacho (L) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' before the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One of the most high-profile youngsters to leave Liverpool last summer was Rafa Camacho, having opted to join Sporting CP in a £7 million deal after two appearances for the first team.

It was a questionable decision at the time, with Klopp explaining prior to his move that he had reached the “next level” on Merseyside, but now it is paying off for the Portuguese.

Camacho has been in the matchday squad for his hometown club since the start of the campaign, but in November made his first start for the senior side, in a 2-0 win over Belenenses SAD.

Since then, he has made seven further starts to bring his total to 20 appearances, scoring once and assisting once and, importantly, doing so in his favoured attacking role.

Though he may have received opportunities at Liverpool this season—as the likes of Curtis Jones and Neco Williams have shown—he appears to have sped up his pathway to first-team football at Sporting.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA - Sunday, July 21, 2019: Liverpool's Bobby Duncan during the pre-match warm-up before a friendly against Sevilla FC at Fenway Park on day six of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It has not turned out that way, however, for Bobby Duncan, whose drastic measures in pushing through a move from Liverpool have proved costly.

Instead of taking up a role in the Fiorentina first team, he has remained with their under-19s, and in a turbulent period around the turn of the year it transpired that the Italian club were considering severing ties.

“He thought he would play immediately with Fiorentina,” sporting director Daniele Prade said, “but it is not easy for a boy to impose himself with the grown-ups.”

Duncan has remained with Fiorentina, and assisted in the U19s’ 2-1 win over Napoli before football’s suspension, but he would likely have played first-team football for Liverpool on a number of occasions this season had he stayed.

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Monday, March 13, 2017: Liverpool's Connor Randall and Chelsea's Isaac Christie-Davies during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A different situation presented itself for Connor Randall last summer, with the long-serving right-back out of contract and in need of a change of scenery.

After 18 years on the books at Anfield, Randall made a left-field move to Arda Kardzhali in the Bulgarian top flight in September, where he has enjoyed a regular starting role.

Speaking to Planet Football in January, the 24-year-old explained that getting to grips with the culture in Bulgaria was “all part of the challenge,” and that leaving his “comfort zone” was the right decision for his career.

So far he has made 10 league appearances for Arda, typically in his natural role as a right-back, but also at times at centre-back.

 

High-Profile Hopefuls

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Friday, August 24, 2018: Liverpool's Bobby Adekanye during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Two youngsters to also leave on the expiry of their terms last summer were Bobby Adekanye and Edvard Tagseth, with the duo moving on to top-tier clubs in Europe.

Adekanye’s representatives were said to have “frustrated” Liverpool with their conduct during talks over a possible extension, and the Dutchman joined his fifth club at the age of 20.

His latest switch took him to Lazio, where he joined the likes of Lucas Leiva and Luis Alberto, and he has been a staple of their squad since.

With Lazio challenging for the Serie A title, it is little surprise Adekanye has made just three substitute appearances in the league, but he has been named in the matchday 18 in all but four games.

The youngster registered his first assist for the club in a 1-0 win over Cluj in the Europa League in November, teeing up strike partner Joaquin Correa, while in February he scored his maiden goal in a 5-1 thrashing of SPAL.

For a player who had little chance of a breakthrough at Liverpool, joining Lazio has proved a masterstroke for Adekanye, who can hope to continue his progress under Simone Inzaghi in the future.

Tagseth, meanwhile, was one of the most exciting prospects at Kirkby during his two years at the club, but turned down the offer of a professional contract with his father claiming he had been “overtrained,” with injuries curtailing his development.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Tuesday, September 26, 2017: Liverpool's Edvard Sandvik Tagseth lines-up before the UEFA Youth League Group E match between Liverpool and Spartak Moscow FC at the Spartak Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a drawn-out process weighing up his next move, Tagseth chose to join Rosenborg BK in his native Norway—at the time Eliteserien champions, with a squad including Nicklas Bendtner.

Bendtner has since moved on, and Rosenborg relinquished their title to Molde, with Tagseth making a sole appearance in the league in the 2019 campaign—interestingly, coming at left-back, having emerged as a box-to-box midfielder.

That was in a 2-1 loss to FK Haugesund in October, while in this season’s Europa League he made two further outings with one start—that being 45 minutes in midfield, in a 1-1 draw with PSV Eindhoven in December.

The new Eliteserien campaign is yet to begin, having been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Tagseth will be hoping for more experience when the season gets underway.

 

Academy Staples

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's George Johnston during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Seven other academy talents left Liverpool last summer to contrasting fortunes.

George Johnston made the surprise move to Feyenoord in the Eredivisie, with the Reds securing a €300,000 deal and a 30 percent sell-on clause.

The centre-back is yet to feature for the first team in Rotterdam, but has been a regular in their matchday squad—as an unused substitute for 19 league games—as well as being a fixture in their under-21s side.

His fellow defender Conor Masterson has enjoyed more senior experience at QPR, with eight appearances for the Championship side, including five consecutive starts over January and February.

Corey Whelan made the surprise move to Phoenix Rising in the American second tier, and after a brief loan spell with FC Tucson was a regular with the Arizona side last season, assisting in a 4-1 win over LA Galaxy II in September.

Ben Williams also ended his long association with the Reds to head to the United States, with the goalkeeper enrolling at the William Carey University in Mississippi and turning out for their side the Crusaders.

There, however, he has been kept out of the side by first-choice stopper Jose Domingo.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Friday, August 25, 2017: Liverpool's Glen McAuley during an Under-18 FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Irish striker Glen McAuley made the move to St. Patricks last summer, and after scoring twice in 10 games towards the end of the 2019 campaign headed to Bohemians, where he began the season as first choice.

Juanma, formerly of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, joined Vorskla Poltava in Ukraine, but is yet to make an appearance for the club.

And finally, Patrik Raitanen ended a short spell with the Reds to arrive at Fortuna Sittard in the Dutch top flight, and the Finnish centre-back has so far played twice for the first team, including in a 4-2 win over Feyenoord in October.

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