Taiwo Awoniyi scored his first goal for Mainz when the Bundesliga returned, and despite his lack of game time is hoping Liverpool are impressed with his progress.
The Nigerian signed a new long-term contract with the Reds in 2018, but despite his continued association with the club he is yet to feature in any capacity.
An unfortunate injury ruled him out of a planned stint of pre-season training with the first team last summer, before he embarked on a season-long loan spell with Mainz—his fifth such deal since joining in 2015.
Though he made the switch on the advice of Jurgen Klopp, Awoniyi has struggled for minutes at the Opel Arena, but scored his first goal for the club in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Koln.
That came off the bench, and his 34-minute outing was the third-longest of his seven appearances for Mainz so far, but he believes he has improved on loan nonetheless.
And speaking to Liverpool’s official website, the striker outlined his hopes that he could catch the eye of Jurgen Klopp and his backroom staff ahead of a return to Merseyside at the end of the season.
“Even without playing for a while, coming in on Sunday just really shows I’ve really improved since coming to Germany,” he claimed.
“That’s the goal with being on loan.
“Even when you are not playing, you just have to be ready and keep on improving yourself and wait for your time as well.
“I don’t think I’m the same player as I was in the last few years. I personally have seen improvement in my game and I believe most Liverpool coaches have seen that as well.
“I just have to be prepared to improve myself and work on my weak points as well. When I’m back at LFC, I hope they will see that.”
There is a clear caveat when it comes to any objectives Awoniyi sets out at Anfield, in that he is yet to qualify for a UK work permit.
And as much as his spell with Mainz was designed to develop him as a player, the hope will have also been that he would play enough games—and garner enough international recognition—to grant eligibility.
As it stands, he finds himself in a similar position to Allan Rodrigues, the Brazilian midfielder who joined from Internacional in the same summer of 2015.
Allan spent five seasons out on loan, with SJK, Sint-Truiden, Hertha Berlin, Apollon Limassol, Eintracht Frankfurt and finally Fluminense, only tallying more than 20 appearances with the latter.
Eventually, with his contract due to expire, Liverpool cut their losses and agreed a permanent £3.2 million deal with Atletico Mineiro in January.
This could be the way Awoniyi is heading, but to remain optimistic, perhaps Klopp’s focus on Mainz will see him show enough to prompt a prolonged effort with his Reds career.