Jurgen Klopp may have once planned to oversee a pathway to the first team for young Liverpool left-back Yasser Larouci, but now the 19-year-old is on the way out.
Some of the best work of Barry Lewtas‘ time in the academy has come with the transition of Larouci from promising winger to a versatile full-back option.
Developing the Algerian was a personal project for the youth coach, with his wife conducting English lessons with him since his move from Le Havre in 2017 and his performances with the under-18s catching Klopp’s eye.
But while Larouci has been involved with the first team on a regular basis, his only outings for the senior side have come in pre-season and as part of heavy rotation in the FA Cup.
It seemed as though he could be the perfect option to cover for Andy Robertson at left-back, but instead, the teenager has set his sights on a summer exit.
According to widespread reports from the Merseyside press, Larouci and the club have decided a permanent switch is for the best, with talks already ongoing with Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds and Brentford.
Goal‘s Neil Jones writes that Liverpool are “committed to finding a suitable buyer” but will “expect to secure a competitive transfer fee, and are likely to include buy-back and sell-on clauses in any deal.”
The Athletic‘s James Pearce adds that “Leeds are currently unwilling to meet Liverpool’s valuation,” but as the Evening Standard‘s David Lynch notes, with Larouci in the final year of his contract, the Reds may be required to accept a “cut-price fee.”
There are certainly similarities with Larouci’s stance and that taken by Rafa Camacho last summer, before a lucrative £7 million return to Sporting CP was secured.
It is likely that the current climate could see the club’s chances of agreeing on a similar fee drop, with those suitors experiencing a similar situation to Liverpool themselves.
Klopp has frequently stressed that the Reds are unlikely to spend heavily, but with Larouci leaving, there could be pressure to add another left-back to the ranks.
Adam Lewis, despite signing a new contract earlier this week, is expected to head out on loan, and further down the pecking order James Norris is unlikely to be considered ready.
Neco Williams deputised at left-back in the 3-1 win at Brighton, and despite being taken off at half-time having picked up a yellow card, Klopp’s recent comments, saying “Neco is now here,” suggest he could cover both sides.
If so, allowing Larouci to go may not be disastrous, but there is certainly an ongoing theme that Liverpool seem to be leaving themselves short if injuries strike.