Liverpool striker Taiwo Awoniyi has hit an excellent run of form on loan with Union Berlin in the Bundesliga, scoring five and assisting two in his last eight games.
Despite joining the Reds back in 2015, Awoniyi is yet to even feature for the club in a friendly game, with the Nigerian unable to reside in the UK due to work permit issues.
Instead, he has remained out on loan since arriving from the Imperial Soccer Academy, with spells in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium over six different clubs.
Currently with Union Berlin, as part of their second season in the Bundesliga, Awoniyi is arguably in his best form yet, capitalising on injuries to stake a claim for a first-choice role in the capital.
Prior to the 2-1 win at Koln on November 22, he had not made consecutive starts for the club, but now the striker has started in the last eight games, rewarding the faith of his manager, Urs Fischer.
A goal against Koln was followed by an assist in a 3-3 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, and having drawn a blank in a famous 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich – even then going close to beating Manuel Neuer – he was back on the scoresheet against Stuttgart.
His strike against Stuttgart was the first in a run of three consecutive goals in the Bundesliga, following that with efforts against Dortmund and Werder Bremen, also assisting a goal for Sheraldo Becker in the latter.
The 3-2 loss to Paderborn in the DFB-Pokal saw Awoniyi fail to fire, but a rate of five goals and two assists in the last eight games has led the 23-year-old to become a firm favourite in Berlin.
While his finishing may, at times, not be the cleanest, he is still managing to beat the ‘keeper by any means necessary, and his linkup play leading the line is improving by the game.
“For me it’s always about the team,” Awoniyi told the Bundesliga’s official website.
“Always fighting, working, doing everything for the team. And for a striker, I believe once you put that first, the rest of the things will come.”
In the absence of Anthony Ujah, Max Kruse and Joel Pohjanpalo, Awoniyi has been a central figure for Union, and on their return it would be no surprise to see the Liverpool loanee incorporated into the first-choice XI.
How this impacts his future on Merseyside remains to be seen, but though regular game time in the Bundesliga – plus the prospect of a callup by Nigeria – boosts his chances of securing a work permit, it is likely that this summer will be his last as a Liverpool player.
These goals will, therefore, not only increase his value but also the level of interest in his services, and having also made his mark at Mainz towards the end of last season, it could be that his permanent home is in Germany.
After 14 games, Union sit fifth in the table, which suggests that a long-term stay in Berlin could be an ideal one for Awoniyi.