With Ibrahima Konate poised to join Liverpool this summer, Rhys Williams is expected to depart the club on loan after making strong progress as an emergency option.
Prior to this season, Williams was not even considered as a possibility at first-team level, having spent the previous campaign with non-league Kidderminster Harriers.
But the 20-year-old played a crucial part in the run-in, starting the final five games alongside Nat Phillips to help secure five victories and a third-place finish.
Overall, Williams featured 19 times for the senior side in 2020/21, including 10 starts across the Premier League and Champions League, with clean sheets kept against Midjtylland, Atalanta, Southampton, Burnley and Crystal Palace.
There were clear flaws in his game, but the youngster applied himself impressively and deserves praise for stepping up when Liverpool needed him.
Next season should be different, though, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip due to return from injury and the club set to confirm Konate’s £34 million switch from RB Leipzig in the coming weeks.
Ozan Kabak will rejoin Schalke following the end of his loan, while a decision will be made over whether Phillips should stay as part of the first team.
According to Goal‘s Neil Jones, though, Williams is “likely to be loaned out” in order to “further his development.”
That will probably come in the Championship, though there is potential for lower-level Premier League clubs to register their interest, with the centre-back having already gained experience in the top flight.
If he were to leave on loan, it remains to be seen whether Williams would return as a long-term option under Klopp, but he certainly gained the respect of his manager during an unexpected rise.
“How they played is absolutely incredible,” he said of Williams and Phillips after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Palace.
“The steps they made this year, they should be very proud because it’s an absolutely different level now, I have to say. That’s really nice to be a part of that.”
Liverpool have already received enquiries over at least two players, with Sepp van den Berg wanted by a host of clubs including Preston, while Southampton hope to retain the services of Takumi Minamino.