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Liverpool receive loan interest for Ben Woodburn – other deals could prompt stay

Despite featuring in Liverpool’s matchday squad for the Premier League opener, Ben Woodburn could still leave the club after receiving loan interest from Scotland.

The Reds marked the start of the campaign with a 3-0 victory at Carrow Road, in a season that sees clubs permitted to name nine substitutes again.

Woodburn was among those in reserve on Saturday evening, with the 21-year-old following up an impressive pre-season that earned praise from Jurgen Klopp and his assistant Pepijn Lijnders.

Lijnders insisted that “he has an Anfield future,” having also made a surprise return to the bench for three of the last five games in last season’s Premier League.

However, with Curtis Jones, Jordan Henderson and Thiago all available for the visit of Burnley, joining Fabinho, Naby Keita, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott as midfield options, Woodburn could find his opportunities limited.

With a year left on his contract, the versatile academy graduate could head out on another loan, with Goal‘s Neil Jones reporting that Scottish club Hearts “lead the race.”

Clubs in Greece, Denmark, Croatia and the Championship are also interested, claim The Athletic, who describe Liverpool as “reluctant” to part ways with their No. 58 unless a “serious offer” is presented.

It is questionable whether a loan would be seen as “serious” unless Woodburn were to extend his contract before heading out, given he would be able to then leave on a free transfer next summer if not.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Ben Woodburn during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is certainly a cause to argue that the Welshman should stay as part of Klopp’s squad, at least for the first half of the season, given his value on and off the pitch.

Woodburn qualifies as a homegrown player which, upon Ben Davies‘ loan switch to Sheffield United, is particularly important as there are only nine options remaining for eight slots – with three of those potentially set to leave.

Nat Phillips and Sheyi Ojo are also subject to speculation over their futures, and if they leave along with Woodburn, the Reds would either need to make another homegrown-eligible signing or sacrifice a non-homegrown slot in the Premier League squad.

This is a difficult process for Klopp and Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards to consider, but the career of their young players will be paramount.

Woodburn has struggled to kick on since becoming the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer in 2016, with loan spells at Sheffield United, Oxford United and Blackpool stalling his progress.

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