Ben Woodburn is due to depart Liverpool on the expiry of his contract this summer, with the long-serving midfielder attracting interest from Scotland.
For a brief spell last summer, there seemed a slim chance Woodburn could, in fact, force his way into Jurgen Klopp‘s squad for 2021/22.
Having impressed throughout pre-season, featuring in four games and playing a variety of roles, his value as a versatile, homegrown player was particularly interesting.
That never transpired, however, with Woodburn instead joining Hearts on a season-long loan in August, thwarting interest from clubs in the Championship as well as Greece, Denmark and Croatia.
It was the Welsh midfielder’s fourth loan in as many seasons and, having run into the final year of his contract, effectively signalled the end of his time with Liverpool.
Woodburn made 30 appearances for Hearts throughout the campaign, scoring three goals and laying on two assists, helping the Edinburgh club reach the Scottish Cup final.
And though his starts decreased in the final months of his loan, the 22-year-old seems to have impressed enough to spark interest in a permanent deal.
The Liverpool Echo report that Hearts “want to offer” Woodburn a long-term contract, with the player himself “open to making the move.”
It could be a smart decision from Woodburn, who has spent the last 15 years with Liverpool but no longer has a future with the club.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson clearly admires his talents, and if they work together for an extended time it could prove to be a fruitful relationship for a player who, despite debuting for the Reds in 2016, still has a long career ahead of him.
His record of 30 appearances for Hearts this season is the most Woodburn has made for any club so far, with 16 outings for Oxford United, 11 for Liverpool, 11 for Blackpool and eight for Sheffield United.
Though he was in the Wales squad for the September international break and played 17 minutes in a friendly draw with Finland, his last start for his country came in March 2019.
Woodburn became Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer when he netted against Leeds in the 2-0 League Cup victory in 2016, breaking Michael Owen’s record by over three months.