KLOPP’S LAST GAME SOUVENIR

Tyler Morton and Conor Bradley stand out with 17 Liverpool loan players graded

Liverpool began the season with 17 players out on loan, but with a number of those recalled in January, who has impressed and who has struggled?

The loan market has proved useful for Liverpool in recent years, and this time out director of loan management David Woodfine was particularly busy.

A total of 17 players were sent to temporary clubs in the summer transfer window, but having now hit the final week of January, seven of those have been brought back.

But how have those 17 youngsters and fringe players fared? Here we give our verdict.

 

Tyler Morton – Blackburn

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 13, 2022: Blackburn Rovers' Tyler Morton during the Football League Championship match between Burnley FC and Blackburn Rovers FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Like Harvey Elliott, Morton has found his stride with a loan at Blackburn and looks poised to take up a first-team role at Liverpool upon his return.

Though it took time for the 20-year-old to adjust to the physicality of the Championship, he has begun to control games from his role at the base of the midfield – although Rovers fans would appreciate more consistency.

His delivery from set-pieces remains a key feature, having a hand in more goals than his three assists in 30 games suggests.

GRADE: A

 

Owen Beck – Famalicao, Bolton – RECALLED

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2022: Liverpool's Owen Beck during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It has been a disaster of a campaign for Beck on the pitch, though it could amount to a valuable learning experience for the standout player from Liverpool’s academy last season.

A spell at Famalicao in Portugal was cut short after 46 days, and five months later the club then recalled him from a stint at Bolton that saw him play only nine times.

There were flashes of his quality in those outings, but Beck himself admitted the adjustment was difficult.

GRADE: E

 

Leighton Clarkson – Aberdeen

2M8X00K Glasgow, Scotland, UK. 15th January 2023; Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland: Scottish Viaplay Cup Football Semi Final, Rangers versus Aberdeen; Leighton Clarkson of Aberdeen Credit: Action Plus Sports Images/Alamy Live News

Clarkson has been one of the real sparks in a turbulent season for Aberdeen, and in 22 games so far the midfielder has scored five goals and laid on two assists.

Operating in a variety of roles, the 21-year-old has relished the challenge of life in Scotland.

More could be asked of him in terms of his overall influence, but this loan spell is significantly improved on an aborted stint at Blackburn last time around.

GRADE: B

 

Rhys Williams – Blackpool – RECALLED

2JJCXF3 Blackpool's Rhys Williams during a pre-season friendly match at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool. Picture date: Sunday July 24, 2022.

Williams began the season as a first-choice starter for Blackpool, but fell out of favour following an untimely shin injury in October.

As his club struggled for results, the centre-back only found himself filling in when suspensions and injuries to other starters called for it, and he was recalled by Liverpool on January 23.

He will instead serve as fifth choice at Anfield, depriving him of a chance under new Blackpool manager Mick McCarthy.

GRADE: C

 

Conor Bradley – Bolton

2M2467K Conor Bradley #21 of Bolton Wanderers crosses the ball during the Papa John's Trophy match Bolton Wanderers vs Manchester United U21 at University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, United Kingdom, 13th December 2022 (Photo by Phil Bryan/News Images)

Along with Morton, the bona fide star of Liverpool’s loan cohort this season.

Bradley has thrived in Ian Evatt’s Bolton side where Beck could not, with many supporters of the League One outfit convinced he is already playing for a club below his station.

Deployed as a right wing-back, the 19-year-old has already played 34 times, with six goals and six assists to his name so far.

GRADE: A

 

Billy Koumetio – Austria Wien – RECALLED

2JRPE8B August 25, 2022, Istanbul, Warsaw, Turkey: Billy Koumetio of Austria Wien during the UEFA Europa League Play-Off second leg match between Fenerbahce and Austria Wien at Ulker Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on August 25, 2022. ( Photo by Seskimphoto ) .LIGA EUROPY UEFA PILKA NOZNA SEZON 2022/2023.FOT. SESKIMPHOTO/NEWSPIX.PL.POLAND, TURKEY, GERMANY, AUSTRIA AND UK OUT !!!.---.Newspix.pl *** Local Caption *** www.newspix.pl .mail us: info@newspix.pl.call us: 0048 022 23 22 222.---.Polish Picture Agency by Ringier Axel Springer Poland (Credit Image: © Seskimphoto/Newspix via ZUMA Press)

For a player who was at one stage on the cusp of the first team at Liverpool, Koumetio’s promising move to Austria Wien proved a major disappointment.

The Frenchman only played 11 games for the Austrian club, with red tape forcing him out of the first-team picture, leading to his return to Merseyside on January 5.

GRADE: D

 

Marcelo Pitaluga – Macclesfield

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, 20 February, 2022: Liverpool’s goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga runs out for the second-half during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23’s and Blackburn Rovers FC Under-23’s at the Liverpool Academy. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

A move to non-league may have left some scratching their heads, but a spell with Macclesfield has been formative for Pitaluga as he settles into men’s football.

Prior to an ankle ligament injury that has likely ended his time with the club – with a move higher up the pyramid mooted – the 20-year-old kept 11 clean sheets in 23 games.

GRADE: A

 

Vitezslav Jaros – Stockport

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Liverpool’s goalkeeper Jaros Vitezslav during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A strong, capable goalkeeper with experience at St Patrick’s Athletic and Notts County under his belt, Jaros made a bright start with League Two side Stockport only for injury to derail his progress.

Now back after two-and-a-half months out, the Czech has lost his starting spot and could be considered for a recall before the deadline.

GRADE: C

 

Jakub Ojrzynski – Radomiak Radom – RECALLED

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 22, 2020: Liverpool's goalkeeper Jakub Ojrzynski during the Under-18 FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Stoke City FC at the Liverpool Academy. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There may have been other circumstances behind Ojrzynski’s brief return to Poland, but there would unlikely have been promises of the No. 1 shirt when he joined Radomiak.

The 19-year-old only played three times for the senior side before returning to Liverpool in mid-January, taking part in first-team sessions at the AXA Training Centre.

GRADE: E

 

Adam Lewis – Newport County

2KDWBE1 Newport County's Adam Lewis applauds the fans after the Carabao Cup third round match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Picture date: Tuesday November 8, 2022.

One of two 23-year-olds Liverpool sent out on loan, left-back Lewis has been given the opportunity to prove himself in League Two ahead of an expected summer exit.

It has gone well for the Scouser so far, and though he has not been in remarkable form for Newport County he has become a reliable starter for Graham Coughlan, typically as a wing-back.

GRADE: B

 

James Balagizi – Crawley Town – RECALLED

2JRCDK4 Crawley Town's James Balagizi celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Carabao Cup second round match at Broadfield Stadium, Crawley. Picture date: Tuesday 23rd August, 2022.

There will be mixed emotions for Balagizi, who hit impressive heights with goals against Fulham and Northampton as he carved out a key midfield role, but also endured the instability of life at Crawley Town.

The 19-year-old had four managers in his six-and-a-half months at the club, with injury prompting Liverpool to cut the cord in January.

GRADE: B

 

Anderson Arroyo – Alaves

KAA Gent's new player Anderson Arroyo Cordoba pictured in action during a training session of Belgian soccer team KAA Gent, during the 2018-2019 Jupiler Pro League season, Friday 07 September 2018, in Gent. BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

There is, by now, no chance Colombian defender Arroyo features for Liverpool, despite signing an extension to his contract upon heading to Alaves in July.

Now 23, he has struggled to hold down a starting role in the Spanish second tier, despite being an option at centre-back, left-back and right-back.

GRADE: D

 

Sepp van den Berg – Schalke

2K0PA8H Gelsenkirchen, Germany. 10th Sep, 2022. Soccer: Bundesliga, FC Schalke 04 - VfL Bochum, Matchday 6, Veltins Arena: Schalke's Sepp van den Berg gives instructions. Credit: David Inderlied/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the requirements of the DFL Deutsche FuBball Liga and the DFB Deutscher FuBball-Bund, it is prohibited to use or have used photographs taken in the stadium and/or of the match in the form of sequence pictures and/or video-like photo series./dpa/Alamy Live News

Van den Berg only played four times for Schalke before a serious ankle injury ruled him out until after the Bundesliga’s winter break.

He did catch the eye in those games, though, and is likely to reclaim his place in the lineup when he makes a full recovery in the near future.

GRADE: C

 

Max Woltman – Doncaster Rovers – RECALLED

SALFORD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 30, 2022: Liverpool's Max Woltman (L) and goalkeeper Harvey Davies during the English Football League Trophy Northern Group D match between Salford City FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Moor Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arriving at Doncaster with the campaign already underway, Woltman had the odds stacked against him as he made the sizeable step from academy football to League Two.

He played 14 times in total, and despite a handful of positive cameos he was recalled in January having failed to either score or assist.

GRADE: D

 

Fidel O’Rourke – Caernarfon Town – RECALLED

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, April 23, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Fidel O'Rourke retrieves balls during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Tottenham Hotspur FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Tottenham Hotspur won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

O’Rourke’s return to Liverpool midway through a productive loan with Caernarfon Town in Wales may have come as a disappointment given his goalscoring form.

But it gave the 20-year-old a taste of men’s football and showed he can overcome the physical challenges that are likely to come with his next move – either on loan or permanently.

GRADE: B

 

Jack Bearne – Kidderminster

ROCHDALE, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 31, 2021: Liverpool's Jack Bearne during the English Football League Trophy match between Rochdale AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Spotland Stadium. Rochdale won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Bearne admitted it was a “bit frustrating” to see his start to life with non-league Kidderminster Harriers blighted by injury.

But now fit and making himself a regular at Aggborough, the 21-year-old is becoming a firm favourite with his incisive attacking play.

GRADE: B

 

Paul Glatzel – Tranmere

Paul Glatzel (Image: Richard Ault / Tranmere Rovers)

Glatzel arrived for his second season with Tranmere still feeling the effects of the injury that ended his previous campaign early, and upon his return to the side he then suffered a serious setback.

A sad turn of events for a player who will be given the support he needs by both clubs.

GRADE: N/A