LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 25, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Leighton Clarkson during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. Atalanta won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Midfielder admits first-team silence was “when he knew” to leave Liverpool

Leighton Clarkson left Liverpool after 15 years this summer, and he explained that a lack of contact from the first team convinced him to go.

Having progressed through the academy to the fringes of Jurgen Klopp‘s senior squad, Clarkson made the decision to move on earlier this month.

The 21-year-old has joined Aberdeen for an undisclosed fee, after spending the previous campaign on loan at Pittrodie, with six goals and nine assists in 38 appearances.

It will have been a difficult decision for the young midfielder, particularly with Liverpool ready to offer him a new contract.

But speaking to The Athletic, he explained that silence from the first-team squad while he was away on loan was “when he knew” he should leave.

“Since I came up to Aberdeen, I didn’t really hear much from any of them,” Clarkson revealed.

“And that’s when I knew I maybe needed to move on.”

Blackburn Rovers Leighton Clarkson

His initial switch to Aberdeen a year ago came after a frustrating campaign that began with a loan to boyhood club Blackburn and ended back with the Liverpool under-21s.

He had made only seven appearances for Blackburn before the deal was terminated early, though he was disappointed not to be integrated back into Klopp’s first team.

Asked whether he felt his failed stint at Ewood Park altered perceptions of him at his parent club, the answer was “maybe.”

“When you’re training with the best players in the world, it will become normal,” Clarkson added.

“So I wanted to go and play professional football.

“If I had done well at Blackburn, I would have gone back and trained with the first team and god knows where I’d be now.

“But that loan and not playing put doubt in everyone’s head.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 15, 2022: Liverpool's Leighton Clarkson during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Everton FC Under-23's, the Mini-Merseyside Derby, at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I had a contract I could have signed [at Liverpool] but I just felt like it was time to move on and go somewhere else and start putting my name out there, rather than going on loan every time.

“I’d rather be somewhere where I’m playing week in, week out.”

Clarkson certainly has that opportunity now, as he stands to establish himself as a key player for Barry Robson at Aberdeen, choosing to join the Dons despite other suitors “offering more money.”

It is disappointing, in a way, to hear of so few Liverpool players checking in on Clarkson while out on loan, given he had trained regularly with them in recent years.

But that is, of course, not their job.

And it could be argued that reminders of Anfield would have seen complacency set in for a player who was never guaranteed a place upon his return.