LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 1, 2022: Liverpool's James Balagizi during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Manchester United FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

Liverpool teenager set for Wigan loan after injury-hit season

Liverpool academy midfielder James Balagizi has joined Wigan on a season-long loan deal, also signing a new contract with the Reds.

The youngster has worked his way through Liverpool’s youth ranks and moved to Crawley last summer to gain League Two experience, but was recalled in January to undergo his rehabilitation from injury on Merseyside.

Balagizi underwent successful groin surgery in October, but his progress was derailed further by an undisclosed issue that ended his stay at Crawley prematurely.

The Latics confirmed the loan signing on Wednesday morning, with the England U20 international set to stay at the League One club for the next 12 months.

The news comes alongside an announcement from Liverpool that Balagizi has signed an extension to his contract with the Reds, emphasising that the club still see a future for the 19-year-old beyond his latest loan stint.

Predominantly an attacking midfielder, he returned to full fitness in May following a four-month layoff to feature in a 1-0 victory away at Crystal Palace with the under-21s, replacing Max Woltman with eight minutes of the season-finale left on the clock.

Balagizi’s next move will be one step up from his time at Crawley, with Wigan currently in League One having suffered relegation from the Championship last season.

The teenager is capable of operating in a number of different roles across the middle of the park and was hailed as “excellent” by the Crawley boss when tried in defensive midfield at the start of the campaign.

He can also play in a more offensive role as a No. 10, meaning that his versatility will make his temporary move an interesting one to keep an eye on in terms of where he fits positionally.

Balagizi will be hoping a clean bill of health and some impressive performances will help to get his career back on track after what has undoubtedly been a trying 12 months off the field.

Balagizi is the eighth Liverpool player to head out on loan this summer.