A total of 18 players left Liverpool on loan during the season – but how did they all fare? The ECHO takes a look
It’s likely going to be a busy couple of months for Matt Newberry as Liverpool’s head of academy recruitment gets set to temporarily step into the role of loan and pathways manager this summer.
With current incumbent David Woodfine set to leave the club, Newberry will move into a new position for the summer transfer window and a whole host of promising youngsters have their futures reviewed.
Liverpool loaned as many as 19 out across the last two transfer windows and further movement is anticipated. Here the ECHO looks at how each fared and what could be in the offing for many young hopefuls on the Reds’ books.
Morton had a fine season at Blackburn Rovers in the Championship and was rewarded for his progress in senior football over the last two seasons with a new long-term Liverpool contract in January.
“I’ve known for a little while and it’s been ongoing, and I couldn’t wait to get it over the line because this is the place I want to be and this is the club I want to be at,” said Morton. “I’m absolutely buzzing and I can’t wait for the future.”
Morton spoke regularly with former Blackburn loanee and Liverpool colleague Harvey Elliott during his time at Ewood Park as he attempted to make the most of a short-term switch that saw him make 46 appearances and create four assists. A player who might be given the pre-season to show what he can do under Jurgen Klopp, particularly given the need energetic young midfielders in the squad.
Conor Bradley (Bolton Wanderers)
Northern Ireland international Bradley enjoyed a sensational campaign with Bolton and is expected to be given a chance to show what he can during the pre-season schedule.
“Our plans are, bring him back, go in the pre-season and then enjoy the steps he made, then we will decide together what we are doing from that moment on,” Klopp said in April. “The plans are in the moment, bring him back and keep him, but we will see that.”
Bradley’s adventurous style of play as a right-sided full-back saw him score seven goals across his 53 appearances in all competitions and he was a standout performer at Wembley as Wanderers won the Papa John’s Trophy against Plymouth to lift their piece of silverware for over 30 years.
Given his progress with Bolton and the recently-tweaked system that sees Trent Alexander-Arnold operate more as a midfielder, Bradley could yet be given a chance to show what he can during the next couple of months. It promises to be a huge opportunity for the defender.
Rhys Williams (Blackpool)
Williams spent the first half of last season on loan at Blackpool where he made 17 appearances for a Tangerines side that were ultimately relegated from the Championship.
Liverpool took the decision to recall Williams midway through the campaign as speculation around Nat Phillips’s future continued. The Reds eventually turned down an offer of around £7m for Phillips and Williams stayed put at Anfield for the remainder of the campaign.
Williams’s last Blackpool start came in December for the Seasiders as Marvin Ekpiteta and Jordan Thorniley established themselves as the preferred choice. Another loan outing is likely to be in the offing for the 22-year-old centre-back this summer.
Sepp van den Berg (Schalke)
Van den Berg was part of the Schalke side that were relegated from the Bundesliga after joining on loan in late August immediately after extending his contract with the Reds.
The Dutchman, who joined Liverpool in the summer of 2019, saw his time in Germany heavily impacted by injuries and he was restricted to just nine appearances as a result.
Despite the inactivity, however, Schalke are keen to keep the 21-year-old for another term, with sporting director Andre Hechelmann recently saying: “We are talking to him and his adviser. I see the [Instagram] post more as a thank you from Sepp.”
With Joel Matip and Joe Gomez currently back-up to Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk and with Williams and Phillips also on the books, another loan spell is likely to be on the cards for Van den Berg, whose last senior outing for the Reds came over three years ago against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup at Anfield.
However, given his age and experience of both the Championship and the Bundesliga, Liverpool may yet see their resolve tested with more permanent offers.
Leighton Clarkson (Aberdeen)
Leighton Clarkson enjoyed a successful spell with Aberdeen, making 38 appearances in total while contributing six goals and as many as nine assists.
The midfield schemer could be the subject of permanent interest but Clarkson himself recently suggested there is “a really high possibility” he could stay at Pittodrie.
“I’ve told agents and stuff ‘don’t even tell me about interest’, because I just wanted to get Europe for Aberdeen,” he said. “Now we’ve done that I can start thinking while I’m away on holiday. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. If everything was to be right – and a lot of it is out of my control – it’s a really high possibility that I could be (an Aberdeen player next season).”
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Marcelo Pitaluga (Macclesfield)
The Brazilian goalkeeper joined Macclesfield on loan in July of last year. The newly-promoted side initially said they were “thrilled” to land Pitaluga on a loan deal but he returned to Liverpool in November to undergo treatment on an ankle injury.
After close to five months out, Pitaluga made something of a surprise return to Macclesfield just days after they had secured their status as Northern Premier League Division One West champions.
The goalkeeper played his part in a 5-0 win over City of Liverpool FC, with it understood that Pitaluga was summoned back to play a part of the title-winning celebrations more than anything else following their success.
Pitaluga is another who will be available to loan this summer.
Owen Beck (Bolton)
Left-back Owen Beck joined Bolton Wanderers on a temporary deal at the end of August but saw opportunities limited.
In total he made nine appearances for Bolton before he was sent back to his parent club in January to continue his development in the Academy ranks. His last start came in Wanderers’ successful Papa John’s Trophy campaign when he helped them to the semi-finals shortly before his return to Merseyside.
“The most important thing for Owen is that we don’t hinder his personal development and his progress,” said Bolton boss Ian Evatt.
“We feel it’s the right thing to do by him. It suits both parties but it was very much with Owen’s future in mind. He’s been a pleasure to work with. He’s been a fantastic young man. His attitude is first-class and I know he’ll go on to have a great career in the game.”
Billy Koumetio (Austria Vienna)
Young French defender Koumetio spent the first half of last season on loan at Austria Vienna, where he made 15 appearances in all competitions.
‘Billy the Kid’, as Klopp affectionately refers to him, returned to his parent club in January in a move that helped facilitate Jarell Quansah’s New Year departure to Bristol Rovers.
Under-21 boss Barry Lewtas told the ECHO in January: “There was no real [negative] reason around the decision to bring him back. He had a successful loan out there in terms of the exposure he got and obviously there might be opportunities elsewhere for others in the squad to go on loan. The loans are quite fluid really.”
Luke Chambers (Kilmarnock)
Luke Chambers joined Kilmarnock on loan in January and stayed behind to help the Scottish side in their relegation battle after being called up to the England Under-20 squad for the World Cup in Argentina.
“I love it here and I wouldn’t change that for anything,” said Chambers. “Obviously it’s disappointing to be missing the World Cup, but what Kilmarnock have done for me I couldn’t just walk out on them with three big games to go.
“What the club have done for me since the first day I walked through the door has been great. They’ve been really helpful, I’ve got what I’ve needed from the loan and hopefully with these games coming up we can pick up some points.”
However, the left-back was unable to stop Killie suffering demotion as they were beaten 2-1 at home to Dundee last month to condemn them to second-tier football north of the border. Another loan deal is likely.
James Balagizi (Crawley Town)
Balagizi’s first taste of senior football came at League Two side Crawley Town last season after signing a new contract with the Reds prior to his loan switch.
“My relationship with Kevin (Besty, Crawley boss) is what brought me to the club as he was in my ear and telling me that I should join,” Balagizi said at the time. “However, after he spoke to me, I did some research on the club, and I really liked the project that they are building here.”
“When you’re on loan to a League Two side, when the facilities aren’t the same as Liverpool’s, he’s adapted fantastically,” said Betsy in September. “His relationships with the players, how he communicates, carries himself, working hard every day. These things will put him in good stead to have a good career.”
In total, the midfielder made 16 appearances for Crawley, scoring three times – including a strike that knocked out Fulham in the Carabao Cup – before he was recalled in January following an injury.
Jarell Quansah (Bristol Rovers)
After being personally scouted by manager Joey Barton at the Liverpool Academy, Quansah joined Bristol Rovers in January. An early sending-off, against Portsmouth, was ill-advised but his performances eventually earned him a spot in the England Under-20 squad for the World Cup, where they were knocked out by Italy. last week.
Max Woltman (Doncaster Rovers)
Doncaster Rovers signed striker Max Woltman to a season-long loan deal in early September. He returned in mid-January after 14 appearances. Another loan spell could be in the young striker’s future.
Left-back Adam Lewis joined Newport County last summer but returned to his parent club in February after suffering a season-ending injury. He made 21 appearances before that setback and created four assists.