Liverpool invested a lot into Taiwo Awoniyi, but his success in the Premier League has only come after he was sold – before he had a chance to debut!
Awoniyi’s move to Merseyside from the Imperial Soccer Academy in 2015 came out of the left-field, but it is testament to the club’s scouting network.
Work permit issues led to seven loans in six years, and the Nigerian eventually took off in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin – after a temporary spell in 2020/21, he was sold to the German club that summer.
The deal went through while Awoniyi was with the Liverpool first team for pre-season in Austria, denying him the debut he had longed for.
After 20 goals in 43 games for Union, the Premier League dream came true with a £17.5 million switch to Nottingham Forest last summer – and he proved crucial to their fight against relegation.
Awoniyi played 30 times for Forest this season, scoring 11 goals and laying on one assist, with six goals in his last four games.
Per FBRef, no player across the Premier League enjoyed a better conversion rate than the 25-year-old, who scored a goal for every 3.5 shots (excluding penalties).
Jadon Sancho (3.5) is the only player to equal Awoniyi’s record, which is higher than the rest of the top five in Roberto Firmino (3.6), Erling Haaland (4.0) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (4.0).
It should be noted, of course, that a groin injury limited the former Liverpool striker’s game time, having only played 1,411 minutes in the league.
But that he was still able to find the back of the net 10 times in 27 league games suggests he could only improve if he is able to maintain his fitness next time out.
Awoniyi scored in eight different Premier League games this season and put Forest 1-0 up in each of those.
According to Opta, that was the most for a newly promoted club since Andy Johnson for Crystal Palace in 2004/05 (nine).
Four of his goals proved to be match-winners, with only seven netting more across the English top flight: Harry Kane (11), Marcus Rashford (10), Haaland (10), Mo Salah (seven), Ivan Toney (six), Kai Havertz (five) and Gabriel Martinelli (five).
That included his goal in the 1-0 win over his former club in October, as well as in the 1-0 victory over Arsenal that secured Forest’s survival.
Liverpool received around £1.5 million of the fee Forest paid Union last summer, due to a sell-on clause agreed upon his £6.5 million switch from Anfield to Berlin.
Overall, it represented a £7.5 million profit upon their initial investment in 2015 – but now Jurgen Klopp and his staff may be wondering whether it was wise to sell after all.