Another season gone, and another season sat on the bench for Sebastian Coates. And, assuming manager Brendan Rodgers brings in the defensive reinforcements he is seeking over the summer, the prospects for the young Uruguayan centre half don't appear any better heading into next year.
It's a situation Rodgers knows the club will have to find a solution to, and it's a situation the player himself has grown increasingly unhappy about. Coates needs minutes to continue his development, and if Liverpool can't give them to him he needs to find them somewhere else. The manager, though, isn't willing to commit to any changes just yet.
"It’s one where we will assess it," said Rodgers. "Seb has been in here and has been a very loyal member of our squad. He has been a great support player for the group. Obviously his chances have been very limited. That’s unfortunately how it is sometimes as a defender.
"As a manager you are very rarely changing the defence. It’s more the midfield and front players. It’s been difficult for him. He got a lot of games at the beginning of the season with the cups but obviously since January it has been hard for him."
Coates was denied a loan move in January, and has spoken of his growing disillusionment at Liverpool—a move that has gone from a dream for the young Uruguayan to something of a footballing nightmare—after arriving as one of South America's brightest prospects only to become an afterthought.
"We will sit down when he comes back for pre-season and we will take it from there," added the manager. "He has been here a few years now. All players want to play, I respect that, but we will see what the summer brings."
That he has now spent two seasons on Liverpool's bench at a stage when he should have been playing to continue the development is an indictment of Liverpool's management. He may not be ready to start for Liverpool, but having won Young Player of the Tournament honours at the Copa America for Uruguay he at the least should be starting somewhere in the hope that one day he can become a player who can.
Instead, since then, Coates has made a mere 17 starts for Liverpool in all competitions. It is really no wonder, then, that when he does on occasion see the pitch he often appears a step off the pace, prone to the occasional mental lapse. The question now is if Liverpool still see any kind of future for him at the club.
With his contract running until the summer of 2016, Liverpool have at least a season to make up their minds, but another year spent sat mostly on the bench will do neither the club nor the player any good and would seem cruelly ruinous to Coates' chances of developing into a top defender. And so in the end, Coates must go.
Rodgers may want to wait until pre-season to assess just where the club stands, to see how things have developed in the transfer market, but if Coates isn't likely to see significant minutes at Liverpool next season—and all signs point to this being the case barring a complete and total failure on said transfer market—the player must be found a new home.
Rodgers' equivocation aside, there seems little doubt of that. The only real question is whether the club will seek out a permanent deal for the 22-year-old defender or look to send him out on loan for a season to somewhere that will give him starters' minutes. That should be the only choice Rodgers makes in a few months. If the question to be decided is anything else, then something will be very wrong.