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On-Loan: Coady and Adorjan Cutting Away

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With their futures way up in the air, the performances that Conor Coady and Krisztian Adorjan put up while away on loan this season are vital for their futures.

Julian Finney

Not every loan away is going to be for a budding starlet who just needs one more step before being ready for a role in the first team squad. Sometimes players go on loan at a lower level just to prove they deserve that loan, and to some extent that seems to be exactly where Conor Coady and Krisztian Adorjan find themselves now.

Coady, who joined League One's Sheffield United in July and just had his loan re-upped, was once one of the Liverpool Academy's brightest starlets, a local boy on the verge of making good. Despite featuring frequently for various England youth teams, including wearing the captain's armband on several occasions, Coady's development seemed to stall just shy of the "on the edge of the first team" stage. He did finally receive a few first-team appearances last year, but didn't exactly light the world on fire when he was called on.

Now 21, Coady has reached something of a do-or die stage of his career, and Liverpool decided last summer to let him do it on loan where he could play as often as possible instead of toiling in the stop-and-start reserve league. Sheffield United took him on, and he quickly became an important part of the League One outfit's setup. Even the firing of David Weir as manager didn't slow Coady down, as he quickly established himself well with former Derby County manager Nigel Clough when he was brought in. In total, he's featured in 23 out of a possible 30 league matches, and played in all seven domestic cup matches Sheffield have played so far, including big wins over Aston Villa and Fulham.

Unfortunately, League One has been a rough go for the Blades this season. They currently sit at the halfway mark in their league table at 12th, but are just six points clear of the relegation zone and carry a -5 goal differential. Generally lining up as the more defensive midfielder in the central pairing of a 4-4-2, Coady has at times struggled in his containment duties going back, and his technical skill limitations show up at times even in a lower level of play. Still, on a whole he's been one of Sheffield's more important players this season, and going through a relegation fight will be good experience.

Sadly, it doesn't look likely that Coady has much of a future at Anfield. It's looking more and more like he just doesn't have the skills needed to make it as a Premier League player, much less for a club aimed at being a title challenger, and that League One and the Championship are the better fits for him in the long run. It may seem a little harsh to say that at his age, but it's better to find out early and enjoy as much successful playing time as possible rather than struggle around a first team you don't have a chance at actually being a significant part of for years.

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Krisztian Adorjan joined Dutch side FC Groningen in July hoping to find some kind of form after mostly middling performances with Liverpool's reserves for the last two years. The 21 year old Hungarian attacker was considered one of the upcoming stars of his country when he showed up at Anfield from MTK Budapest in 2009, but so far has shown very little for all that heraldry.

Adorjan's time in Holland has been something of a mixed bag. He's been a regular starter for Groningen, at first on the right wing and lately as an attacking midfielder behind the striker, but his form has run very hot-and-cold. Frankly, he's been more cold than hot, and has almost always been the first man pulled for a substitution. In fact, he's gone a full 90 just once this season, and that was wayyyy back in September. He also missed two matches in September on suspension after a flagrant elbow to the face of a defender that saw him get sent off against Go Ahead.

As to Adorjan's play on the pitch, his three goals and one assist aren't overwhelming totals in an offense-friendly league like the Eredivise, and his underlying stats aren't that impressive either. According to Squawka, he's completed 80% of his passes on the season, had poor defensive numbers, has only put a little over half of his shots on-frame, and (if you're in to this sort of thing), has created just ten chances in his 15 league matches.

Those numbers gel pretty well with the chances I've had to watch Adorjan this year. His workrate has been pretty mediocre, and his disappears for long stretches of matches. On a whole, he's been a bang-average player in the Eredivise, which doesn't indicate a promising future for higher levels. Like Coady, his future would be best served finding another home where he can play on a regular basis, which doesn't seem like it's going to be anywhere in the Premier League based on the available evidence.