In the long list of Liverpool's loanees, a few were bound to put in noteworthy performances across the length of the season. When everything's tallied up in a few months, though, there's little chance any will stand higher than Tiago Ilori's Man of the Match turn against Barcelona on the weekend. In a match Barcelona had to win to keep their title hopes alive in a tight race at the top of La Liga, Ilori was flawless, stifling Lionel Messi and one of the world's best attacks for 90 minutes.
With four starting calibre centre halves on the books at Liverpool, it's been easy at times to forget Ilori exists. Particularly given he spent the first half of the season in the reserves, not able to sniff the first team regularly despite arriving on a fairly hefty fee and with a reputation as an up and coming defensive star. At Liverpool, he made the bench as an unused substitute four times, and, out of sight and mind as he's been, few included him in conversation about the club's defence moving forward.
A Man of the Match Performance shutting down Messi and Barcelona should rather change that, and if he can follow it up with five more strong showings as Granada's season winds down—now solidly mid-table thanks to their most recent victory—he will have forced himself back into the consciousness of Liverpool fans. A starring role at his parent club next season still seems unlikely, but another year on loan and a return once Kolo Toure's contract is up certainly seems more likely today than it did last week.
Elsewhere in Liverpool loanees, Fabio Borini continues to be one of the better players on a terrible Sunderland side set for relegation, while defenders Andre Wisdom, Jack Robinson, and Ryan Mclaughlin continue to feature as key players for Derby, Blackpool, and Barnsley respectively. Conor Coady started for Sheffield United against Hull in the FA Cup Semi-final, losing 5-3 to the Premier League side in the end. In Spain, Suso has returned to the bench for Almeria, who are likely to be relegated.
Video by MrBoywunder