There's one player on Liverpool's books out on loan who captures this writer's imagination: João Teixeira. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder is on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion and has had an interesting season of development where he has played under two managers, been involved with a struggling side, and experienced regular senior football for the first time in his career. The right-footer has stood out even if a back injury stole a season of vital development time and could succeed where Suso failed. In an interview with The Guardian, the talented playmaker shared his thoughts on his time at Brighton so far with the season coming to an end and his future at Liverpool.
Looking at Liverpool's senior squad, there isn't a player who offers similar qualities to the creative maestro Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian's close control in tight spaces, dribbling abilities, through ball proficiency, doggedness out of possession, and inventive spirit is unmatched. João Teixeira has displayed similar gifts this season in the Championship for a side in the lower reaches of the division, not an easy task. Adam Lallana is more of a rounded player than a playmaker, while Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe (a fine example of using a Championship loan to gain a place in Liverpool's squad), and Lazar Marković are all young players with technique as well as speed. None offer the vision Teixeira or Coutinho.
When Brendan Rodgers assesses how to strengthen his options for next season, Teixeira could be the understudy needed to relieve Coutinho from his task in unlocking defences. Perhaps the Portugal under-21 international could join Liverpool's number ten on the field, if the situation requires an extra schemer to find a breakthrough, as he did as a substitute against Fulham in the 3-2 away win last season in the race for the Premier League title. That was his only appearance in Liverpool red and those impressive eight minutes (plus added time) as a replacement for Raheem Sterling are still lodged in the memory of many Liverpool fans; the kid's got talent.
"I enjoyed it as much as I could, it was great," Teixeira recalled. "It was my debut in the Premier League, which is something you dream of, and it went well and we won the game, so I was very happy. Very satisfied."
Teixeira can also be satisfied with a league campaign that has yielded six goals and three assists in 2052 minutes across 25 starts and 5 substitute appearances. He features highly among the Championship's top dribblers and his ball-carrying abilities could be useful next season as a member of the first-team squad. The loan at Brentford last season wasn't as fruitful for the youngster, but he shared the lesson gathered from his time in England's second-tier this season.
"I have a lot of trust in myself, in my capacity, so I always thought I could do well in the Championship," affirmed one of Liverpool's few successful loanees this season. "The formation has become different [since Hughton replaced Hyypia] but what both managers asked me to do is very similar - to play behind the striker, look for space, assist, pass, get in the box and score goals. Overall to be creative, which is what I like to do."
"I've always played in winning teams, when I was at Sporting and at Liverpool as well," Teixeira continued. "This has been a different mentality; we have to fight to survive. It's a different experience but a good on as well. It's good to see both sides. [Hyypia's departure] was a really fast thing. One day he was here, the next day I never saw him again. It was sad to see him leave but these things happen in football. As a player you just have to deal with it and carry on working hard. That is what I kept doing and thankfully when the new manager came in he liked me. I have kept playing. It's been a good experience."
There has been a dip in form since two excellent performances in late February, and Teixeira hasn't scored or assisted in seven appearances since shining against Birmingham City and Leeds United. That will be something for him to work on but those creative types always suffer some dips in providing inspiration on the field, such is the burden they carry. However, not many of Liverpool's players out on loan will get a real chance to prove themselves in pre-season. After the season Teixeira has had, he will be among the few who will be afforded a chance to show what he can do by Brendan Rodgers and the loan star is looking forward to a potentially exciting future for club and country.
"I need to finish the season here and then I'll go to Liverpool on 2 May," he said. "I will be there for two more weeks and train so I can keep fit for the Euros. I will also have time to speak to the manager about my future. I came to Brighton to become more mature and get more experience, and hopefully next year I will be playing for Liverpool. That is my dream."
Let's hope this dream comes true.