As Liverpool failed to land Thomas Lemar in a £90m deal on the last day of the summer transfer window last year, Reds fans were largely unimpressed with the club’s business. We did not yet know how exceptional a fit record transfer Mohamed Salah — in many quarters considered nothing but a speed merchant — would turn out to be, nor was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s suitability for Jürgen Klopp’s midfield apparent, to the point that the £35m fee was widely considered a waste of money.
Dominic Solanke’s free transfer from Chelsea and Andrew Robertson’s £8m move from relegated Hull — backups at striker and left-back, nothing more — were mere afterthoughts in the despondency of missing out on stated primary targets Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keïta. Penny-pinching Liverpool couldn’t get who they wanted, the narrative went, and Jürgen Klopp can’t turn every mid-range signing into gold.
The latter turned out to be true; Solanke has not had a season that can in any way be called significant, and the decision to essentially swap him for Divock Origi has not been particuarly successful. That other cheap backup, however, is a different matter altogether.
Stuck riding pine in the early stages of the season, largely down to Alberto Moreno putting together his best, most mature string of performances in a red shirt, Robertson didn’t command much attention. When the Scotsman took the pitch, there were glimmers of ability — a particularly tasty swerving cross here, a surging tackle there — but the 24-year old largely looked like the short-term back-up he was billed as.
Fast forward eight months or so, and the former Dundee United prospect is starting in a Champions League final without anybody batting an eye. It’s been a hell of a ride.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey from the start to now,” said the former Tiger.
”When I signed here, I dreamed of these nights and I took my time to find my feet but I’m here now - what a night tonight and the first leg was unbelievable.
”We’ve got a few big games coming up but now we’ve got to look forward to Kiev and hopefully I can play a big part in it.”
Climbing from the Scottish third tier, via the SPL, through the Championship, to the Premier League, and finally a bona fide starter at the ultimate stage of the Champions League in only five years is quite the spectacular journey for a player who was released by Celtic at 15 for being too small, and who only restarted his football career at 18.
Let’s cross our fingers this particular Cinderella story can get the fairytale ending this Tweet deserves.