With just three matches left in Liverpool's season, there are a still a number of question marks remaining. Most had assumed that the last month of a lame-duck campaign would afford Brendan Rodgers the opportunity to experiment with a system that could carry his side into next season on the front foot, but with only weeks remaining, it's not yet clear how the third-year boss--assuming he'll be around for the 2015-2016 season--will venture forward with a young squad as they look to rebound after this year's disappointments.
One element of that experimentation could have been Javier Manquillo, who had looked promising early in the season on the right side of a back four. When Rodgers switched to a three-man back line, however, Manquillo's minutes disappeared, and time on the pitch has proven has been almost non-existent in 2015. That's led to plenty of speculation about the fullback's future on Merseyside, with most assuming that his temporary spell at Liverpool isn't destined to lead to anything more.
Rodgers isn't quite as pessimistic, however, noting on Friday that he's hopeful that there's more to come from Manquillo heading into next season:
"When the system changed it was obviously a little more difficult for him. Young Manqui is a good defender. He has come in, he signed a two-year loan because the first year was always going to be about adapting to the league and of course he hasn't played as much as he probably would have liked to play. But a lot of that has been due to the system change. He is a good kid and hopefully he comes back in pre-season and can work well and work his way into the team."
What's unclear is why an out-of-position Emre Can and/or Glen Johnson has been preferred to the 21-year-old Spaniard, as neither have looked particularly impressive when featuring at fullback since Rodgers abandoned the change in system that relegated Manquillo to the bench. It's possible there are a few chances left for the Atletico man before the summer break, but Rodgers has proven hesitant to ring in the changes over the final weeks of the season, even though Johnson is headed for an exit at season's end and Can's future appears to lie in midfield.
Manquillo showed enough in the first half of the season to warrant an extended look, and if both clubs and the player are invested in seeing the loan through to another season, it would be nice to Rodgers' words come to fruition.