At the start of the season, it looked as though Liverpool wouldn't be in a position to give Jordon Ibe many opportunities in the senior squad. With four recognized strikers in the squad and a host of attacking midfield and creative types ahead of him on the depth chart, Ibe was clearly going to find more chances elsewhere, making a temporary move to Derby the best choice for all involved. He would get his first extended run in senior football, while Steve McLaren's squad would benefit from his skill and Liverpool had the comfort of knowing he would get minutes in an environment with quality coaching and a commitment to the young forward's development.
His was among the most successful loan spells for a Liverpool player this season, with regular starts in a Derby side that were on excellent form for most of the season's first half. A combination of factors cut that loan short, however, with Ibe's impressive performances and a change in formation--as well as struggles with form and fitness for those who had started ahead of him in the pecking order--led Brendan Rodgers to recall the promising youngster, and immediately insert him into the first team setup.
The player's skillset fit well in a right wingback role, and he was instantly one of the more exciting attacking players in the Liverpool squad. His form dipped slightly before falling to an injury of his own, and while he hasn't quite matched the heights of his first few weeks back, he's still set for significant minutes down the stretch. It all came as a bit of a surprise to Ibe, who had expected to remain at Pride Park for the rest of the campaign, and will now look to extend his Liverpool deal under the guidance of his parents:
"To be fair, I thought I would be at Derby for the rest of the season. That was the doubt; that if I came back I might not play, and be on the bench for most games for the experience. He spoke to me two weeks prior to me coming back, and said the way we were playing now would give me the chance to fit in in that wing-back role. He told me, ‘when you get back, you can start training and hopefully get in and start playing games'. I slightly doubted it, but I spoke to my parents and we just came to the position that if the gaffer says I have to come back then I have to - I can't say no!"
"I don't have (an agent). I don't believe in them. I just don't see the need for an agent, really. My parents are doing the same job, and my family will always be number one to me. They're the best people for me. They give me any advice I need, and then obviously I have the final decision. I don't see what an agent can do for me that my parents couldn't."
It's impossible to avoid comparison to what's unfolded with Raheem Sterling, who has worked closely with agent Aidy Ward as his contract negotiations have dragged on since the fall. Working with one's parents doesn't immediately mean that the club will secure the deal, of course, but it doesn't appear likely that Liverpool will have similar struggles when it comes to working out an extension.
- Chelsea vs. Liverpool: Match Preview, Team News, and Ways to Watch
- Manquillo "Hopefully Comes Back" Despite Disappearing from Liverpool's First-Team Picture
- Saturday Open Thread: Delaying the Inevitable Edition
- Mourinho: "Steven Gerrard is One of My Favourite Enemies"
- Liverpool Will Start Pre-Season in Thailand