Last season, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said that all things being equal, he’d prefer to keep the club’s most promising youngster around to train with the first team and see spot minutes in the cups and off the bench when the situation allowed it.
This season, without Europe and likely to play far fewer games than last season, it turns out that things aren’t equal. And that Klopp is now expected to sign off on the loans of at lest three of his more promising youth players, a list headlined by 19-year-old Ryan Kent.
Kent has been one of the club’s most promising performers in pre-season, but he also plays at arguably the club’s deepest position—in the attacking band behind the striker. That means competing with a lengthy list of first team stars if he wants to see the pitch this season.
Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, and Adam Lallana are the presumptive top picks there. Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner will also be in line for minutes there, as could one of Liverpool’s strikers if time is limited up top in Klopp’s one-striker system.
Without Europe, that means a loan is on the cards, at least according to the Liverpool Echo, who claim that Barnsley are frontrunners to sign the Oldham-born attacker for the coming season. He is likely to be joined on loan by defender Lloyd Jones and attacker Jack Dunn.
"One or two of the older members of the group—Lloyd Jones, Jack Dunn—will possibly go on loan now in the next two weeks," was U21 manager Michale Beale’s take when asked about what the future held for some of the club’s more promising youngsters.
"Then Ovie Ejaria, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn—they’ll come back and join the group once the tour ends. Ben will be back in training this week, we just gave him a few days to let everything calm down around him, obviously he’s still such a young boy."