When Raheem Sterling made his £50M switch to Manchester City last summer, many Liverpool fans said not to worry. Said that the club had a prospect at least as good waiting to take over for him. Liverpool still had Jordon Ibe. They are unlikely to have him for much longer.
Today, Liverpool have accepted a £15M bid for the young talent from Bournemouth. The player has been given permission to discuss personal terms with the south coast club and, if he does, he will be free to leave Anfield this summer. If he doesn’t, Ibe’s value in the market will have been set.
There were moments of promise. Flashes of skill. A pass in the Europa League. A stepover and burst of pace in the cup. The raw talent, clearly, was there. Yet as the season wore on, despite injuries, his chances became fewer and his impact became less. The talent was there, but something was missing.
Ibe last season at times appeared to be playing the same game as when he first showed up at Liverpool as a supremely talented 16-year-old, all pace and raw potential but lacking tactical refinement. Lacking the nous to know when to attack the channel or lay off the simple pass to a teammate.
As a 16-year-old, that was par for the course. As 20-year-old, it was worrying. It was the issue that, when one half of Liverpool fans claimed the club had a brighter talent on their hands than Sterling, the other half said, yes, but only if he can develop his game. Only if he can stop relying only on his pace.
Under Klopp, he didn’t. He stayed the same. As he had under Rodgers and as he had at Derby County, where his then-manager had quipped that the team needed two balls when Ibe played—one for Ibe, and one for everyone else. It was a comment that underlined a genuine frustration with the player.
A frustration that for all his talent, for all his pace and promise, he didn’t pass the ball. Most often didn’t even get his head up. That he played in his own little bubble on the wing. Sometimes it came off wonderfully, but it was still always a case of waiting for the rest to click; for Ibe to become a star.
He may still become that. If not at Bournemouth then somewhere else. It appears, though, that won’t be at Liverpool, and with no European football and the arrival of Sadio Mané, his minutes—his chances to develop into that star—always would have been lacking had he remained.
And so. Liverpool have accepted a £15M bid for Jordon Ibe.