Liverpool fullback Jon Flanagan has today completed a loan move to Premier League returnees Burnley in search of regular playing time after missing more than a season through injury. The 23-year-old should benefit from regular playing time. However, it’s a move that leaves Liverpool thin at right back.
Flanagan looked to have, rather unexpectedly, become a solid prospect for the club during their title challenge in 2013-14. Sadly, any chance of building off it was foiled when a knee injury and fluid build-up on it sidelined Flanagan during the next campaign’s pre-season. It took him a season and a half to return to full fitness.
Many expected that having done so, he would be in line to provide cover for Nathaniel Clyne on the right and perhaps even for Alberto Moreno on the left, a dual role that would likely have given Flanagan enough playing time to continue his development. Instead, in recent weeks word of a potential loan began to emerge.
It seems an unusual move for a player at this stage in his career, but ostensibly the idea is that a full season as starter for Burnley is what he needs to get back to his pre-injury level, and that he does still have a future at the club. Still, it’s hard not to look at a move like this and wonder if it isn’t setting Flanagan up for a future sale.
And no matter what the future may hold, in the present it means that Liverpool now find themselves as thin at right back as they are at left back, and that makes bringing in cover—perhaps even a player able to cover both sides of the pitch—more important than ever for Liverpool.