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Liverpool Loan Watch: Championship Shop Window Edition

We look at how some of Liverpool’s most saleable assets are doing.

Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth - Sky Bet Championship - Cardiff City Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Not all players signed to a club like Liverpool are going to make the grade and establish themselves in Red. In fact, most of them won’t. They still need to play football, though, and many spend their years out on loan, usually in order to keep their value up and their profile visible for when the time comes to move on for good.

Harvey Elliott has, naturally, received more attention than the other Liverpool loanees this season, but there is little indication the club are entertaining the idea of letting the Championship’s leading goal creator go anytime soon, and his time at Blackburn is legitimately considered a developmental move. Marko Grujic and Taiwo Awoniyi have their own stories, and we will look at them at a later date, but for now, we focus on the dynamic duo plying their trade in Wales for the year.

Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo are both on loan at Cardiff — racking up 23 and 28 appearances, respectively — and have both notched 11 goal involvements for the Dragons, with Wilson scoring four and assisting seven, and Ojo scoring five and assisting six.

The pair feature in the attacking band of Neil Harris’ 4-2-3-1 formation, with Wilson largely sitting behind main striker Kiefer Moore, and Ojo taking up positions on either flank, floating crosses from the left or cutting inside and slipping in through balls from the right. Ojo is more likely to take on his man, averaging 1.3 dribbles per 90 minutes compared to Wilson’s 0.5, but the latter provides more passing threat, offering 0.9 open play shot assists compared to Ojo’s 0.7.

The ‘open play’ is a significant qualifier, as Wilson has quickly established himself as Cardiff’s main set-piece taker, generating a total of 24 shot assists from corners and free kicks, good for fourth in the division overall. He has also maintained his ranged threat, maintaining his 10% conversion rate from outside the area, but makes far fewer of these attempts than during his spell at Derby and Bournemouth, spreading his shots and shot assists evenly, at 2.1 each per 90 minutes.

Ojo has proved much less of a volume threat, providing exactly half as many shots and shot assists as Wilson on average, but converting both at twice the clip. Questions will be asked whether this sort of conversion rate — 17% for his shots and 40% for his shot assists — is sustainable, but for now, Cardiff will be more than happy with the attacker’s top line production as they continue their fight for playoff spot.

Both Wilson and Ojo will have turned 24 by the time summer rolls around, and the expectation is that both will be moved on permanently, if appropriate deals can be struck. Wilson has established himself as a top Championship to bottom-half Premier League player and should end up somewhere in that range, while Ojo is putting together the longest run of games in his career so far, which should hopefully go some way towards making him a known commodity among clubs in the second tier.

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