End of Season Report and Next Year's Ambitions for Liverpool's Loan Players
We've reached end of another Premier League season and Liverpool's success in qualifying for next year's Champions League has fans and club officials alike looking toward the summer with an eye on new signings.
While manager Brendan Rodgers will certainly be hoping to bring in a number of new faces, adding to the quality at his disposal, there have also been a dozen Liverpool players out on loan this season who will be hoping they have done enough to earn themselves another crack at making the first team at Anfield next term.
From the promising youngsters to the former established stars of the team, here's a look at the dozen Liverpool players who spent the 2013-14 campaign away from their parent club, and what fans can expect of them next term.
Pepe Reina, Goalkeeper
Division: Serie A, Italy
Reina played 30 league games for former Reds manager Rafael Benitez over in Italy, struggling with injury at times but generally impressing with 10 clean sheets
He also featured in the Champions League group stages for the club five times, adding to his great experience in that competition with the Reds.
Reina had been hoping for a move back to Barcelona, his first club, but the signing of Marc-Andre ter Stegen has put paid to that. His best chance for a move to a top Spanish club appears to be if Atletico Madrid lose loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and ask Reina to follow in his father's footsteps.
Either way, with his massive wages and his dip in form between 2010 and 2013, he won't be at Liverpool next season.
Andre Wisdom, Right-Back
Club: Derby County
Promising defender Andre Wisdom spent the 2013-14 campaign with Derby County, making 33 league appearances under Steve McClaren, mainly at right-back.
As usual, he has shown himself to be calm and composed in possession, strong in the challenge and not hugely adventurous in roving forward, being content to support from a slightly deeper line.
Wisdom helped Derby to a play-off final place, but his team lost 1-0 at Wembley on Saturday to be denied a return to the Premier League. However, Wisdom can be content that he has shown he's more than capable of competing at that level—the challenge comes in stepping up.
If Liverpool do not add a right-back in the summer window, Wisdom should be competing with the likes of Jon Flanagan for that position. Otherwise, a Premier League loan move would not be the worst plan for the 21-year-old.
Ryan McLaughlin, Right-Back
Young right-back Ryan McLaughlin enjoyed a shorter-term loan spell at Barnsley, playing his first nine senior matches in the process.
It was perhaps not the most successful loan spell ever in terms of the outcome—Barnsley were relegated at the end of the season—but at this stage for McLaughlin it was simply about getting first-team action, which he did.
At both youth level for the Reds and later on in the season for Barnsley, he operated in a more advanced role on the wing. While it still seems as though his main position might be from full-back, such versatility with his natural pace and attacking instincts will simply give him more chance of making the breakthrough at his parent club.
Still only 19, McLaughlin could well be loaned out again next season, though he should get his chance with the first team in pre-season too.
Tiago Ilori, Centre-Back
Division: La Liga, Spain
Portuguese central defender Tiago Ilori has yet to make his senior debut for Liverpool, but he performed impressively—if irregularly—in Spain during a half-season loan spell.
After joining relegation battlers Granada in January, Ilori went straight into the side for two games before injury sidelined him. A return for the final seven matches followed, during which time he helped keep two clean sheets in 1-0 victories, enough for Granada to avoid the drop by two points.
Particularly impressive was his determined and consistent performance against Barcelona, where Ilori repelled Leo Messi and Co. time and time again to aid the 1-0 win.
He should be back in the summer to fight for a first-team berth at Anfield in pre-season, especially with the increased game load next season. Ilori could be one of the few loan stars who could actually win himself a regular spot next season.
Seb Coates, Centre-Back
Division: Primera Division, Uruguay
Remember Seb Coates?
The Uruguayan centre-back damaged cruciate ligaments at the beginning of 2013-14, ruling him out of a transfer—he was unlikely to figure in Brendan Rodgers' plans at the time anyway.
He secured a loan move back to his old club Nacional in January, where he has completed his recovery and gone on to make half a dozen appearances in competitive action, including in the Copa Libertadores.
As a result, he's earned himself a spot in Uruguay's World Cup squad, but he has no Liverpool future and is almost guaranteed to be sold over the summer.
Jack Robinson, Left-Back
Once upon a time, Jack Robinson became Liverpool's youngest ever player when Rafa Benitez handed him a debut in the closing minutes of the season, aged just 16.
Fast forward four years and the left-back has only managed to add another 10 appearances to his Liverpool tally, and he was on loan at Blackpool for the entire 2013-14 season.
Robinson played 34 times in the league and added a couple more cup appearances to his total, but he was sent off three times during the season, missing eight games through suspension, and he missed the last three matches of the campaign through injury as Blackpool just about survived the drop.
However, the left-back is not likely to push for a first-team place next season, especially if the Reds sign a new top-drawer defender for that side, as is expected. A loan move is a possibility, though the number of players ahead of him means Liverpool will probably sell him if they can.
Conor Coady, Central Midfield
Club: Sheffield United
Division: League One
Midfielder Conor Coady has excelled for Sheffield United this season, though he has been playing another level further down the league pyramid, in League One. Even so, his impressive form was part of the reason the Blades managed a run to Wembley in the FA Cup, where they were eliminated in the semi-final.
Typically a holding midfielder for the Reds, he has been seen to be operating in a less restricted, energetic box-to-box role this season, scoring six times in 50 games in all competitions.
That volume of matches will benefit the player enormously going forward, and if Liverpool had been "on course" with their progression, perhaps finishing fourth or fifth this season, there's a good chance he could have been involved next term as a squad or cup player.
As it is, Liverpool have surpassed all expectations and, as a result, the calibre of player to be brought into the club will now be increased. Unfortunately for Coady, that likely means he'll probably be sold on to a strong Championship outfit in the summer, though he's capable of stepping up to the Premier League in time.
Suso, Attacking Midfield
Division: La Liga, Spain
Attacking midfielder Suso has spent the campaign in Spain with Almeria, during their successful battle against relegation.
Suso played 33 times in La Liga for his loan side, scoring three goals and claiming nine assists, impressing in patches with his improvisation, creativity and ability to beat a man. He suffered from inconsistency of course, as young attackers are prone to doing, and lost his place in the side around the middle third of the campaign.
All told, his season must be counted a success, though it remains to be seen whether he has progressed enough to challenge for a place in an attack at Liverpool that is now recognised as one of the best in Europe. He'll have pre-season to impress Brendan Rodgers and prove he can be an option in the attacking midfield positions, but Suso really has his work cut out to stay at the club.
Aged 20, he still has time to develop further so another year on loan could be an option.
Jordon Ibe, Attacking Midfielder
Club: Birmingham City
Another of Liverpool's youngsters in the Championship was winger Jordon Ibe, who played for Birmingham during the second half of the campaign and scored once in 11 appearances.
His performances down the left flank were often impressive and inventive, giving confidence to the youngster and helping City survive relegation on the final day, with many of his appearances being as an impact substitute.
Ibe is all but assured of a longer-term future with Liverpool; his technique and pace on the ball make him an ideal fit for the front three in a range of roles, and even at the age of 18, he could offer something next season. If not, a loan spell at a Premier League club should be looked at, such is his talent.
Oussama Assaidi, Winger
Club: Stoke City
Division: Premier League
Oussama Assaidi clearly has plenty of talent and skill, assets which perfectly suit Premier League clubs' attacks, but he has probably found his level in a mid-table side at Stoke.
Injuries aside, he impressed on the pitch from the left flank, making 19 league appearances and scoring four goals, with Mark Hughes known to be keen on keeping him as a result.
Liverpool won't stand in his way and will try to recoup somewhere around £4 million for the winger.
Krisztian Adorjan, Attacking Midfielder
Division: Eredivisie, Holland
Hungarian attacker Krisztian Adorjan spent this term in Netherlands and played well in a number of his 19 Eredivisie appearances, but Groningen opted not to make his loan move permanent this summer.
Usually employed as a second forward in the Reds' youth sides, he played more as an attacker from the right in Netherlands, scoring three league goals in the process.
He'll be 22 years old by the time the new season kicks off and is not going to make the breakthrough at Anfield—a free transfer abroad is Adorjan's most likely move.
Fabio Borini, Forward
Division: Premier League
The Reds' biggest name out on loan this season, at least in terms of the club's future, was Fabio Borini.
The £10-million striker spent the campaign at Sunderland, scoring 10 goals in 40 games in all competitions, including a few important strikes in the North East derby and the League Cup final, and he was an important part of the reason Sunderland survived the drop this term.
A hard-working striker with good mobility, Borini has shown—especially over the second half of the campaign—that he can cope with being a regular Premier League player.
He's not displacing Liverpool's front two any time soon, but the Reds need at least one more central striker for next season, possibly two, and Borini has a great chance of being involved beyond the summer. He has to improve further, and he'll also play wide if he does stay, but it's hard to see him leaving unless an offer of around £8 million or more comes in for him.
Borini could easily be the Reds' third-choice forward for 2014-15.