Liverpool have had a number of new dawns in recent seasons, with Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish all bringing their own ideas and signings to the club. With the recent managerial changes, however, a number of squad players and talented youngsters have been sent out on loan.
What is to become of these players who were shipped out on loan by the Reds at the start of the season? Have they become the forgotten members of the Rafa Benitez/Roy Hodgson era? Do they have a future at a club in the process of rebuilding? Are they Rambling Rejects or Hidden Gems?
Liverpool F.C. have endured a positive, if unspectacular, season thus far but have found goals hard to come by. Although they have not lost at home this season, Liverpool have only managed 14 goals in 12 games, largely due to the absence of influential captain Steven Gerrard.
Nevertheless, while Dalglish has brought in three international strikers since his appointment, only Luis Suarez’ creative guile has unlocked the top teams in England. It is hard to believe Craig Bellamy is their top scorer in the league with a paltry six goals.
Currently lying seventh in the league, would any of the current crop of loaned players have been capable of making a difference in the creativity department this season, or are they now surplus to requirements?
Remember Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani? Or the hullaballoo that surrounded the signing of Scottish starlet Danny Wilson? These players, along with a host of others, have been sent out on loan under new boss Dalglish. One wonders if Cole’s natural ability or Aquilani’s sublime technique would have made a difference this season.
First up is a recent loan returnee Jonjo Shelvey, who has recently shown that a successful temporary switch can catapult you into contention at your parent club.
The former Charlton Athletic youngster received rave reviews and notched six goals in ten games while at Blackpool before returning to Anfield and making an impressive first league start for the Reds against Aston Villa in December. The midfielder has become a useful understudy for Stephen Gerrard and Lucas Leiva since his return to Anfield.
Joe Cole’s signing was hailed as a canny move by then manager Hodgson and most pundits classed it as the signing of the season when he arrived on a free transfer in the summer of 2010.
However, niggling injuries, poor form and a red card on his debut have all added to the former English international being frozen out at the end of last season. Hodgson even used the Europa League as a way to help Cole find some form but to no avail, while Dalglish wasn’t sure where his best position was.
The arrival of Stuart Dowling, Charlie Adam, Craig Bellamy and Jordan Henderson has added more competition for places. With no club willing to buy the former West Ham man, Dalglish off-loaded him to French side Lille, where the promise of Champions League football appealed to Cole.
His time at Lille has been a success, with eight goals in 23 appearances, including a recent hat-trick in a cup game. However, Lille finished bottom of their Champions League group and currently lie third in Ligue 1, ten points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
At age 30, it’s hard to see the former Chelsea man playing for Liverpool again, but Suarez aside, the Reds could have done with Cole’s creativity in the final third this season. Unless Dalglish signs a creative midfielder, Cole could be given another chance come next season.
Verdict: A move away from Anfield looks likely.
Since the Italian international arrived at Anfield in 2009, his Liverpool career has been plagued by injuries, lack of consistency and the emergence of the productive Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard attacking-partnership under then manager Rafa Benitez.
Aquilani’s talents have never been questioned, but doubts still persist over whether his style is suited to the Premier League. The former Roma man is at his best when allowed to roam behind the striker, but the technically gifted midfielder never settled on Merseyside and looked at odds when in the red of Liverpool.
The fact that Juventus and now Milan have taken, and then regularly utilised, Aquilani underlines his talent, but as of yet no club has made a permanent offer acceptable to a club looking to recoup the £17m spent three seasons ago. Liverpool lack that creative spark behind the front striker and one wonders if this season would have brought the best out of the Italian.
However, a permanent move back to Italy looks the likely outcome and Liverpool will hope he enjoys a good Euro 2012, where he will be in the shop window for all of Europe to see.
Verdict: He’s Italian and that’s where he’ll finish his career.
The young defender arrived from Glasgow Rangers last summer with a very bright future after the Livingston born centre-back won a trio of personal accolades – SFA Young Player of the Year, the Scottish Football Writers’ Young Player of the Year and Rangers’ Young Player of the Year.
This success brought him to the attention of Liverpool and the club were quick to agree a deal which could eventually reach £5m depending on success and appearances. However, with competition for places much fiercer on Merseyside, the Scotland international has struggled to make a similar impact south of the border. When he has featured, it has often been out of position at left-back.
With the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates all above him in the pecking order, it made sense for the 20-year-old to seek competitive action elsewhere. His loan spell at Blackpool has only recently happened so it’s too early to judge the impact this will have on his long-term, first-team aspirations. Wilson is still young and his raw potential still untapped. It is unlikely Liverpool will cash in just yet and expect him to make a return to Merseyside come season end.
Verdict: Too good to let go for now.
A product of the famed Barcelona youth system, Pacheco arrived on Merseyside with a big reputation in 2007 as a then 16-year-old. Such was his ability to score at will, he earned the nickname El Asesino (The Assassin), but the diminutive striker has failed to live up to his reputation despite seeing plenty of first team action, albeit in the Europa League.
Prior to this spell in Spain, he enjoyed a brief spell at Norwich where he scored twice in six games as the Canaries were promoted to the top flight. Rather confusingly, the 21-year-old is on loan at Rayo from Athletico Madrid, who in turn have him on loan from Liverpool. He has made eight appearances in La Liga but has yet to score and his days at Anfield are probably numbered.
Verdict: Move back to Spain likely outcome
Signed from Hungarian feeder club MTK, Gulacsi is highly regarded by the coaching staff and has 20 U-21 caps already to his name. Initially signed in 2007, the Budapest born shot stopper quickly became a big part of the treble winning reserve team during his first year at the club.
Gulacsi has made the bench on a number of occasions for the first-team without seeing any action. Before his current spell at Hull, where after 15 appearances he`s currently unavailable with a knee injury, the player enjoyed two spells at Tranmere Rovers and one at Hereford United.
Aged only 21, there is a good chance Gulacsi still has a future at Liverpool, especially with uncertainties remaining over the long-term future of current back-up keepers Alexander Doni and Brad Jones.
Verdict: Young and talented, he’ll stay.
The powerful and pacey striker is another Youth team player who quickly rose through the ranks. After impressing during the U18s’ run to the FA Youth Cup final, Amoo was promoted to the reserve team under the guidance of Hodgson and his future looked bright.
His star continued to rise as he secured an improved contract and made a first team appearance in the Europa League last season. When Dalglish took over, Amoo went out on loan to MK Dons and Hull City before arriving at Bury last September, where he has scored two goals in 13 appearances. At only 20 years of age, Amoo will most likely return to Melwood and the reserves at the end of his loan spell.
Verdict: Likely to stay at Liverpool but at 21 needs to start making serious progress.
The former Youth team captain led his team to FA Youth cup victories in 2006 and 2007 and went on to make his league bow against Tottenham in 2008. However, since then and despite successful loan spells at Swindon Town, Notts County and now Rochdale, his days at Liverpool are probably numbered.
At 23, he is no longer perceived as a future star. With the emerging Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan having overtaken him in the pecking order, Darby is certain to leave the club in the near future.
Verdict: Surplus to requirements