Have the Reds already found a new number ten for next season, someone who is already a familiar face to Jurgen Klopp?
After a potential deal for Lyon’s Nabil Fekir fell through at the last moment last summer, Liverpool never really turned their attentions to any other attacking midfielder, much to the chagrin of fans, who still feel that Philippe Coutinho was never really replaced after his £142 million switch to Barcelona in January 2017.
A recent dip in form has seen the Merseyside outfit draw five matches in their last seven games in all competitions, also seeing them relinquish top spot in the Premier League to relentless defending champions Manchester City. One bad issue that has stuck out like a sore thumb from this bad run has been the team crying out for some invention and creativity from midfield. Summer signing Xherdan Shaqiri was viewed as a cheap and quick-fix alternative to Fekir, but he has spent the majority of his time at Anfield on the bench, behind Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
No 10 is clearly a problem that Klopp will try to solve come summer, and perhaps he will not even have to dip into the transfer market. reds academy graduate Harry Wilson has notched ten goals in 29 matches in the Championship for Derby County this season, highly impressive numbers for a 21-year-old, and considering how he has impressed, it seems he would fit right in alongside Roberto Firmino, Mane and Salah.
The Welshman is also a dead-ball expert, and it is no secret that Liverpool have struggled to find quality set-pieces taker lately. Klopp has himself has spoke openly and highly of Wilson, revealing that he has been keeping a close eye on his progress with Derby. “I’m really happy about what Harry is doing. It’s fantastic. It’s a perfect example for it sometimes being really good to leave home to show up somewhere else,” he told Liverpool’s website.
“I really think Harry left in the right moment. Since I was in everybody told me Harry Wilson needed to go on loan. He scored a lot of goals for the U23s already. He went last year to Hull, he was already good. He came back, pre-season was pre-season, and he went to Derby and now he is with Frank (Lampard). It’s really nice the job Frank is doing there, it is outstanding. England has a lot of good young managers, that’s cool.”
Wilson also revealed that he got a text from Klopp after netting a superb free-kick for the Rams against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup. “He dropped me a text to tell me he’d watched the free kick against United and he was delighted with the performance — and the goal!” he said. “A couple of weeks ago there was another message saying, ‘Good result, good goal — keep going’. When you get those texts, it is a massive boost. You know you aren’t forgotten.”
When speculation was growing that Liverpool could recall Wilson back in January, Derby manager Frank Lampard could barely hide his delight at what he’d seen so far from the youngster. “I think Liverpool are doing alright. Hopefully they can keep going and we can keep Harry,” he told BT Sport.
“He can go back next summer and everyone’s happy. Harry’s been absolutely outstanding. The great thing for me about Harry is he’s scored all these eye-catching goals but what I’ve seen, particularly in the last month or two, is progress in his game just by playing regularly,” he said.
“He has the complete game now and he has so much ability. He is also working so hard. He is a real character in our team and he’s always prepared to step up and receive the ball. I’m delighted with Harry’s progress in the short term and he’s a really hungry boy. He wants to do really well. All I want to do is send him back to Liverpool a better player. That’s all on Harry as he’s working so hard to do that.”
Klopp would do well to keep those tabs on Wilson going, for the youngster has been a revelation in the Championship, and seems more than ready to take his place among more illustrious teammates in the Premier League at Anfield next season. It is just a matter of trusting him and giving him time and patience, and that is something the German gaffer is known for. And a good way to gain further goodwill from supporters is to promote an exciting youngster to the first team, especially if the Reds fail in their pursuit to clinch a maiden PL crown, in which case there will be something needed to brighten the mood at Anfield come next season.