Jurgen Klopp believes the rise of Liverpool Academy youngsters Ben Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria proves you don’t have to go out on loan in order to make an impact in the senior ranks.
Klopp insists he can’t take the credit for the development of the talented trio, who have all impressed after stepping up to Melwood and being handed first-team debuts so far this season.
However, the German coach says they have benefited from training regularly with the first-team squad and playing for a strong Liverpool Under-23s side.
“The players were already there and I had nothing to do with the development of Ben, Trent or Ovie,” Klopp told the ECHO.
“I don’t think 40 or 50 minutes of football or whatever are enough to get the credit for what the players have done.
“Ovie is maybe a bit different because we saw him and liked him and decided to push him a little bit more. But there was no chance to oversee Trent and Ben for example.
“If they are very young then clubs in the past have sent them on loan and I don’t think it is the perfect situation.
“It’s much better that we can work with them together on football at the highest level.
“We want to create an under-23 team that is really strong. The centre-backs (Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori) are experienced which is unusual, but all the rest are very young, really skilled, they enjoy playing together and they are getting better results.
“If you are the best player in your team at 15 everyone takes you to the under-17s and the next day you feel like the small guy in a forest with only big trees.
“That is one way of education and you need to use situations like this, but being in a very good team and scoring 25 to 30 goals a season should still be possible so that’s why we changed it a little bit. There is not one solution for all of our situations.”
When Klopp took over as manager in October 2015 he was shocked to discover that the Reds had 17 players out on loan.
He had been used to the German structure where clubs retain and nurture their own talent – a process made easier by the fact that Borussia Dortmund’s under-23s played in the regionalised third tier of senior German football.
Prompted by a crippling injury crisis, Klopp soon recalled the likes of Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo, Kevin Stewart and Danny Ward and promoted them to the first-team squad.
Last summer Liverpool’s approach to the loan market was different.
That was partly influenced by changes to the system itself. Emergency loans were scrapped and with no more one-month loans every deal had to be done on a window-to-window basis.
As a result making sure the club was the right fit for the player became more important than ever.
Klopp also sanctioned fewer loans because he doesn’t subscribe to the view that all youngsters need to go out and gain Football League experience in order to help bridge the sizeable gap between youth and senior football.
Liverpool currently have 10 players out on loan but two of them – Allan Rodrigues de Souza (Hertha Berlin) and Taiwo Awoniyi (NEC Nijmegen) – had to depart on temporary deals due to work permit issues.
The rest are Ryan Kent (Barnsley), Danny Ward (Huddersfield), Jon Flanagan (Burnley), Andre Wisdom (Red Bull Salzburg), Ryan Fulton (Chesterfield), Lazar Markovic (Sporting Lisbon), Lloyd Jones (Swindon Town) and Sam Hart (Port Vale).
Certainly with Kent, Ward and Flanagan the decision was taken that they would be better equipped to return and challenge for a first-team spot if they spent the 2016/17 campaign playing regularly elsewhere.
Klopp says in some cases it also buys him time to make up his mind about whether a player has what it takes to be part of his long-term plans.
“We still sent players out on loan by the way. It’s not that we stopped doing this completely, but yes there are fewer,” Klopp said.
“It’s England so we have a lot of players in the squad. Nobody forces you to make a decision on them now so you can send them on loan and see what happens.
“You send them out, pay the bill and see if they come back better than before and more experienced or whatever.
“I was not used to this because in Germany we don’t have the money for so many players. You have to make decisions – good enough, stay; not good enough, leave, sorry.
“Of course there are a few players on loan in Germany but not as many.
“You have to make decisions on what you think will work and if they are good enough here, keep them.
“Sending players on loan too early makes no sense and other times you have to make decisions and say if it’s not for us, try your luck somewhere else.”