Dave Davis examines the decision that Jon Flanagan needs to make with a loan move to Burnley on the cards.
When a player signs a new three year contract after a long lay-off, you’d naturally think that’s a show of faith by the club. However, there are question marks starting to linger over Jon Flanagan, whose name came in as a makeweight in the Wijnaldum deal and has a decision to make about a loan move to Burnley. For Liverpool’s only senior Scouser in the ranks, a decision must be made. He has reached a crossroads where he needs to make a very important decision which will define his career on Merseyside.
Rewind back to the 2013/14 season and it’s hard to believe that we’re in this position. A local lad with a profile increasing by the week, Flanagan was one of the breakout players from that remarkable campaign, with his goal against Spurs the highlight. Liverpool looked like they’d found their right-back for the next few years, who could even play on the left when called upon. A call up to the England squad was more than justified as the ‘Scouse Cafu’ gave rise to the belief a local heartbeat would exist after Carra and Stevie departed.
Fast forward to today and the picture looks very different. After returning from a serious lay-off, Flanagan understandably finds himself behind Nathaniel Clyne in the pecking order at right back. With Connor Randall nipping at his heels, Joe Gomez returning, Alberto Moreno and Brad Smith as options on the other side, there’s whispers about how many minutes a lad born a stones throw from Anfield would actually get in a campaign with no European football. He’s made it clear he’s up for the challenge and was the first back for additional pre-season training. Training won’t prove he’s back to the player of the heartbreaking 2013/14 title run-in though.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley are back in the Premier League and according to the Liverpool Echo the Clarets are keen on taking Flanagan on loan which could see a big change in his fortune at Liverpool. If the young fullback were to leave it could mean he would find it more difficult to return to the side and wouldn’t be able to seize any opportunities presented by injury to Clyne. Klopp is clearly a fan of the robust Scouser but he isn’t high in the pecking order and this counts against Flanagan.
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Flanno needs to prove that the player from previous seasons is there. No-one has any doubt he won’t shirk any tackles, but is the movement, pace and ability what it was after such a serious injury? Klopp may find that no-one will try harder in pre-season or be keener to make an impression. Only time will tell if that’s enough.