Cash Boyle explains why Sheyi Ojo should stay at Liverpool for the 2018/19 as opposed to being sent out on loan again.
There is an eerie déjà vu in the air, as the ghost of Karius’ past re-emerges less than two games into the new season. Yet we should remember that prior to the headlines writing themselves, Liverpool played very well against Tranmere Rovers in the first half.
Sheyi Ojo was part of the 11 that raced into a 3-0 lead against their fellow Merseysiders and that is the player I wish to focus on.
We are all aware that sweeping claims shouldn’t be made on the basis of pre-season against lower league opposition, but that said; this is the limited window within which certain players must impress.
Ojo falls into that category; at risk of being perennially farmed out on loan unless he does well when given the opportunity. Ojo did that last night. However, this may mean little in the grand scheme of things for a player who has made 13 senior appearances in 7 years.
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It’s clear that Jürgen Klopp won’t keep both Ryan Kent and Ojo, if either. My view is that if one is to remain at the club, it should be Ojo – both on the basis of his performance against Tranmere and loan success at Fulham last season.
Yet this is undoubtedly a crunch time for a player who, at 21, is no longer a footballing foetus. Ojo remains under contract until 2020, and with that under consideration, there may be designs on selling him now to ensure his value.
However, as of February 2018, Ojo’s market value is £2.5 million – £500,000 more than Liverpool paid for him in 2011. That relative lack of rise is indicative of his career stagnation, but also supports the argument that selling him now wouldn’t be of particular financial benefit.
With this firmly in mind, another loan looks the most likely option – but would it be the best?
Notwithstanding what the player wants, the club does require back-up in the right wing area within which Ojo primarily operates. Nobody is expecting him to dislodge the imperious front three, but it would be nice to have genuine pace on the bench (something sorely lacking in the Champions League Final).
Ojo has had numerous loan spells, with the most recent at Fulham yielding the greatest success. Two serious injuries limited him to 22 appearances, but he did score 4 goals in that period.
Ultimately, he was part of a team that got promoted to the Premier League after going on a 23 game unbeaten run. That experience will clearly have paid dividends.
Last night Ojo both created and scored a goal. In terms of creation, he diligently kept the ball in play and threaded the decisive pass through to Rafael Camacho (who dispatched clinically).
With respect to his own goal, he was involved from start to finish. Sheyi won a free kick which Andy Robertson quickly played to Naby Keïta – Keïta quickly released Ojo who had followed the play.
He still had a bit to do as Tranmere’s Connor Jennings ushered him out wide. He came inside on his left foot and struck a composed finish. Such was his performance that LFCTV made a compilation of his best bits from the game.
He also created a good chance for Robertson and had a shot blocked for a corner. He even threw in a silky backheel for good measure.
However, the player needs only look to his only competitive Liverpool goal to see the reality facing him. In January 2016 Ojo scored the second of three goals in a 3-0 FA Cup win over Exeter City.
The other goalscorers that night were Joe Allen and Joao Teixeira – neither of whom remains at the club. This shows that Liverpool have evolved beyond a certain calibre of player; the onus is on Ojo to demonstrate that he can reach that higher standard.
As I said, sweeping claims cannot be made upon the basis of pre-season against lower league opposition. However, whatever can be derived from such games will surely be positive in Ojo’s case.
Whatever happens, another loan spell suits nobody and the sell-on value appears rather minimal. There is a backup berth at Liverpool Football Club, and Ojo has put himself in a good position to claim it.