Ben Woodburn faces a huge summer as both he and Liverpool make a decision on his future.
Woodburn was the brightest prospect at Liverpool in 2016. Jurgen Klopp began including him in his first-team squads and the teenager made his debut that November.
Woodburn became the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer just three days after his debut and the future looked incredibly bright. He went on to finish his debut senior season with nine first-team appearances, five in the Premier League.
Since then, however, things have slowed down. 17/18 saw Woodburn appear just twice for the first-team. He was then loaned out to Sheffield United last year but the deal was cut short after he barely appeared.
And so Woodburn is back at the club and facing an uncertain future this summer. Another disastrous loan would be devastating for the now 19-year-old. Similarly, a year outside of senior football and he’ll only stagnate.
Despite appearing on the bench against Barcelona this month, it’s difficult to see him getting first-team chances. Liverpool have too much depth and Woodburn is too unproven.
He desperately needs a season like Ryan Kent or Harry Wilson have managed. Kent won the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year award but at 22, his time has likely passed for Liverpool. Wilson’s 17 goals this season for Derby County may have earned him a shot at Liverpool – and that’s the standard Woodburn needs to hit at the very least.
But as we saw with Sheffield United, he needs a loan that clicks for him. Get it wrong again, and his Anfield prospects look bleak – how many players fail in two loan spells and make it? Very, very few. Get it right, though, and his age allows him a future with Liverpool.
It’s a huge summer for Woodburn and it’s time both he and Liverpool get things right.