Ki-Jana Hoever’s £13.5 million [BBC] move to Wolverhampton Wanderers was completely out of the blue, to say the least.
It was almost lost in a transfer frenzy that was sparked following Liverpool’s additions of both Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota.
The 18-year-old has left Anfield in an initial £9 million deal, potentially rising to £13.5 million in add-ons. Sporting director Michael Edwards was also able to negotiate a 15 per cent sell-on clause into Hoever’s contract should he ever look to leave Molineux.
Ki-Jana Hoever becomes our fourth summer addition.
— Wolves (@Wolves) September 19, 2020
A bright future
It still hasn’t settled in that Hoever’s time at Liverpool is effectively over given the successful development that was overseen at the club. He was Liverpool’s youngest ever FA Cup debutant, at just 16, when he came off the bench against Wolves back in January 2019.
As debuts go, it was about as composed and assured as it could get from the talented Dutchman who partnered Fabinho in a 2-1 defeat just under two years ago.
Composed in possession coupled by his blistering recovery pace, Hoever had quickly established himself as one of Jurgen Klopp’s best options for the future. There was a sense of maturity in his game that if harnessed correctly, Liverpool could have a real player on their hands.
It showed in Hoever’s next outing under Klopp in a Carabao Cup bout with MK Dons last season where he capped off his first start for the club with his first Liverpool senior goal – a bullet header at the back post from a James Milner cross.
However, it was the teenager’s performance in the FA Cup which gave the greatest indication yet that Hoever was a talent to be reckoned with. Partnered alongside Sepp van den Berg, Hoever produced a stunning defensive display against Shrewsbury Town to help register one of the most memorable victories of last season after Neil Critchley and his young Reds (with an average age of 19 years, 102 days) guided Liverpool into the fifth round of the competition.
An ideal move for both parties
His career appeared to be in an upward trajectory with no worries of slowing down, then all of a sudden, he left.
The issue for Hoever, as with a number of up-and-coming Liverpool talents, is how are they to take their development to the next level in a squad that is littered with some of the best players in world football?
Players such as Curtis Jones, Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott seem to have successfully integrated themselves into Klopp’s system yet for the likes of Hoever, Van den Berg and Harry Wilson it hasn’t been as simple.
Hoever is predominantly utilised best in central defence, a position that is currently occupied by the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. Fabinho has also demonstrated to Klopp that he is more than capable of thriving in a back-four when called upon.
Also, Billy Koumetio’s emergence in pre-season will only have complicated matters further for Hoever after the 17-year-old was included in Klopp’s Community Shield squad to face Arsenal last month, while Hoever was overlooked.
This left Hoever with practically two options; keep playing for the under-23’s and Barry Lewtas this season or take the leap and embark on a new adventure elsewhere.
Indeed, the youngster opted for the latter where at Wolves, by contrast, there is expected to be game-time. Nuno Espirito Santos is renowned for keeping his squad size small and purchasing players with immediate prospects for his first-team.
Of course, Hoever will not be a guaranteed starter, but given his versatility to play at both centre-back and right-back coupled with the recent departure of Matt Doherty to Tottenham, there should be significantly more opportunities to progress his career to the next level as opposed to at Liverpool.
Another factor is Wolves’ notorious tactical use of a 3-4-3 system which will perfectly complement Hoever’s skill set given he can excel in two contrasting positions.
While Liverpool have lost a potential player for the future, similarly to Jota, it’s a move that makes financial sense for both parties.
Considering the Reds are to receive an eight-figure sum for a player they purchased for only £90,000 in 2018 represents outstanding business from a club perspective and an offer too lucrative to refuse.
Liverpool have become meticulous in their ability to recruit and develop young talent before selling on for a substantial profit.
The brutal reality of football is that more often than not, the player just isn’t cut to make it at the top. This isn’t a criticism of Hoever’s quality by any stretch as similarly to Connor Coady, he could still take his career to the next level outside of Anfield.
From a Liverpool standpoint, however, it is extraordinary business. Hoever’s immediate departure has effectively paid the first instalment of both deals concerning Thiago and Jota.
The club have only had to pay around £9.5 million in total in initial payments for Liverpool’s two newest recruits and part of that’s been covered by the sale Hoever to Wolves for £9 million potentially rising to £13.5 million.
Liverpool’s latest financial masterclass is another glowing example of why the Reds are just as formidable off the pitch as they are on it.
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