Derby County are reportedly close to agreeing a deal to sign former Liverpool striker Bobby Duncan, according to The Telegraph.
Duncan, 19, is the cousin of former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. He left the Reds last summer after completing a switch to Florentina in acrimonious circumstances but is closing on a return to England.
Former Liverpool forward Jordan Ibe is also closing in on a deal to Derby after the Bournemouth winger was seen having a medical on Monday.
Duncan joined Liverpool from Man City in 2018 after a protracted stand-off which saw the deal resolved in a court room. Liverpool agreed a compensation package with City of around £200,000 in the summer of 2018.
Duncan’s first season at Anfield was nothing shy of exceptional. The teenager scored 32 goals and provide 23 assists in all competitions for the club’s under-18s during the 2018/19 campaign.
He returned to haunt his former club Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup final when his stunning equaliser in front of Pep Guardiola took the match to penalties. Liverpool held their nerve to win the shootout.
Duncan was then quickly promoted to the under-23s with Neil Critchley and was regularly involved in first-team sessions at Melwood. In July 2019, Duncan was included alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to feature in Jurgen Klopp’s pre-season tour of the United States.
He scored in his senior Liverpool debut during a 6-0 victory against Tranmere Rovers. He also played against Sevilla at Boston’s Fenway Park before featuring against Napoli in Edinburgh and Lyon in Geneva.
Klopp was impressed with Duncan’s attitude, application, and confidence in front of goal. The German manager deemed that the youngster’s talents would be best utilised with the U23’s for the 2019/20 season. Duncan disagreed.
Despite featuring behind in the pecking order to Salah, Mane, Firmino, Divock Origi and Rhian Brewster, Duncan felt his first-team credentials were not as promising as expected and this prompted an unfortunate series of events.
The only Liverpool Academy attacker who had a footballing reason to feel disappointed that summer was his under-18s strike partner Paul Glatzel. On the same night Duncan scored on his debut against Tranmere, Glatzel was on the treatment table after he suffered an ACL injury which required surgery and ruled him out for the entirety of the 2019/20 season.
The teenager’s exit from Anfield was highly documented after Ducan’s agent, Saiff Rubie, issued a statement which accused the Anfield hierarchy of ‘damaging his mental health’.
The striker’s move to Italy hasn’t exactly gone to plan and Fiorentina now look set to allow him to leave just over 12 months after his controversial move.
Derby are the favourites to land the former City youngster and hope to conclude a deal in the next few days. It is understood that Duncan is currently in England in an attempt to close a deal for a permanent return to the country.
It is expected, however, that Duncan will be a signing for Derby’s under-23s and initially not for the first-team. He could still be in contention for a place in Phillip Cocu’s squad if he impresses.
What RTK has to say
Had Duncan not forced his way out of the Anfield doors there is no reason to suggest that opportunities in Klopp’s squad wouldn’t have followed given what unfolded last season.
Liverpool losing Paul Glatzel to injury and later loaning Rhian Brewster out to Swansea effectively would have opened the door for Duncan to showcase his talents under Klopp in the domestic cups.
Had he stayed, Duncan likely would have been involved in Liverpool’s League Cup quarter final against Aston Villa when the first team were in Qatar back in December 2019.
Duncan would also have had the chance to be in and around the first team when they were lifting the Premier League trophy alongside the likes of Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.
If there is anything to take from this situation it is that time is everything in football and sometimes it is best to consider all options before making big decisions.
Unfortunatlety for Duncan, the former Liverpool youngster hasn’t been helped by his agent and it’s because of such poor representation that has effectively stalled the player’s development for the best part of a year.
Considering his age and potential, let’s hope Duncan’s return to England can allow the young striker to return to his best.
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