Harry Wilson rolled back the years for Liverpool having featured under Jurgen Klopp for the first time in more than three-and-a-half years during the Carabao Cup defeat to Arsenal last night.
The 23-year-old was a surprise inclusion in Liverpool’s starting XI against Arsenal with Xherdan Shaqiri the noticeable omission from Klopp’s squad after it emerged that the Switzerland international is close to securing a permanent transfer away from Anfield.
According to Goal, two clubs – both unspecified – have shown a rapid interest in Shaqiri and Liverpool look set to rake in £20 million following his departure.
Wilson, who missed the decisive spot-kick in sudden death, had previously looked set to join Burnley prior to the Arsenal match following talks between the clubs over the past week. However, an offer of £12 million-plus a potential £4 million in add-ons was rejected by Liverpool, who according to James Pearce, want an overall package of around £20 million, including at least £15 million guaranteed.
The Wales international put an under-the-radar performance against Arsenal under the Anfield lights.
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Wilson created five goalscoring chances and was unfortunate to finish the game without an assist.
A key pass is considered any pass that directly leads to a shot. Liverpool had a total of 13 against Arsenal (per Whoscored) and Wilson accounted for a massive five of those.
To put that into perspective, no one else either for Liverpool or Arsenal managed more than two. In fact, the entirety of Mikel Arteta’s team – including substitutes – only managed to clock up five in total. Wilson’s creativity alone was able to match the entire Arsenal squad.
Even following the high-octane, pulsating 3-1 triumph on Monday, Liverpool collectively managed just 15 key passes – with no player individually contributing more than three.
Five is a huge number of key passes in one game, then. In fact, it’s a shame Wilson didn’t end up with an assist, given how many chances he created.
Wilson’s performance certainly didn’t go under the radar of his manager Klopp, who drew praise from the Welshman’s first Liverpool bout since his debut in the FA Cup against Plymouth Argyle back in January 2017.
He said: “Harry Wilson, my God, played in centre-mid more or less in position No.8, defended well and I saw his football skills as well. I liked a lot of parts of the game but we lost in the end and that’s the part I don’t like.”
It’s worth noting that Shaqiri’s expected Anfield departure does present a clearer pathway into the first team for Wilson and there is a growing possibility that he could still stay at the club beyond the approaching transfer deadline on Monday.
With Burnley failing to improve their bid, sporting director Michael Edwards and Klopp had no concerns about throwing him at the deep end action against Arsenal. In fact, if Shaqiri leaves, then Liverpool will be more inclined to keep hold of Wilson as cover.
Wilson, like Shaqiri, is a proven Premier League performer following his spell with AFC Bournemouth last season. He scored seven goals in the English top-flight last season while also contributed an assist. With that said, if Shaqiri is offloaded for a sizeable fee, it could become of more value for Klopp to keep hold of Wilson.
After all, five key passes does suggest he has the potential to become more creative. It’s only one game, of course, but he’s clearly a player who can add some creative flair to Liverpool’s attacking armoury.
Edwards is expected to remain a busy figure during the final few days of the transfer window but the message was clear from Klopp following his selection decisions against Arsenal – Liverpool are in no rush to sell and will not be drawn into a fire sale.