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10/10, 6/10: Grading 3 Liverpool loan stars as they return to Anfield

Three Liverpool loan stars returned this week after playing the final games of the Championship season. Let’s have a look at how they got on.

Sheyi Ojo – 8/10

This was undoubtedly the best season of Ojo’s career. Liverpool sent him to Cardiff City for the campaign and he’s delivered beyond expectations.

Ojo started 25 games in the Championship, with another 16 coming off the bench. That all led to five goals and seven assists – both career highs for the 23-year-old.

And you’ve got to put this into context. Ojo hadn’t played regular senior football for two years before this campaign. He had a disastrous season at Stade Reims back in 18/19 and followed that up with a failed spell at Rangers in 19/20.

Ojo’s stock was at a real low before this season but he’s proven his quality at Championship level. While he couldn’t see a decent future for him before, there’s undoubtedly a chance now.

Certainly, that won’t be at Liverpool. But this loan spell has transformed Ojo’s reputation from a failure to a real prospect. If the Reds want to sell this summer, they’ll undoubtedly find a buyer. We’re not sure that was true a year ago.

Harry Wilson – 6/10

Wilson had a better season than Ojo but this is why context is important. Whereas Ojo needed to prove himself, Wilson was supposed to go down to the Championship and thrive.

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After all, he’s a regular international with Wales and played a season of Premier League football last term. Per the Liverpool Echo, the Reds valued Wilson at £20m before this season.

The hope, then, was that he’d have a storming season in the second tier, proving that value correct. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite do that.

Wilson did have a good season, though. He scored seven times and created another 11 – joint-third in the Championship for assists, in fact. But most of that came in the second half of the season.

Wilson had five goals and seven assists for Cardiff since January 30th. This wasn’t a season of sustained form. Now, that successful period did come directly after Mick McCarthy took over and we can imagine that Wilson may have maintained those numbers over a full season under the 62-year-old.

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Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure. That uncertainty means Wilson’s value has almost certainly dropped, too. The Echo’s Paul Gorst feels Liverpool would now accept between £10m and £15m for the player.

We can’t call this loan spell a disaster or even a bad one – Wilson played reasonably well. But Liverpool did fail to get what they wanted as the Welshman didn’t prove himself to be one of the league’s best.

He’ll almost certainly leave this summer, just not for the money Liverpool hoped for.

Harvey Elliott – 10/10

Couldn’t have gone better. Liverpool took a major gamble with Elliott this season but it paid off in spades as he was the standout of the loan stars.

They sent him to middling Blackburn Rovers, a side that wasn’t expected to achieve all that much. There was no fear of relegation but Liverpool weren’t sending him to a title contender.

That’s a risk for any 17-year-old. Elliott was/is so young that he shouldn’t necessarily be playing senior football, let alone at a brand new club that isn’t all that good. Yet Blackburn put their faith in the teenager and helped to develop him incredibly well.

Elliott finished his debut senior season with 31 Championship starts and 10 games off the bench. Over those games, he scored seven and assisted another 11.

That matches Wilson’s figures – a player who is six years older and has a year of Premier League experience. That’s absolutely remarkable. We can’t think of another player who has performed quite like this at such a young age.

We’re not sure what Liverpool plan for Elliott next but it’s clear he’s ready for just about anything. Maybe it’s another loan, maybe it’s a spot in the first-team squad.

Whatever it is, Elliott now looks destined to become a star.

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