Harry Wilson really does split Liverpool’s fan base. There are those who feel the youngster deserves his chance this season after a lengthy and patient apprenticeship at the club.
On the other hand, there are more pragmatic supporters who believe the club should not be pinning their hopes on a 22-year-old, who is yet to kick a ball in the top flight of English football.
Football supporters often exist in a world of polar opposites such as these; the lad is either a great talent who should get a chance or a simply not good enough for a top club. And yet, as often is the case, there is a middle ground. And it is in this hinterland, neglected by so many supporters, that Wilson may be able to make something a Liverpool career for himself.
Indeed, when looking at Liverpool’s forthcoming campaign, the case for fighting the temptation to cash in on the young star, becomes all the more clear and obvious.
Whatever their reasons, the club’s decision to abstain from any major transfer activity in this window has meant they have not strengthened their squad.
This is hardly a crisis though, despite the social media meltdown and wave of childish, knee-jerk tweets. A glut of major signings since August 2017, has seen Jurgen Klopp’s squad emerge as one of the most formidable in European football and the German is on record as saying that this group of players is the best he has ever worked with during his managerial career.
However, a lack of genuine new first-team options arriving this summer means those same top players have a considerable burden on legs which have already absorbed some hard yards.
The celebrated front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino clocked up an eye-watering, combined 150 matches in 2018/19. On top of that, each of them was heavily involved in their nation’s international commitments this summer, meaning their summer break was virtually non-existent.
Spreading to midfield and the situation is similar. A heavy toll on midfield legs in the forthcoming season is not ideal, given the injury track-records of Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, and Adam Lallana.
Rotation will be critical in navigating that talented but delicate quartet through a busy and demanding campaign.
Even if Liverpool fall at the first hurdle in each of the cup competitions this season, they will still face a daunting 50 matches in 2019/20. If they are to get through this daunting onslaught of congested fixtures and remain competitive, they will need depth as well as that aforementioned rotation. Which is where Mr. Wilson comes in.
While the Welshman may not be coming into this season with experience of football at the highest level, that does not mean he cannot play a role for Liverpool during their campaign.
He should not be short on confidence either. His 17 goals for Derby County last season were crucial for the Rams’ push for the playoffs and he won praise for his influence and match-winning ability from midfield. He has also been working away becoming a regular in Ryan Giggs’ Welsh national team set up.
Wilson has the ability to break the lines from either a central or wide position. His first touch is neat and he possesses wonderful skill with the ball at his feet, as well as his constant set-piece threat. There is certainly room for those attributes at Liverpool this season.
He could be a perfect option to come in and offer quality cover in the cup competitions, as well as offering a break for some of Klopp’s creative first-team options, should fatigue strike this season.
While he is nowhere near the right option to be starting in key fixtures at the top of the table; he could clock up some vital experience in the first team, even if this is as a minor squad player.
Klopp stated that he was very pleased with his player in pre-season, having used Wilson in all of Liverpool’s seven warm-up fixtures.
An eye-catching strike from 30 yards in their recent 3-1 victory over Lyon, also served as further evidence of the youngster’s increasing confidence in the famous red shirt, as did a well-struck penalty against Borussia Dortmund.
Whether he has done enough to forge a role for himself this season remains to be seen. There have also been a number of Premier League clubs credited with an interest in the player, with Bournemouth thought to be very keen on securing his services at the Vitality Stadium.
Liverpool are reported to be willing to sell, if a club can meet their £25 million valuation of the Wales midfielder. If the club does opt to cash in on their talented youngster, then it will come as a bitter blow to the supporters who are so very excited at seeing Wilson come through the ranks.
While it may be also be viewed as a shrewd act of cold pragmatism by some, the club must be careful that they are not leaving themselves short of a valuable option going into the new season.