It is rare to see a young striker make such an impact during their debut season in professional football, whilst also doing so in one of England’s toughest leagues.
But that is exactly what Rhian Brewster has done during his short stint in South Wales with Swansea City.
With the fire power that Liverpool possess up front, it was recognised that the 20-year-old was unlikely to compete for a place in the starting eleven in the 2019/20. Therefore, the club organised a loan move away from Anfield for the Englishman.
The recently successful loan moves of Harry Wilson at Derby, Marko Grujić at Hertha Berlin and Ryan Kent at Rangers showed the importance of finding a deal that would be beneficial for both the club and the player himself.
Whilst the interest was huge amongst a number of top Championship clubs, it was Swansea who emerged victorious in the race for his signature, largely down to the pre-existing relationship between Brewster and their manager Steve Cooper.
In 2017, Brewster was part of Cooper’s World Cup-winning u17 side, whilst also receiving the golden boot for his eight goals during the tournament.Embed from Getty Images
The 40-year-old is also no stranger to Merseyside having been appointed as a youth coach at Melwood, initially taking charge of the u12s back in 2008. Three years later, Cooper was named as the manager of Liverpool’s academy, overseeing some of the Premier League’s brightest young talent — Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold are the stand-out graduates from Cooper’s tenure.
Since signing in January, Brewster has scored four times in 11 games for Swansea and has produced some excellent performances which show he has the potential to play at the highest level.
His performances have not gone unnoticed, with Jürgen Klopp keeping a close eye on the youngster. This may benefit Brewster next season, albeit with the help the Reds’ decision not to splash out on Timo Werner.
Less than three weeks ago, Werner’s heart was reportedly set on playing in the red of Liverpool. The manager had won him over, making clear his admiration and convincing him over the several meetings that Anfield would be the best fit for the striker. The moved seemed all but inevitable.Embed from Getty Images
Fast forward to a couple of days ago, the 24-year-old is now set to join Chelsea after the Reds decline to stump up the £53million wanted by RB Leipzig, after choosing to be more cautious with money due to the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst this may seem a negative — we all wanted to see a player of Werner’s calibre wear the famous red shirt — for Brewster this could be the chance to establish himself for the soon-to-be champions of England, should he return from his loan spell at the end of the season and seek to secure a regular place in the matchday squad.
While such talk subsided as interest in Werner mounted, Brewster still has a number of players to navigate past should he want to become a regular in the starting eleven. His predicament is similar to that of Harry Wilson, Curtis Jones and, most recently, Harvey Elliott.
Many believe that missing out on Werner may come back to haunt Klopp come the return of the new season. In recent years the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino have been untouchable, with only Divock Origi making regular appearances from the start should any of them be absent.
The trio scored 87 goals and assisted 36 times during their maiden season together, followed by 69 goals and 19 assists during the 2018/19 campaign.Embed from Getty Images
However, many fear that there is a significant gap in quality when you look beyond the front three — a fair observation.
When you compare the statistics between Werner and Liverpool’s back-up strikers, it is clear to see why Klopp was keen on bolstering his forward options and try to bridge the gap. This season, the likes of Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino have only contributed four goals and one assist between them, whilst Werner can boast more than 45 goal contributions.
Although this may be an unfair comparison, there is no denying that the gap in quality from Liverpool’s regular front three compared to the backups is more of a chasm than a crack. The task of closing that gap may soon fall on to the shoulders of Brewster.
Liverpool are currently trying to strike that fine balance of ensuring that the Englishmen plays as many games as possible at a young age, whilst also being exposed to top-level football week in, week out. Therefore, another year of playing in the Championship with Swansea could be priceless in furthering his development and instigating that golden touch he has shown during his time in the academy.Embed from Getty Images
In previous years, these types of loan moves have proven to be very successful for young English players looking to play regular first team football. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Eddie Nketiah have all dropped down to the Championship and played arguably some of their best football in their professional careers, resulting in regular appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea’s first teams respectively once they had returned to their parent clubs.
Time remains on Brewster’s side, but many fear he may suffer similar fates to that of Dominic Solanke and Jordon Ibe, not given a chance at their parent clubs and shipped out to mid-table Premier League outfits.
Only time will tell, but the future is in his hands. With the guidance under Cooper, someone who knows him very well, it’s may be only a matter of time before Brewster’s name is being sung from the terraces of the Kop.
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