Over the years, Liverpool have let go of a number of promising young players who hadn’t made the grade at the club but have since forged brilliant careers, including Wolves captain Conor Coady and Lazio playmaker Luis Alberto.
However, while it’s not that often that they make a mistake when selling or releasing a young talent, one recent example is Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi, who signed for Union Berlin permanently last summer for £6.5m after spending the previous six seasons on loan as the club struggled to get a work permit for him.
The club were finally granted a work permit in May last year in order to open up the possibility for English clubs to acquire his playing services, but he returned to the German club, for whom he recorded eight goal contributions in 21 Bundesliga appearances last season.
Having played just one match more so far this term, Awoniyi has well and truly bettered his previous tally, scoring ten goals in Germany’s top flight and another five in all competitions, along with setting up four more in total.
With an impressive scoring frequency of one Bundesliga goal every 151 minutes, working out at 0.5 per game, he is the team’s top scorer this season so far, as well as the joint-seventh best in the league.
Among strikers in Europe’s top five leagues and continental competitions, Awoniyi ranks in the top 9% for non-penalty expected goals per 90 (0.58). Most impressively, he ranks in the top 3% for successful pressure percentage per 90 (32.1%), a statistic over which Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be kicking himself due to his favoured high-tempo pressing style of play.
Due to Awoniyi’s impressive form, the 24-year-old’s market valuation has risen to £13.5m – a 131% increase on the fee for which he was sold by Liverpool, which will surely leave the Anfield board rathet frustrated.
With Divock Origi’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the Nigerian has also proved himself to be a top-quality striker, and his goal record suggests that he would have been capable of playing in the Premier League and deputising for the likes of Roberto Firmino beyond the Belgian’s departure from the club.
Instead, his exit will go down as a rare howler from Klopp during his spell in charge of Liverpool.
In other news: LFC are ready to sign £46m-rated “fearless” gem; could be replacement for Anfield star
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