After sorting out their incomings, Liverpool’s attention turns to outgoings during the final days of the summer transfer window.
The arrivals of Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota, confirmed earlier this month, mean the Premier League champions have a squad which looks, on paper at least, capable of challenging on all fronts this season.
That much was evident on Thursday night, when a much-changed team smashed seven past Lincoln City, early pacesetters in League One, in the Carabao Cup.
There was a time when the idea of Jurgen Klopp making 10 changes to his line-up, leaving the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson at home, would have filled supporters with dread. Depth has rarely been the Reds’ strong point.
Liverpool 2020 look different, though. The form of Klopp’s support cast – Takumi Minamino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Curtis Jones, Kostas Tsimikas, Harvey Elliott – provides plenty of encouragement.
Throw in a debut for Jota and a first appearance for teenage defender Rhys Williams, and it was a good night all round.
Suddenly Liverpool have at least two players for every position – with the exception of centre-back, where injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have limited Klopp’s options at the start of the campaign. Competition is growing, even if we can probably guess at least nine of the starting XI for Monday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.
What it means, then, is that there could be a fair amount of talent leaving Anfield before the window closes on October 5.
Hoever, signed from Ajax in 2018, became the third-youngest debutant in Reds history when appearing against Wolves in the FA Cup in January 2019, aged just 16 years and 354 days. He is the club’s fourth-youngest scorer, too, netting against MK Dons in the Carabao Cup last September.
Now, though, he is gone, Liverpool having decided that Neco Williams, the Welsh international, can be understudy to Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and that Billy Koumetio, even at 17, has the potential to become fourth-choice centre-back.
Hoever was rated at Anfield, and still is, but he had entered the final two years of his Reds contract and the club found it increasingly difficult to answer his questions about exactly when, and exactly where, he was likely to feature in the first-team. It was decided his development would be better served at Wolves, whose 3-4-3 system should suit the 18-year-old to a tee.
Rhian Brewster could be next to head to the exit door. The 21-year-old striker was not involved at all at Lincoln, with both Sheffield United and Crystal Palace keen on signing him on a permanent basis. “Make of it what you want,” Klopp told a press conference at Melwood on Friday. So far, he has refused to discuss the youngster’s future.
Brewster’s dilemma is similar to Hoever’s. He is a gifted player with a lot of fans within the club, but a lot of obstacles in his way. Roberto Firmino is the Reds’ No.9, while Minamino is emerging as a more-than-capable back-up. The signing of Jota, and the presence of Divock Origi, mean opportunities will be further limited.
Brewster did superbly on loan at Swansea last season, scoring 11 times in 22 appearances to help the Welsh side reach the Championship play-offs, and at the start of the summer it was expected that he would be loaned again, this time to a Premier League club. Aston Villa, Brighton and Newcastle were among those keenest.
Liverpool’s stance has shifted since. Sources now insist a loan would not be in the best interests of the club or the player, and it is understood that a bid in excess of £20m ($26m) would be enough to land the England U-21 international.
Palace are interested, though chairman Steve Parish moved quickly to refute claims that a bid worth £25m ($32m) had been submitted this week. The Eagles have already signed Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea for the season.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, meanwhile, has confirmed the Blades’ interest, and has held talks with opposite number Klopp. The question for Wilder, it appears, is one of finance.
Liverpool would insist on a buy-back clause in any deal for Brewster, giving them first option to bring him back to Merseyside should he catch fire elsewhere. They believe he is a Premier League-level striker.
And what of Harry Wilson? An unused substitute at Lincoln, the Welshman would have set an Anfield record had he emerged from the bench, making his second competitive appearance for the club more than four-and-a-half years after his first.
Wilson, like Brewster, has enhanced his reputation out on loan, first with Hull, then at Derby and finally, last season, down at Bournemouth, where he scored seven goals in 35 appearances.
At 23, and an established international with Wales, the winger accepts the time has come to move. Like with Brewster - and also Marko Grujic, who played and scored at Lincoln – Liverpool feel another loan is pointless, though their asking price has so far been seen by suitors as prohibitive.
Burnley opened informal talks over Wilson this week, but are understood to want to pay no more than £15m ($19m). Liverpool value him higher, believing he proved himself in the top-flight last season.
Others are keen. Leicester expressed an interest last season, while Newcastle, Brighton, Fulham and Leeds have all enquired. Wilson’s set-piece prowess, and his ability to accumulate goals and assists, make him a valuable option. He is also a rock-solid character, a good trainer and someone Liverpool believe has further potential for development, perhaps in a more central role if needed.
It is likely that a deal will be found in the coming days, as it will with Brewster. For all their talent, neither has made a Premier League appearance for Liverpool yet, and it would be unfair to expect either to hang around hoping for an injury crisis or a sudden change of heart from Klopp.
Grujic will also be sold if a suitable offer is received, though the Serbian midfielder did nothing but impress at Lincoln, and has previously expressed his desire to fight for a place at Anfield.
Others will head out on loan. Ben Woodburn, the youngest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history, is expected to join Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam – though he also has interest from League One – while Canada international Liam Millar and Poland U-21 goalkeeper Kamil Grabara should also depart.
It would be a surprise if Nat Phillips was still at the club next month, also, with Nottingham Forest in particular eager to sign the centre-back. Loris Karius, the forgotten man, is another in the shop window, though serious takers for the German are yet to emerge at this stage.
It promises to be a busy fortnight, then. And for Brewster and Wilson, it will be a crucial one.
Their next step could be the most important of their career.