Liverpool are set to bring Ben Woodburn's season-long loan at Sheffield United to a premature end, with the club ready to take their time before making a decision over the future of the teenager.
The 19-year-old has returned to Liverpool following an unsuccessful loan spell with the Championship side. Woodburn was brought back to Melwood last month for treatment on an ankle injury, having not featured for the Blades since a 10-minute substitute appearance against Nottingham Forest on November 3.
Liverpool have not formally announced the end of the Wales international’s season-long loan at Bramall Lane, but he will not be returning to Yorkshire. Sheffield United have already signed Kieran Dowell, the England under-20 World Cup winner, from Everton as his replacement.
Now, the question is what Liverpool see as the attacking midfielder’s best option. He remains, despite a difficult 12 months, very highly thought of by Jurgen Klopp and his staff, who are keen to see his development kick on.
Woodburn is expected back in full training next week, and Liverpool have already fielded enquiries from a host of Championship clubs, including Blackburn Rovers, Brentford and Hull City, as to his recovery. They will not be short of loan offers, should they decide to go down that route.
The player himself is understood to be frustrated at his inability to break into the first-team at Sheffield United, where he made just two starts and eight appearances in total.
Despite this, he remains a part of the senior Wales setup under Ryan Giggs, winning nine caps so far.
Liverpool have had mixed fortunes with their loan moves this season, with the likes of Harry Wilson (Derby County), Herbie Kane (Doncaster Rovers) and Ryan Kent (Rangers) all enjoying positive spells. For others, such as Allan Rodrigues de Souza (Eintracht Frankfurt), Taiwo Awoniyi (Gent) and Ovie Ejaria (Rangers), the story has been less enjoyable. Ejaria was this week sent to Reading for his second loan spell of the campaign.
Woodburn became the youngest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history when netting in the League Cup against Leeds United in November 2016, aged just 17 years and 45 days. He has made 11 senior appearances in total, the last of which came as a late substitute against Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day of last season.
The Reds are still considering a loan offer from Sporting CP for young winger Rafa Camacho, who made his senior debut in Monday’s FA Cup third round defeat at Wolves. Curtis Jones, who also made his bow in that game, has been the subject of an offer from League One.
Liverpool have already loaned out Nathaniel Clyne to Bournemouth, who paid £19 million to sign striker Dominic Solanke on a permanent basis. The Reds are not expecting to do any business this month in terms of incomings.