The ink had barely dried on Harry Wilson’s new five year contract when reports emerged of Liverpool opening talks with Stoke City over the signing of Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri.
The arrival of Shaqiri would severely restrict any first team opportunities Wilson might have had this season, so it’s safe to assume the young Welshman was fully aware of it before he signed a new deal and that a plan is in place for his future development. That plan almost certainly involves another season away from Merseyside.
Virtually the entire Championship have enquired about taking him on loan, while both Celtic and Rangers would like him to be playing his football in Glasgow this season. There are no shortage of suitors.
Supporters may prefer to see him at a Premier League club to test himself at the top level but that could be counter-productive. Wilson’s development would be better served playing in a good attacking side that goes out to win every week. It’s all well and good wanting him to go to Huddersfield or Newcastle but it would be pointless if he wasn’t playing regularly or if he spent most of his time having to defend because the team were battling relegation.
Wilson was a revelation at Hull City last season. A good barometer of a successful loan is to ask: if this player wasn’t already at your club, would you be interested in signing him?
For most of Liverpool’s loanees over recent years the answer to that is a resounding “no”. Would the Reds be in for Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge based on what they did on loan? Or Ryan Kent or Sheyi Ojo? Wilson was the exception. He lit up the Championship last season and another year of the same could see him returning to Anfield ready to take up a permanent spot in Klopp’s match day squad.
He’s looked impressive so far in pre-season and scored twice at Chester last weekend. It would make sense for Klopp to keep him around for a few more weeks to further assess him (and to ensure there are no hitches with the Shaqiri deal) before sanctioning any loan move.
All things considered though, signing Shaqiri is a no brainer for Liverpool. Wilson isn’t yet at the level of the experienced Swiss and it would have been a risk going into the season with him as the main alternative to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Even Wilson’s biggest supporters cannot say for sure that he would be capable of playing 25 games at the required level this year. Shaqiri should be able to provide quality back up at the very least and, who knows, perhaps even serious competition.
There is risk in every signing and Shaqiri is no different, but a reported £13m release clause in his Stoke contract makes a deal for him almost too good to turn down, especially financially. Liverpool’s bean counters will certainly be rubbing their hands over this one but it also appeals on a football level too.
From a business perspective, even if Shaqiri were to flop his price is so low that Liverpool would still make money on him in a year, and by that time Wilson would have had another full season under his belt to prepare himself for the step up to Liverpool’s first team.
If Shaqiri is a success, his value would skyrocket given the way transfer fees are rising each year. Liverpool could easily double or triple their money on him if they wanted to move him on and bring Wilson through. And there’s no reason to think Shaqiri wouldn’t perform well as he’s a quality player.