Ben Woodburn is already a record-breaker at Liverpool.
When he scored against Leeds United in November 2016, he became the youngest-ever Reds goalscorer, a record that had been previously held by Michael Owen. During the 2016/17 campaign, he would make nine more appearances for the club as he looked to break into the first team on a regular basis, and he even scored on his debut for Wales. At the time, it looked as though the sky was the limit.
However, he has not quite progressed at the rate many will have expected. Since that initial season, he has made just two more appearances for the Anfield outfit, instead finding himself shipped out on loan or back with the youth sides. He spent half of the 2018/19 season with Sheffield United and, although the Blades were promoted, he failed to score or assist in eight matches. This season, he has moved even further down the footballing pyramid, featuring for Oxford United in League One.
The good news is that he is expected to return to the action this week, although he has already lost a significant amount of a campaign that was meant to aid his development.
And the next few months could define the 20-year-old’s career. Whilst he may have once been the jewel in Liverpool’s academy crown, the performances of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, for example, have made him a somewhat forgotten figure.
There is now no guarantee that he has any kind of future on Merseyside and, given the Reds have a 22-point lead at the top of Premier League, there is no indication there is a chance of a place in Jurgen Klopp’s squad either.
A good run of form from the youngster, though, will at the very least give the former Borussia Dortmund boss something to think about as he plans for next season. Even if he doesn’t break into the side at Liverpool, a loan move to a Premier League team could be on the cards.
However, if he fails to impress, it leaves him in no-man’s land. And if, upon approaching 21, he is unable to stand out in the third tier, what hope does he have of being a top-flight regular in the near future?