The 2019/2020 season has seen the end of two of the most unwanted records in English football.
Finally, after what felt like an interminable wait, Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league championship by romping home to the Premier League title. And Leeds, who have spent 16 years in the relative wilderness of the lower divisions of the English league pyramid, finally sealed their passage back to the promised land with a 1-0 win over Barnsley rubberstamping their promotion.
Under the tutelage of legendary Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, The Whites have played a high intensity, pressing style of football, not dissimilar to the tactical blueprint favoured by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.
The similarities between the strategies employed by Klopp and Bielsa would make Elland Road an idyllic loan destination for young players at Anfield. Playing under the former Argentinian national team coach, nicknamed El Loco — who demands tactical intelligence, the fitness to carry out an intense game-plan and the versatility to cover several on-pitch roles of his players — would let any loanee receive world-class levels of coaching, sharpening abilities that would be transferable to the Reds’ team, all while playing the necessary amount of games to improve.
Since Leeds’ Championship title victory has been confirmed, they have already been linked with a young Liverpool player in the shape of Yasser Larouci. The French Algerian winger/full-back, who has made only two first-team appearances in Red, is reportedly looking to move to pastures new after accepting that he will not dislodge Andy Robertson in the first choice left-back slot at Anfield.
The 19-year-old has subsequently been reported as a potential target for Leeds, and a switch to Yorkshire — even on a permanent basis — could make sense for all parties. A recurring feature of several of the recent sales of young Liverpool players has been the inclusion of a buy-back clause. Sergi Canos, Jordon Ibe, and Rafael Camacho, who joined Brentford, Bournemouth and Sporting Lisbon respectively, have buy-back clauses in their contracts which would allow the Reds to buy them back for an already determined fee in the future.
The Anfield club could take a similar stance on Larouci even if, like Canos, Ibe and Camacho, there is justified doubts about his capability to make the grade with the World, English and European Champions. The fact that Neco Williams, who, similarly, is a former winger learning to play full-back on the fly, was picked at left-back — a position he had never previously played — over the Algerian youth international in the recent victory away to Brighton was telling.
There is, however, no perfect science to assessing players and how they may develop in the future and with a buy-back clause, Liverpool leave themselves the room to correct their mistake if Larouci goes on to surprise them by improving significantly under the coaching of Bielsa.
Rhian Brewster, currently impressing on loan in the Championship with Swansea City, is another player who could benefit from a switch to Elland Road, although on a temporary basis with the young striker better equipped than Larouci to eke out a future career with Liverpool.
The England youth international has taken to his first extended run in adult football like a duck to water, scoring nine goals in 19 appearances — a figure that makes him the joint highest scorer in the division, along with Said Benrahma, in the time since his temporary switch to Wales — during his ongoing loan spell.
The 20-year-old could benefit from a loan to a Premier League team and there are few teams in the division that would offer the same package as Leeds, where Brewster would receive a high level of coaching from Bielsa — a coach described by Pep Guardiola, no less, as “the best coach in the world” — and regular, attacking, pressing football in the talent moulding forge of top-level football.
The Reds scouts have watched Ben White — a Brighton owned centre half on loan at Leeds all season — extensively and there is clearly an admiration for the style of football played by The Whites in the corridors of power at Anfield. And, looking to the future, Elland Road could be a venue attended regularly by the Liverpool talent spotters, to keep an eye on their own players.