While Liverpool intend to take a look at Harry Wilson this summer, and are still pondering what to do about Ryan Kent, fellow winger Sheyi Ojo has not been afforded the same courtesy.

The one-time England Under-21s international was pictured at Rangers’ training ground as Steven Gerrard’s side reported back for pre-season training and is on the verge of completing a loan move to Ibrox.

Once one of the Reds’ most highly-rated starlets, he has never been further away from Jurgen Klopp’s first team squad.

Having fought to sign Raheem Sterling from Queens Park Rangers in February 2010, there was similar hype surrounding the then-14-year-old Ojo when Liverpool won the race for his signature from MK Dons back in November 2011.

Raheem Sterling, Jordan Williams, Adam Lallan, Sheyi Ojo, Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique
Raheem Sterling, Jordan Williams, Adam Lallan, Sheyi Ojo, Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique

Early reports from the Academy were promising.

While Wilson might have been the first of the three to gain widespread recognition when he became Wales’ youngest ever debutant in October 2013, it was Ojo who sampled first-team football with the Reds’ first, featuring as an unused substitute for Premier League meetings with Burnley and Leicester City over the 2014/15 season festive period.

He also enjoyed his first taste of senior football ahead of the rest, going on loan to Wigan Athletic during the second half of the season. Making 11 appearances for the Latics, he was unable to save them from relegation to the Championship.

Ojo, Wilson and Kent were all named in Brendan Rodgers’ 30-man travelling squad for Liverpool’s tour of Thailand, Australia and Malaysia ahead of the 2015/16 campaign.

And again, it was Ojo who made the biggest impact on the Reds’ pre-season preparations, scoring the winner in their final friendly away at Swindon Town.

Sheyi Ojo of Liverpool scoring the second
Sheyi Ojo of Liverpool scoring the second

All three players were then sent out on loan by Rodgers as Ojo was snapped up by Wolverhampton Wanderers while Kent and Wilson sampled League One football with Coventry City and Crewe Alexandra respectively.

All three were then recalled by Klopp over the festive period following varying success, Ojo and Kent impressing in patches while Wilson ultimately struggled.

The former duo were both rewarded with first team debuts by the German soon after as he named a much-changed side for Liverpool’s FA Cup third round clash with Exeter City.

Kent started at St James Park while Ojo was introduced as a second-half substitute, setting up Brad Smith’s equaliser within minutes of coming on, as the Reds fought out a 2-2 draw before both were named on the bench for the replay at Anfield.

While Ojo joined the action and scored his first professional goal in a 3-0 win, Kent was left unused and has not been featured for Liverpool in a competitive game since.

Sheyi Ojo of Liverpool is congratulated after his goal during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay between Liverpool and Exeter City at Anfield on January 20, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Sheyi Ojo of Liverpool is congratulated after his goal during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay between Liverpool and Exeter City at Anfield on January 20, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

In contrast, Ojo featured sporadically for the rest of the season as Klopp guided the Reds to the League Cup and Europa League Finals.

An unused substitute in famous European victories over Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund, he finished the season with 11 appearances for the club in all competitions.

Handed a Premier League debut away at Southampton, he marked his first start with an assist in Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over Stoke City.

Further starts against AFC Bournemouth, Swansea City, Watford and West Bromwich Albion followed, as did assists against the Swans and the Hornets.

Kept with the Reds first team for Klopp’s first pre-season, Ojo’s stock hadn’t been higher. Surely 2016/17 would be his year?

Sheyi Ojo controls the ball in front of Mohamed Salah of AS Roma during a pre-season friendly at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

However, the winger fractured his back in the process of scoring in a pre-season friendly defeat to AS Roma, future Red Mohamed Salah scoring the winner, and was sidelined until November as a result.

Meanwhile, Kent was enjoying his first taste of Championship football on loan at Barnsley while Wilson was thriving at Under-23s level, scoring goals galore having been named captain.

Ojo made his return against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup the following January, starting in a 0-0 draw at Anfield before coming off the bench alongside Wilson at Home Park as the Welshman made a belated senior debut for the club.

None of the trio have played competitively for the club since.

Injury continued to plague Ojo as he spent the 2017/18 season on loan at Fulham.

Fresh from winning the Under-20s World Cup with England, he made 24 appearances as the Cottagers won promotion to the Premier League but missed out on their play-off run as a result.

After impressing in pre-season, shining against Bavarian giants Bayern Munich in particular, Kent joined SC Freiburg on loan but struggled in Germany before an equally uninspiring stint with Bristol City.

As for Wilson, injury prevented him staking a claim in pre-season but he fought his way back to fitness and spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Hull City. The forward would claim an impressive seven goals from 14 appearances to guide the Tigers away from relegation.

Come 2018/19, all three scored in pre-season before once again going out on loan, Wilson and Kent getting on the scoresheet against Chester and Ojo netting against Tranmere Rovers and Manchester United.

But while Wilson and Kent shone at Derby County and Rangers respectively, Ojo struggled in France with Stade Reims.

 

Wilson fired 18 goals from 49 appearances for the Rams as they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League, losing in the Play-Off final to Aston Villa.

Kent made 43 appearances in all competitions, scoring six goals, as his performances saw him pick up the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year.

In contrast, Ojo made just three Ligue 1 starts for Reims as he found first team opportunities hard to come by.

Jurgen Klopp with Sheyi Ojo (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

All three face an uphill battle to force their way into Klopp’s first team plans in truth, such has been Liverpool’s rise during their respective loan spells away.

Arguably the most talented of the trio, Ojo was the one who made the most impact on the Reds’ first team. However, he is also the one to have made the least impact out on loan.

 

Now set to play under Reds legend Gerrard, 2019/20 is set to be a huge season for the winger and his long-term future having ultimately lost his way after injury. A sliding doors moment if ever there was one.

Should all three fail to make the grade at Anfield, it is Ojo who would feel like the biggest missed opportunity and leave behind the most unanswered questions, forever wondering what might have been.

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