As we near the end of May, many Premier League clubs will announce the players who will be departing the club when their respective contracts run out on 1st June, and this is no different for Liverpool as they have released seven players with many more still fighting for their place in the side.
The Reds released one goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders and two strikers as manager Brendan Rodgers looks set to remove the ‘deadwood’ in his squad.
The goalkeeper released was Yusuf Mersin. Mersin was a promising Turkish shot-stopper when he arrived at Kirkby from Millwall in January 2011 for a reported £1m. The 19 year old had represented his country at Under 16 and Under 17 level, but struggled to make appearances for the Under 21s this season, as Danny Ward and then trialist Lawrence Vigouroux were above him in the pecking order. The towering ‘keeper, who is almost two metres in height made 7 appearances this season between the posts for Liverpool, conceding 9 goals. It is unclear where Mersin will go from here, but everyone here at TheNextGenKopites wish him all the best in the future.
The defenders released were central defender turned right-back Stephen Sama and centre back Jakub Sokolik. Cameron-born Sama moved to Liverpool from German side Borussia Dortmund in June 2009 and progressed well through the Academy and into the Under 21s. Sama even went on Brendan Rodgers’ first pre-season tour as a Liverpool manager in the summer of 2012. The 21 year old even broke into the first team squad on a few occasions but didn’t make his full debut. It seemed that Sama was surplus to requirements following the signing of Real Madrid’s Rafael Paez and the rise of form of England Under 19 centre half Lloyd Jones. It is likely that Sama will join German side VFL Bochum, who compete in the second tier of German football. Interestingly, Sama has already featured of VFL Bochum when he was a youngster before joining Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer in the summer of 2007. Sama made 8 appearances for the Under 21s this season, getting one assist.
The next defender released was Czech Republic centre-half Jakub Sokolik. Sokolik arrived at Liverpool from Czech Republic side Banik Ostrava in the 2009-10 season. Since then he progressed all the way through to Under 21 level, but couldn’t leap over the final hurdle and repeat what Vladimir Smicer, Milan Baros and Patrik Berger did and play for the first team. Sokolik represented Czech Republic at Under 16 through to Under 19 level and looked promising. In March 2014, Sokolik joined League Two side Southend United and helped Phil Brown’s side reach the play-offs but unfortunately were beat by Burton Albion in the semi-finals. Overall, Sokolik made 12 appearances for Southend in his two months with the club and it looks likely that he will head there on a permanent basis after impressing. However, there may be interest from League One clubs and maybe even a few League Two sides because of the impact he made at Southend.
The two midfielders that were released were Yalany Baio and Craig Roddan.
Baio played a major part of the FA Youth Cup campaign in 2012/13, but since Jordan Rossiter and now Pedro Chirivella look set to occupy the defensive midfield positions over the next few years, Baio was out the team and out of favour by manager Alex Inglethorpe, as he only made a handful of substitute appearances. The defensive midfielder, originally from Guinea-Bissau played just 25 minutes all season so it was the right decision to let him go. The 19 year old had had trials with Huddlesfield and Sheffield Wednesday but is unclear where he will go from Liverpool.
The next midfielder released was Craig Roddan. Roddan was a solid defensive midfielder with very good passing abilities. He was an under-rated player when playing for the Reds and looked like a solid fixture in the Under 21s this season, but his age was a problem as it is very rare nowadays to see a 21 year old competing at Under 21 level. He was loaned out to Carlisle United and then Accrington Stanley, but failed to make an impact at both clubs as he made a total of 1 appearance between the two loan spells. He did though play 6 games for the Under 21s this season, scoring once. Like with Baio, it is unclear where Roddan will go after his two loans didn’t go to plan.
The two strikers that were released were Villyan Bijev and Michael Ngoo. Bijev is a 21 year old forward who has represented both the USA and Bulgaria at youth level. After joining the Reds in July 2011, Bijev had two loan spells, first at German side Dusseldorf and then with Norwegian side Start. In his seven appearances this season, Bijev has scored one goal and assisted another. Bijev had work permit issues but his most memorable moment in his short career was when he scored against Arsenal at Underhill in May 2013 to secure the point Liverpool needed to qualify for the Under 21s Elite Group. Again, it is unclear where Bijev will go from Liverpool.
The final player released was towering forward Michael Ngoo. Ngoo joined the Reds from Southend United in September 2009. In the 2010/11 season, Ngoo impressed for the Under 18s despite persistent injury problems scoring 15 goals. His success with the Under 18s and then the reserves earned him a call-up to the England Under 20 World Cup squad in Columbia. However, he has struggled for game time recently and in the 2013/14 season, he had two loan spells, firstly with Yeovil and then League One side Walsall. Before that he had a very successful loan spell at SPL side Hearts, scoring in the Scottish Cup Final. Despite his lack of game time for the Under 21s this season, Ngoo made a total of 26 appearances in the season, scoring 4 goals and claiming an assist.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the released players? Who would you have released? Leave a comment below, I love reading all your comments and more importantly would love to hear your opinions. Thanks for taking the time to read this weekly feature on my blog, and for more content on Liverpool’s Under 21s and Under 18s then simply keep an eye out on the blog http://www.thenextgenkopites.wordpress.com. Finally, for more day-to-day Academy updates on all things Liverpool FC, then be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ScottTaylorUK).