14 Nov 2013

£25m star insists: Quitting LFC was the 'best move I ever made'. Should BR re-sign...?

Last season, Blackpool winger - and former Liverpool youth player - Thomas Ince admitted that he was glad he left Anfield in 2011, and explained that he'd rather take a risk at a smaller club than 'sign a 4-year deal and not play'. Ince's move to the Seasiders has worked out fantastically well, and in a new interview this week, the exciting winger has once again reiterated that he's happy with his decision to leave Liverpool FC.

Speaking to The Telegraph today, Ince hailed the 'great schooling' he received at Liverpool's academy, but dismissed the notion that he has regrets about choosing to leave. He explained:

“My decision to come away from academy football [at LFC] and go into the real world was the best move I ever made. It built me physically and mentally.

"I say to any kid at 18, if you get the chance to play in the first team of a lower division club, take it. It’s so much better than playing in development football.”

Last season, former Blackpool boss Ian Holloway provided some further insight into Ince's departuer, and suggested that the Reds had lost a potentially great player. He told the Daily Mail:

"What held him [Ince] back was he went to a club [Liverpool] that had an academy and there was no way through. He got fed up with that so he came and learnt his trade here. God knows what he could do with one of their [Liverpool's] shirts on now. He has been absolutely unplayable for us and has been outstanding in such a short period of time"

I can totally understand Ince's desire to move on. During his time at the club, it was practically impossible for young, attacking players to break through into the first team and stay there. Indeed, prior to Raheem Sterling's promotion, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Steven Gerrard were the only young, attacking players in the last 20 years to come through the youth set-up and make it in the first team.

This is something I've highlighted on the site in the past, and although this seems to have changed somewhat under Brendan Rodgers, it seems like the club is now reverting to type. Players such as Wisdom, Sterling etc who came through the youth set-up are now being farmed out on loan, and others, like Jordon Ibe, are not getting any chances in the first team.

It took some guts to leave a massive club like Liverpool, but the gamble paid off for Ince, who is one of the Championship's most prolific goalscoring/creating wingers. Liverpool tried to re-sign him several times over the last year, but he stuck to his guns and stayed at Blackpool.

That may change soon, though. In October, Ince's Agent, Chris Nathaniel, made it clear that the youngster wants to leave Blackpool during the January transfer window. He told reporters:

“Thomas now feels he is ready for Premier League football on a regular basis – whether that comes in January or at the end of the season. He is grateful for the chance Blackpool have given him but he now wants to step up a level.”

Ince's Dad, Paul Ince - who is also his boss at Blackpool - insists that Premier League clubs will have to pay big bucks to capture the flying winger. He told The Telegraph:

"If you look at Zaha being sold for £15m, then Thomas has to be worth £25m. If you compare the two, Thomas has to be worth much more. The rest of the top scorers in the league are strikers. In terms of potential, he can reach £25m in value"

Will Liverpool go back in for Ince? That ship has probably sailed, and at £25m, there's no chance (!). However, at a cheaper, more realistic price, there's always a possibility...

Jaimie Kanwar


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