28 Jan 2016

I Quit: 'Outstanding' Liverpool attacker submits transfer request; wants to leave this week

After five years at the club, Reds striker Jerome Sinclair reportedly wants out of Liverpool this month, and with the appalling promotion prospects for Academy attackers, who can blame him for wanting to quit Anfield?

According to The Telegraph:

"Jerome Sinclair has told Liverpool he wants to leave. Rather than moving as a free agent in the summer, when he could secure a larger signing-on fee, he wants to start playing first-team football quickly".

Predictably, Sinclair seems to be getting a lot unfair criticism from Liverpool fans over his desire to leave, but in my view, he has done absolutely nothing wrong:

* Why should Sinclair - recently described by Jamie Carragher as 'outstanding' - hang around and waste his career? Liverpool have an utterly atrocious record of developing Academy attackers, and for strikers/attacking midfielders, the LFC Academy is a development graveyard.

* In the last 25 years, only six attacking players have made it through the youth system to become first-team regulars (Owen, Fowler, Gerrard, McManaman, Sterling, and Ibe), and only two of those (Ibe and Sterling) made it through this century.

* Joao Teixeira's situation is a cautionary tale, and Sinclair is almost certainly aware of the Portuguese's struggle for regular first-team opportunities. Despite playing consistently well and winning two 'Player of the Year awards, Teixeira - who is now 23 (!) - has made only 4 appearances in four years. This demotivating approach is not conducive to long-term player retention, and Sinclair has probably decided that he's unwilling to put his future in the hands of a club that ignores obvious talent.

* Additionally, Sinclair may be disturbed by Liverpool's manifest lack of a merit system. For example: after recently scoring against Exeter, Klopp immediately dumped him from the match-day squad for the next three league games. With the club in the midst of an injury crisis *and* struggling for goals, why didn't Sinclair make the bench for at least *one* of those games as a reward for his goal?

Mark my words, Ojo will be next, and the trend will continue until Liverpool start giving Academy attacking players a consistent chance. The treatment of players like Teixeira is an absolute disgrace, and long-term, the club will pay the price for persisting with overpaid/overpriced/superfluous dross at the expense of prioritising the first-team development of academy attackers.

Prime example: Divock Origi. Did Liverpool really need to sign him? Why couldn't the club just put Sinclair (who's just a year younger) in the first-team squad, and save the £10m transfer fee? The same principle applied with Suso and Luis Alberto; Rodgers spent £7m on Alberto, and sent Suso on loan, a dispiriting deal that represents everything that's wrong with LFC's youth development.

Clearly, The absolute best thing Sinclair can do for his career right now is quit Anfield. His desire to leave reminds me of Tom Ince, who also left Liverpool for first-team football. At the time, Ince explained:

“It [leaving LFC] 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".

Former Blackpool boss Ian Holloway backed Ince's decision, and criticised Liverpool for stunting the development of young players:

"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. He has been absolutely unplayable for us".

Since leaving Liverpool, Ince has made close to 200 appearances for various clubs, and although he's in a lower division, he's still only 23, and has plenty of time to seal a move to a big club. Again, contrast this with Teixeira, who is also 23.

As for Sinclair: Like with Ince, I personally admire his willingness to leave one of the world's elite clubs in the pursuit of personal development, and he appears to be motivated by football rather than money, which is particularly refreshing.

Moving to Watford (if that's where he ends up), is a step down, but who cares if it it leads to regular first-team football?

Good luck, Jerome - You're making the right decision.

Author: Jaimie K


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