While the summer eviction continues in Liverpool, the club made a big profit by selling Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi to Union Berlin.
The 23-year-old, who joined Imperial Soccer Academy in 2015 for £ 400,000, was moved on for £ 6.5m after seven loan changes in three countries.
Awoniyi trained in Austria the first week of pre-season training with the first team, which was his longest senior setup experience during his six years as a Liverpool player.
FSV Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen, Royal Excel Mouscron, KAA Gent, back to Royal Excel Mouscron, Mainz, Union Berlin; From the age of 18 he was traveling back and forth between Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, with rare stops in England.
Awoniyi’s permanent move to Union was more than inevitable, along with a touch of irony in the summer when he was finally eligible for a UK work permit.
When Liverpool confirmed the contract to sign the player in 2015, the announcement was accompanied by news that he would be handed over to FSV Frankfurt immediately – quite a challenge for a player moving from Nigeria to Europe and it took him six months to make him his debut for the German second division club.
Awoniyi has worked tirelessly to build his reputation, with 34 goals scored and 16 assists in his 139 games for various clubs since replacing Imperial Soccer Academy for Liverpool.
But the role played by his long-time parent club was practically minimal, as the Reds only served as a channel on his way to the Bundesliga.
Liverpool, in turn, made a profit of £ 6.1 million; That is, without taking into account the rental fees of the clubs he has referred to as temporary homes for the past six years.
The word ‘home’ stood out as Awoniyi enjoyed his permanent move to Union and said on the club’s official website, “After many loan changes in previous years, I want to finally come and have a home.”
It will have been difficult for the striker to give his fullest as he joined the Liverpool squad in Saalfelden earlier this month and met many of his teammates and coaches for the first time knowing he was overwhelmed.
Likewise, it would have been difficult for him and his wife on a personal level after recently celebrating the birth of a son and not knowing where their next move would take them.
Profit vs. People
Awoniyi’s departure after six years and seven loans raises questions about the well-being of the players and whether the Reds should be embroiled in an admittedly lucrative approach to turning foreign talent for profit.
Awoniyi is not the first player to sign Liverpool without a work permit in recent years. Brazilian Allan Rodrigues’ £ 500,000 move from Internacional is very similar.
After impressing the club scouts at the Frenz International Cup, Allan moved from Brazil in the final months of Brendan Rodgers’ reign in 2015.
Like Awoniyi, Allan was loaned out immediately and, at the age of 18, switched to a short-term contract with the Finnish SJK, followed by stints in Belgium, Germany, Cyprus and then back to Brazil.
During his entire loan, the midfielder only played 57 times for SJK, Sint-Truiden, Hertha Berlin, Apollon Limassol and Eintracht Frankfurt.
His return to Brazil with Fluminense, anticipating a permanent move to Atletico Mineiro, was a cathartic process for a player “depressed” and “humiliated” by his experience in Europe.
“It was complicated, it was sad. The word was humiliation, that happened to me, “Allan was quoted as saying in 2019, reflecting on his time at Eintracht Frankfurt, for which he played four times.
“And that made me feel more and more discouraged that I wanted to stop playing. I don’t know if the word humiliation is too strong, but there wasn’t the human side, the understanding side. “
Allan added that “the desire was to stay home every day,” with difficulties in Germany leading to an early termination of his contract and a move to Fluminense, which was facilitated by Liverpool’s credit department.
When he finally moved to Atletico Mineiro in early 2020, the Reds made a £ 2.7m profit.
There were meetings with Jürgen Klopp in his first few months at the club, but like Awoniyi, there was a slim chance he would have ever played for them.
His depression wasn’t directly caused by Liverpool’s treatment, of course, but it is certainly symptomatic of a player moving to a foreign country as a teenager and spending five years in temporary homes.
Awoniyi and Allan have since left the club but there is another example of this policy in Colombian full-back Anderson Arroyo.
The least recognizable of the trio, Arroyo moved from Fortaleza to the Reds in 2018 before quickly being shipped to Real Mallorca, where he spent half a season with their B-team in the Spanish fifth division.
From there, Arroyo spent some time at KAA Gent in Belgium, Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic, and both Salamanca and Mirandes in Spain.
His season change to Mirandes has yet to be publicly recognized by the club, he is so important.
It wasn’t until Salamanca that the 21-year-old began playing regular first-team soccer after serving for everyone, including his mother club, in his first two and a half years in Liverpool.
Arroyo’s peripheral role was perfectly summed up when Klopp struggled to remember the youngster when asked about him during a press conference on the 2019 tour of the USA.
Arroyo has yet to qualify for a UK work permit, and while post-Brexit rules may help his prospect, in all likelihood he will never play for the Reds either.
Signed as 18-year-olds from Nigeria, Brazil and Colombia, three players were sold to clubs in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Cyprus, Brazil, the Czech Republic and Spain before being resold for profit.
It may seem like a savvy business strategy for Liverpool, but there are legitimate questions as to whether it is right, or even humane, to treat young people that way.
Of course, accusations of neglect would be negligent on the club and they are far from Chelsea’s standard when it comes to capitalizing on the credit market.
But no matter how many times credit managers Julian Ward and David Woodfine have been in touch with the trio over the years, something is still wrong.
Awoniyi, Allan and Arroyo will undoubtedly have been paid well throughout their tenure at Liverpool and there is no denying that working with the six-time European champions has raised their profile.
In addition, they are complicit in the process; They decided to join the club knowing the road to a UK work permit would be long and potentially painful.
For example, Allan described his time in Anfield as a “good experience” and said, “I have taken something from every country and am more complete.”
But is there a point when due diligence should precede winning, and a gamer’s desire to go home is more important than a seven-figure amount in the bank?