It looks all but certain that Jordan Rossiter will now sign for Rangers, withreports in the Merseyside media stating that a deal is all but done. It's an exciting move for Rangers, who will only have to shell out around £250,000 for the player, who was highly thought of at Liverpool.
But why has he been allowed to leave the club, and can he be a success at Rangers? We spoke to Noel Chomyn, of SB Nation's Liverpool blog Liverpool Offside to get some inside knowledge.
GTBFO: Were you surprised to see Jordan Rossiter leave this season? While we're not exactly regular followers of Liverpool's reserves, we were under the impression that he was one of the most highly-regarded youngsters at the club. What's happened?
NC: This time last year I would have been surprised, but with Rossiter and Liverpool playing chicken over wage demands for much of the current season, that he's moving on is unfortunate but not wholly unexpected. The club clearly hoped he wouldn't find a taker willing to pay more than they were, or that if he did it would be another English club, in which case they could expect a healthy training compensation award via arbitration.
They went through similar with another prospect last summer, left back Brad Smith, and in the end got their way when he signed back on in the autumn. That obviously hasn't happened with Rossiter, and whether it's a case of Rangers offering him the wages he was looking for or a soured relationship with Liverpool's upper management and the presence of Frank McParland at Ibrox driving him to Scotland on the cheap, the result is the same.
GTBFO: What position does he currently play, and do you think he'll eventually make his own?
NC: There was some early talk of him being the club's next Steven Gerrard what with being a local lad playing in midfield, but that's never been his game. He isn't a marauding midfielder, and despite being built rather like David Silva, he isn't a creative sort, either. He's a pure holding player, and his real talent is his reading of the game, which is good enough that he's already Liverpool's second best single-pivot holding midfielder.
Due to his small stature he's not going to press high up the pitch throwing crunching tackles, and that would have put him at a disadvantage in Jürgen Klopp's preferred double-pivot, but even at 19 years of age his reading of the game is impeccable. He'll screen, he'll intercept, he'll regain possession while staying on his feet, he'll offer cover for the fullbacks and an outlet for the centre halves. And he almost always knows where he's going to send the ball before he gets it.
He's not the sort of player who's ever going to be talked up as a superstar, but he's already well on his way to being a very solid—and, perhaps, very Spanish—single-pivot holding midfielder, and he was in the man of the match conversation in all of his senior appearances for Liverpool back in the autumn before he was sidelined by a hamstring injury and then the contract impasse.
GTBFO: Were you at all surprised to see him join Rangers? Did you expect him to move to another Premier League club?
NC: That it would be difficult for him to head elsewhere in England was always what Liverpool were banking on—being a young player, they would have been owed training compensation, and the English FA always try to award what they consider fair market value. It's the system that meant Liverpool could end up paying £8M to Burnley for "free transfer" Danny Ings when everything's said and done.
So, as I expect the club is, I am rather surprised today to see Rossiter moving to Rangers. But at the same time, it's probably not as big a surprise as moving to a club within England would have been. Mostly, I'm surprised he's moving on at all.
GTBFO: It seems that Rossiter was recommended to the club by our chief scout, Frank McParland, who used to do the same job for Liverpool. With Rangers looking to take on a couple of loans for next season, do you think any of your youngsters might be good fits?
NC: When Jürugen Klopp arrived, one of the first things he said was that he wanted to stop sending the club's best players out on loan—that he felt it was more valuable to get them training with the first team, even if it meant limiting them to spot appearances in the domestic cups. With that in mind, players like winger Sheyi Ojo who might be able to make a difference for a club like Rangers are probably off the table, and anyone who might be available for a loan is probably set for a journey down into League One or Two in England.
GTBFO: Although you might not have seen much of Rangers or any other SPFL teams this season, based on what you know about Rossiter, do you think he'll be looked at as a good prospect to have in the squad or someone who can come in and start games right now?
Honestly don't know Rangers' squad situation well enough to give an informed answer—think you could probably make a better guess than I could based on the previous, but it'd probably boil down to "do Rangers need a single-pivot/screening DM?"
We'd say the answer to that was a very big "aye, we do."
You can read more from Noel Chomyn on The Liverpool Offside.