When players go out on loan in the lower leagues, it can often be difficult to tell how their form will translate to their first team chances at their parent club. Some youngsters star as a big fish in a small pond, and score a phenomenal amount of goals, but for whatever reason, just fall a yard or two short of making the cut in the top flight.
Sometimes you get the opposite; players who don't set the world alight in a spell away from home, but then return with a vengeance. You only have to look at Harry Kane for that one.
Football isn't a science, and it's rarely easy to tell how things will transfer across different levels, or even across different clubs in the same division. Now and again, however, you get a player you can tell, for all the world, will succeed at the height of the game.
When Derby County's Harry Wilson showed up to see off Leeds in the second leg of the Championship playoff semi-final, he cemented his status as one of those players.
Heading into half-time, Derby looked down and out of the tie, trailing by two goals on aggregate. A Jack Marriott strike just before the break gave them some hope, but it was Wilson who would then step up and fire his side towards the Premier League.
Taking the ball around 25 yards out, he controlled it in a tight space, and nonchalantly slotted the ball into Mason Mount, who drew his side level. Then, just 12 minutes later, when Derby won a penalty that would give them the lead, it was Wilson - their runaway top scorer - who was entrusted with the responsibility. With all the composure of a seasoned veteran playing five-a-sides with nothing to prove, he slotted it home and fired his side into the final.
It was a magnificent individual performance, but it was no one-off. He's been coming up trumps for Frank Lampard's side all season, and has shown exactly why Jurgen Klopp does not need to dip into the transfer market for a new forward this summer.
Harry Wilson vs. Leeds— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) May 15, 2019
60% Pass accuracy
1 Key pass
2/3 Dribbles complete
4/5 Aerial duels won
1/2 Tackles won
Direct, controlled and confident. Unlucky not to score another. A very good performance from the on-loan Liverpool man. pic.twitter.com/69iDWzZPFx
His goal record, first and foremost, speaks for itself. Over his two loan spells in the Championship, the Welshman has netted 25 goals in 62 appearances, and only seems to be getting better with time. He had a ten-game spell in which he couldn't find the net for love nor money throughout February and March - not dissimilar to Mohamed Salah - but just like the Egyptian, was able to recover his best form when it mattered.
With 18 goals in all competitions, then, he has established himself as too good for the Championship.
Of course, there is more to playing for one of Klopp's teams than simply chipping in with goals. The German wants players who will work just as hard off the ball as on it, and you don't have to look very far to see that Wilson is prepared to put a shift in.
I’d really like to see Harry Wilson get a chance to prove his worth next season. He’s passed every task put in front of him with flying colours. I’d like to think playing with the likes of the front three will take him up several levels.— Karl (@Karlton81) May 14, 2019
He covers a tremendous amount of ground, and for Derby, has averaged 1.3 successful tackles per game (WhoScored). That doesn't sound like much, but when you put it into context - that it's more than any of Liverpool's current front three, with Roberto Firmino the best of the lot at 1.0 - it paints a pretty clear picture.
If you still need convincing that he is prepared to make the step up from the Championship, then you only have to look at his statistics compared to James Maddison, who signed for Leicester off the back of an impressive season with Norwich in the second tier.
They play in different positions, granted, but Maddison - y'know, Maddison who Liverpool fans are now kicking themselves for not signing - managed 26 goal contributions across all competitions. Wilson, so far, has 24, with the playoff final still to play and various set-pieces still to take. It's clear that he will step up to the Premier League next season, be it in another spell with Derby, parent club Liverpool, or elsewhere.
gbeng Championship Team of the Playoffs@samjohnstone50 @lukeayling_8— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 16, 2019
Craig Dawson@Hegazi @dallas_stuart @jmcginn7 @ConorHourihane @JackGrealish1 @harrywilson_ @tammyabraham @Harrison_Jack11 https://t.co/7094Sy229l pic.twitter.com/J0ZgGuTgnC
At 22, he is the right age, and with 18 months of first team football under his belt, he has an adequate amount of experience to return to Anfield and fight for a spot in the team. It won't be easy, and he will likely have to claw for every minute of action he gets, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi (if he signs a new deal) and the emerging Rhian Brewster all fighting to try and displace one of that coveted front three next season.
But if Jurgen Klopp wants a hungry player who will settle for a place further down the pecking order and add some match-winning quality in depth to his front line
Source : 90min