Liverpool have the utmost trust in Blackburn Rovers to develop their starlets - here’s why

Leighton Clarkson is the second Reds youngster to move to Ewood Park on loan in as many seasons.

<p>Leighton Clarkson has left Liverpool to join Blackburn on loan. Picture: Lewis Storey/ Getty Images</p>

Leighton Clarkson has left Liverpool to join Blackburn on loan. Picture: Lewis Storey/ Getty Images

As loan moves go, Leighton Clarkson couldn’t have asked for anything better.

The midfielder has exited Liverpool to join Blackburn Rovers for the 2021-22 season.

Having grown up near Ewood Park and as a fan of the Lancashire club, Clarkson is relishing his first spell away from the Reds.

The 19-year-old has made three appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and will now follow in the footsteps of team-mate Harvey Elliott, who had a dazzling season-long loan at the Championship outfit last term.

Certainly, the Anfield hierarchy seem to have plenty of trust in Rovers and their manager, Tony Mowbray, to develop their players.

We take a look at why that might be the case.

What’s been said

Mowbray believes that the Championship is the right league for youngsters to mature due to its demanding nature.

The Blackburn boss told the Lancashire Telegraph: “First and foremost, young players need experience and the Championship seems the ideal place for young Premier League footballers to go and mix it and get stuck into competitive men’s football - particularly when they’re as young as Leighton and Harvey.

Harvey Elliott enjoyed a fine loan spell at Blackburn last season. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

“They’re boys really and, at some stage, they need to go and test themselves in the physical arena of playing every three days in the Championship.

“I think it makes sense to me. It makes sense geographically.

“He should fit straight in and let his football do the talking and I don’t think there’s much change to his life even though he’s got a much shorter journey to work every morning.”

Earmarked for prominent roles

When promising prospects head out on loan, there’s often uncertainty surrounding whether they will play regularly.

On most occasions, it’s the loan club’s prerogative to whether the manager gives them game-time or not.

Look at Ben Woodburn, for example. He remains Liverpool’s youngest goalscorer and was the one player many people tipped to become a future first-team regular.

However, he had spells with Sheffield United and Blackpool cut short because he couldn’t force his way into either of their plans.

But when Mowbray makes temporary signings, more often than not they are earmarked for prominent roles.

We saw last season how Elliott, just 17 when he made the move to Ewood Park, became a talisman for the side.

The former Fulham teenager was one of Rovers’ star performers, scoring nine goals in 43 games. When fit, the teenager was one of the first names on the team sheets.

He’s now returned to Merseyside and having come off the bench in the 3-0 win at Norwich on Saturday will remain in and around Klopp’s squad for the season,

Following Jarrad Branthwaite’s arrival at Blackburn from Everton in January, he was thrust into the starting line-up before picking up an injury that saw him lose his spot.

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite played 11 times on loan at Blackburn last season. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Still, the centre-back played 11 times for Blackburn and had forced his way back into the side before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in April.

Manchester City’s Taylor Harwood-Bellis was also a regular in the first half of last term before he returned to his parent club and then joined Anderlecht.

Mowbray’s track record

It’s not just been at Blackburn where Mowbray has made full use of the loan market and added value to the players he’s recruited.

During the 2015-16 season when in charge of Coventry, his signings were particularly eye-catching.

They included Adam Armstrong from Newcastle, who scored 20 goals that term and was recently sold by Blackburn to Southampton for £15 million.

Liverpool trusted Mowbray with Ryan Kent and he netted once in 17 games during the first half of the campaign. He was sold to Rangers for £6.5 million in the summer of 2019.

Liverpool loaned Ryan Kent to Coventry when Tony Mowbray was manager. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty Images

During the January transfer window of 2016, Norwich sent James Maddison to the Sky Blues where he thrived, bagging three goals in 24 appearances.

The attacking midfielder helped Leicester win the FA Cup last season, is an England international and has been linked with a £60 million move to Arsenal this summer.

Jacob Murphy, who cost Newcastle £12 million in July 2017, also played for Mowbray at the Ricoh Arena on loan from Norwich that term.

Style of football

Mowbray previously told The Athletic that his footballing inspiration comes from the Brazil team that mesmerized in the 1970 World Cup and he has a “desire to inspire footballers to love the game”.

In terms of the way Blackburn play, it dovetails with the brand of football Klopp demands at Anfield.

According to WhoScored, Rovers’ strengths are counter attacks and creating goalscoring chances.

Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray. Picture: Lewis Storey/ Getty Images

Counter attacks can certainly be a potent weapon for Liverpool given the explosiveness of their forwards. It was a swift breakaway that yielded Roberto Firmino’s goal in Saturday’s defeat of Norwich.

In addition, Blackburn’s style of play is credited as one that controls the game in the opposition’s half and they attempt crosses often.

Again, these are important facets of Liverpool’s game.

Wyscout stats show that only Manchester City averaged more possession and took more shots last season and no side put crosses into the box more than the Reds.


Sometimes sending a youngster out on loan to the other side of the country and getting them out of their comfort zone can be highly fruitful.

But fledgling stars remaining in the north west can prove more beneficial to Liverpool.

It means that club staff are more readily available to make the hour-long journey and get a first-hand look at their player, rather than having to rely on video footage.