Player once hailed as 'important' by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp released by latest club

Liverpool boss Jurgen KloppLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp | Getty Images

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Former Liverpool wonderkid Ovie Ejaria has been released by League One strugglers Reading after four years at the club. The Berkshire club has cited 'injury and fitness' problems as the reasons for his contract termination, but the 26-year-old had come under public criticism from manager Ruben Selles in recent months.

Ejaria joined Reading from Liverpool, initially on loan in 2019 before completing a permanent transfer for a reported £3.5 million in 2020. The midfielder had also spent loan spells at Rangers and Sunderland, as well as picking up eight first-team appearances while at Anfield.

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Ejaria, who is now a free agent, made 124 appearances in total for Reading and registered nine goals and 13 assists. A statement from Reading said: "Ejaria’s contract was due to expire after the end of this current season. However, with injury and fitness problems limiting first-team action of late and a desire from the club to reduce its expenditure, an agreement was amicably reached for Ovie to leave the club early."

Ejaria had been outcast to the reserves under Selles this season after a remarkable fall from grace - he had previously been one of the Royals' star players. The club now sits in the League One relegation zone after being demoted from the Championship last season as financial struggles continue at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

The talented midfielder was signed by Liverpool in 2014 from the Arsenal youth academy and the player would go on to hone his skills in Merseyside before breaking into the first team in 2016. Ejaria went on to make eight first-team appearances for the Reds, two Premier League cameos and in six domestic cup fixtures, and was just 18 years old when first stepping out under Jurgen Klopp in 2016.

The youth academy product was even used as a shining example of dedication and promise by Klopp when speaking to fellow young players just a few months after his debut. Speaking in 2017 during a Tenerife training camp, Klopp said: “I told the boys before the session [on Tuesday] that last year, Ovie Ejaria came onto my plate, if you want. I saw him here first. I knew him, I saw him playing a few times, but here having him around for four days and seeing him in small spaces in the sessions against the ‘adults’ if you want was very important for him and for me.

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“It’s an opportunity. You can see in their eyes they know it; they are really ambitious when they think about the sessions and we will try to do everything we can to give them the opportunity to impress. There’s no doubt about the attitude, there’s no doubt about quality – it’s only a question of are they already ready or not? If not, then they still have time. If yes, then let’s make the next step.”

Jurgen Klopp was a big fan of the midfielder at Anfield (Image: Getty Images)Jurgen Klopp was a big fan of the midfielder at Anfield (Image: Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp was a big fan of the midfielder at Anfield (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Despite the praise for his character as a youngster, Ejaria came under criticism from Selles and hadn't played for Reading first team in a calendar year since picking up an injury. The Reading manager had revealed that Ejaria was no longer injured and it was his attitude that had been keeping him away from action.

Selles said: "He had this when we arrived at the club, he was injured. He has been injured until the end of September, so we have been building him up with the Under-21s,

"I am waiting for him to get his form and be able to play games and then I will decide. He needs to show his best. Right now, he is not injured he is building up form to be able to play. He needs to show that he wants to play for us and is fully ready. He needs to show that he wants to play and do things for this football club.

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"He needs to be fully fit to play football matches and when we have decided that he is fully fit we will review the parameters of commitment. He will play if we decide he will play. He needs to show a lot if he wants to play for me."

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