Sergi Canos: the familiar face who’ll line up for Brentford - but could and should have Liverpool kept him?

The winger was sold for £2.5 million and comes up against the Reds for the first time since leaving in 2016.

Sergia Camos in action for Liverpool under-19s in the Uefa Youth League. Picture: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images for UEFA

Liverpool come up against a familiar face when they travel to Brentford on Saturday (17.30 BST).

Not that many fans will remember Sergi Canos' time at Anfield too well. After all, his solitary appearance was a fleeting one.

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But now five years after his departure, comes up against his former club.

At the moment, the Reds' academy is enjoying a real purple patch. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the poster boy but Curtis Jones, Caoimhin Kelleher, Rhys Williams, Neco Williams have all made it into the first team.

In addition, Kaide Gordon, Conor Bradley and Tyler Morton were handed their debuts against Norwich in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.

So with that in mind, as Liverpool prepare prepare to thwart Canos and his Bees team-mates, it poses the question: could and should they have kept him for longer?

Background

The Spaniard spent three years at the Reds in total.

Aged 16, he opted to leave Barcelona's renowned youth set-up to move to Merseyside in 2013.

Canos was a regular for the under-23s during the 2014-15 season, recording one goal and three assists in 19 appearances.

He also represented the Reds in the Uefa Youth League, netting once in six games.

Sergi Canos celebrates scoring for Liverpool under-19s against Benfica in the Uefa Youth League. Picture: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images for UEFA

The following campaign, Canos was deemed ready to go out and garner regular senior experience. He completed a loan switch to Brentford, who were in their second season in the Championship.

Canos thrived in the capital, notching eight goals and creating a further five in 42 appearances to help the Bees finish a creditable ninth place.

When he returned to Anfield, he was handed his debut in the final Premier League game of the term. Canos came off the bench for the final 10 minutes in a 1-1 draw with West Brom as Jurgen Klopp rested key players ahead of the Europa League final.

Blocked pathway

That would be Canos first and final outing for Liverpool, though.

By that stage, he'd already made his mind up to leave.

The then-19-year-old turned down a new contract on Merseyside and was instead sold to Norwich City for £2.5m duirng the summer transfer window.

It's likely that Canos couldn't have seen himself breaking into Klopp's side at that time or in the near future.

At the time, the Reds' forward options boasted the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge. Sadio Mane would also arrive in the following months.

What’s more, youngsters Sheyi Ojo and Jordan Ibe were both ahead in the pecking order and Harry Wilson was progressing well behind the scenes.

Sheyi Ojo hasn’t played for Liverpool since January 2017. Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The pathway appeared blocked for Canos.

What happened next

It wasn’t exact any different for Canos at Norwich. He lasted just six months at Carrow Road, scoring two goals in six outings before returning to Brentford on a permanent basis.

West London is where he developed into the player he is today. Season after season, he's got better and better.

Last term was the obvious highlight, with Canos playing in every Championship game - racking up nine goals - as Thomas Frank led Brentford to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.

The Bees and Canos had the dream start to life in the top flight as he netted in the 2-0 opening-day win over Arsenal.

Sergi Canos celebrates scoring for Brentford against Arsenal. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Could Liverpool have done anything to keep Canos?

Well, considering that the winger wanted to leave suggests that it would have been difficult.

More money perhaps? Maybe, but it seemed Canos' decision was primarily football-based.

Certainly, Canos can feel vindicated by the pathway he chose to take. Liverpool, meanwhile, could rue not giving him a better passage into the first team.

Ojo remains a Red player in name only. He's not made an outing since January 2016 and spent the past five seasons on loan.

Ojo's currently at Millwall and will be released from Anfield after his deal expires in June.

Perhaps, in hindsight, he would have been better to move on.

Ibe, meanwhile, generated Liverpool a substantial windfall the same summer Canos left. The ex-Wycombe man was snapped up by Bournemouth for £15 million, with those funds helping to pay for Mane.

On the flip side, Canos was still under contract for another 12 months. Had Liverpool desperately wanted him, they may have rebuffed interest, made him a more prominent member of the squad and swayed his mind.

That wasn’t Klopp’s priority at the time, though. Far from it.

During the German’s revolution, it was not the period to bepatient with fledgling stars.

He needed those required to transform Liverpool back into a European force.

In truth, his exit was correct and there will likely be amicable greetings between Canos and his former team-mates and manager

after the final whistle.