Why Ben Davies never played for Liverpool and does he have Anfield future after Sheffield United loan switch?
The centre-back departed the Reds on loan but has another four years left on his contract.
Ben Davies warms up for Liverpool. Picture: PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
The centre-back joined Championship side Sheffield United for the 2021-22 campaign, having failed to make a solitary competitive appearance at Anfield.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Davies joined Liverpool for a reported fee of £500,000 from Preston in February.
- His transfer came from left field given he’d never played in the Premier League before.
- Davies has been out of favour since his arrival, having been including in only eight match-day squads in total.
- After moving to Bramall Lane, he admitted being left out at Anfield was hard mentally.
- The defender’s future on Merseyside beyond this season is shrouded in doubt.
What’s been said
Davies holds no regrets about joining Liverpool, although he has admitted being down the pecking order has been tough on his mental health.
He told the Sheffield Star: “I have no regrets about going to Liverpool.
“I asked the main people around me at the time, my dad, girlfriend and friends, and everyone said I had to go for it.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime move and I’d take it again if the chance came up again, every time. Even though I didn’t play a lot of football.
“I was fifth or sixth choice at Liverpool and to see a route to playing is exciting.
“It’s good for my mental health to have a means to an end at the end of the week rather than just training and knowing that you won’t get an opportunity to play.”
So what was the point in Liverpool signing Davies?
The former Tranmere Rovers loanee wasn’t the usual sort of signing the Reds would make.
Davies was an established Championship player at Preston but had never sampled the Premier League.
But due to a defensive crisis, with Virgil van Dijk, Joel Gomez (both knee) and Joel Matip (ankle) all suffering season-ending injuries, Liverpool were forced to dip into the second tier to bolster their numbers.
Klopp’s side paid a reported fee of £500,000 for Davies and handed him a long-term contract that expires in June 2025, as per Transfermrkt.
Why didn’t he play last season?
Davies appeared on the bench eight times for Liverpool, although he was never required for action.
Shortly after Davies arrived, the Reds swooped for Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke for the remainder of the campaign. The Turkey international would go on to make 13 outings.
Klopp also preferred to promote from within in central defence rather than give Davies a run-out.
Nat Phillips fought his way into the starting XI to become a regular and featured 20 times in total, while youngster Rhys Wiliams made seven outings.
There were even occasions - such as the 2-0 loss to Everton in the Merseyside derby at Anfield - when Klopp played captain Jordan Henderson as a makeshift centre-back rather than Davies.
Why has he been allowed to leave?
If Davies wasn’t getting a game when Liverpool had their main three centre-backs out injured, then there’s scant chance he’ll be playing now they’re back fit.
Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all returned, which ultimately deemed Davies surplus to requirements.
Van Dijk and Matip both featured in the Reds’ 3-0 win at Norwich on the opening day of the 2021-22 Premier League season while Gomez was on the bench.
In addition, Klopp strengthened his options earlier in the summer with the £36 million signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig.
The 22-year-old is one for the future but was also brought in to to ensure Liverpool are not left threadbare again if they do pick up injuries.
Will Davies ever play for Liverpool in the future?
I is unlikely that we will ever see him play for Liverpool in a competitive game.
Davies could well have a solid season for Sheffield United and help them achieve immediate promotion back to the Premier League.
To go from a top-end Championship outfit to a European powerhouse that’s consistently battling for the Premier League and Champions League, however, is a completely different challenge.
Meanwhile, Gomez (2024), Matip (2024), Van Dijk (2025) and Konate (2026) will all still be under contract.
The likeliest scenario is that Davies will spend this term at Bramall Lane before being sold permanently next summer.
Should he duly impress at the Blades, Liverpool could net a decent profit from the deal.