It was reported on Tuesday that Tiago Ilori could return to Liverpool from his loan spell at Aston Villa earlier than expected.
Ilori hasn't made a single appearance for the Birmingham outfit and, with new boss Remi Garde taking the reins at Villa Park, his chances could be even slimmer.
He was deemed surplus to requirements by Brendan Rodgers during the summer and is yet to play for the Reds since his £7 million move from Sporting Lisbon in 2013.
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The 22-year-old will be pondering a serious dilemma, over whether a return to Liverpool would be the correct move. Officials at Anfield will likely be weighing up a similar possibility.
However, it could be worthwhile for both parties for him to return to L4 earlier than expected.
Ilori, like many signings under Rodgers, was relatively unheard of when he put pen to paper over two years ago. At 20, he was not expected to be a regular at Anfield, for the first few years at least.
On Ilori's arrival, Rodgers said: "We had been tracking for a year in Tiago Ilori, a young talent but who can be a big talent.
"He is 6' 3", super quick, power, can jump, and he just needs to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. He is one for the future, but he can be a really big talent."
Strong comments by Rodgers and it's somewhat of a surprise he went from Liverpool's future centre-back to an outcast.
Lack Of Options
Jurgen Klopp's task at Anfield was never going to be easy given the situation he inherited, but his job hasn't been made any easier with the injury list growing each week.
Mamadou Sakho is the latest player to join the sickroom after limping off with a knee injury in Sunday's 2-1 loss against Crystal Palace. Joe Gomez is also set to miss the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury he picked up playing for England Under-21's in October.
His injury leaves Klopp with just three recognised, senior centre-backs in Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure. If anything happens to one of those three, the German will have a tricky situation on his hands.
Although Ilori has not played this season, he would prove a much better candidate to be thrust into the deep end than others.
Emre Can proved he wasn't a natural when playing in a three-man defence under Rodgers during last season and the start of this term. He's also established himself as a centre-midfielder at Anfield and, with Jordan Henderson on the sidelines, Klopp will be keen to keep his compatriot's presence in the centre of the park.
Klopp would have to promote a youngster from the academy if another centre-half suffers an injury and Daniel Cleary and Tom Brewitt would be prime candidates. However, it would be a steep step-up in competition for someone who has no first-team experience under their belt.
Although they may have potential that may well be fulfilled down the line, to throw them into the spotlight immediately would be a daunting task. They may find it difficult to handle experienced Premier League stars and that will only serve to damage their confidence.
Ilori does possess first-team experience having played out on loan at Grenada and Bordeaux for the past two seasons. Alas, it would be a new league competing against the world's best players, but at least he has valuable experience playing in top flight football.
During his spell at Bordeaux, he progressed well. He was a regular during the opening months of the campaign and averaged 2.2 tackles per game, 2.7 interceptions and 6.1 clearances at the end of the term.
Many people first got a real glimpse of Ilori during the summer's Under-21's European Championships. The 22-year-old was a prominent member of Portugal's squad who reached the final of the tournament.
He proved he can mix it with the best. He helped his country keep a clean sheet in the goalless final against Sweden, which Portugal lost on penalties. Ilori also performed admirably when coming up against England's up-and-coming stars. He thwarted Harry Kane and Danny Ings in his country's 1-0 victory in the group stages.
Kane is arguably England's best striker at this moment and is deadly in front of goal. He's a player any manager would relish having in their squad and the fact that Ilori kept him quiet says something.
To play in the Premier League, having the right physique is always a bonus and what managers ideally look for.
Competing against tough, strong forwards, matching them strength for strength is always half the battle and Ilori meets that criteria.
Standing at 6ft 3in, Ilori certainly has the stature to be perfectly suited to the Premier League.
Centre-backs are not just towering giants any more, but also have to have a sharp turn of foot and be quick over short bursts.
Ilori has exactly that attribute – whilst at Sporting Lisbon, he broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s record over 30 metres.
Klopp has been a revelation at Anfield since he took the helm. The German has lifted the spirit and there appears to be much more identity about the team overall. Sakho and Jordon Ibe both struggled for minutes under Rodgers, but Klopp has shown the pair plenty of faith and they’ve duly obliged.
It’s likely that Ilori will be short of confidence, despite his decent showing at the Under 21’s Euros. He hasn’t kicked a ball for a side who are rooted to the base of the top flight and may need some serious man-management to help reinstate self-assurance.
Klopp has proved he can build key relationships with young players throughout his career. He nurtured Mats Hummels into one of the world’s best centre-backs at Borussia Dortmund, as well as other talents such as Mario Gotze and Marcus Reus.
Klopp reportedly flirted with the idea of taking Ilori on loan at Dortmund last season, as well as signing him before he went to Liverpool. Ilori would relish the chance of working under Klopp and the Liverpool boss could well work the magic that he has done tirelessly in the past.
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