It’s been a long time coming for Rhian Brewster in a Liverpool shirt, but whisper it quietly: his moment may have finally arrived.
The 20-year-old has been through the ringer since arriving at Anfield in 2015. An ankle injury that kept him out between January 2018 and March the following year had every right to write him out of the picture permanently, yet his development has kept pace with the Reds’ rapid ascent.
In search of first-team football, he threw himself into a loan at Swansea with both feet.
He joined the Swans having made just three senior appearances, but hit an obscene level of consistency right off the bat, failing to go more than three games without a goal for the entirety of his six-month stint.
He left having scored 11 in 22, appearances, having averaged a goal every 168 minutes in a relatively low-scoring team who missed out on promotion via the playoffs.
While at the Liberty Stadium, he picked up seven bookings, hinting at his tendency to play football with his heart on his sleeve. But while that streak may need coached out of his game if he is to play regularly at the highest level, Jurgen Klopp won’t mind his passion.
He will encourage it, in fact, particularly if it leads to more of the performances he has seen from the 20-year-old in pre-season. In two 45-minute substitute appearances, he has scored three goals – the Reds’ fabled front three, in 290 minutes between them, scored once.
He celebrated his equalising goal against Salzburg with an exuberance and enthusiasm that almost seemed jarring in a friendly, struggling to control his emotions as he leapt and punched the air.
Another striker may have played it cool, but you get what you get with Liverpool’s smiling assassin. He’s a predatory forward who plays like every goal is his last, particularly when he has fought injury for two years to get back in amongst them.
There’s no denying Brewster has shown both the ability and commitment to the cause make an impression on his manager. Some interesting quotes from Klopp ahead of Saturday’s Community Shield indicated that he will be involved at some stage – though a decision is yet to be made on his future beyond this weekend.
“In the moment he is [in our plans], and then we have to see what will happen in the next few weeks or so,” Klopp told the Liverpool website. “We want to use Rhian but we want to help Rhian as well so that’s why we have to make decisions, but not now obviously.
“He looks really promising. I know goals are the most important thing in the football world, so obviously he can score goals, that’s good and all the rest, we will see. He is still a young boy. In this position, as No.9 up front, experience helps a lot.
“We have to see how we can give him the experience – is it here [or] is it somewhere else? I only mention it because it’s not decided yet, why should we?
“There’s absolutely no reason to rush anything in that thing. He is our boy and now in the moment he is here. He will be involved tomorrow, in the squad for sure, and that’s it.”
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen Curtis Jones and Neco Williams enjoy defining games which established them as Liverpool first-team players. For Jones, it was his victorious introduction to the Merseyside Derby, while Williams can hark back to his start against Arsenal in the EFL Cup.
Logic would dictate, then, that Brewster – off the back of a prolific loan spell and a hugely promising pre-season – will be the next to make that jump. He should be given every chance to do so this season – starting on Saturday, in the biggest game of his career so far, with a trip to Wembley.
Cover for Roberto Firmino is yet to be directly source, and if Brewster’s development continues, then it may not have to be. If all goes to plan, then he will join Jones and Williams in saving his club a lot of money in the transfer market.