Liverpool are increasingly fearful their teenage sensation Rhian Brewster will quit Anfield this summer with Germany a likely destination.
The 18-year-old, who received lavish praise from manager Jürgen Klopp for his brave stance exposing racist abuse in youth football, is out of contract at the end of this season.
Borussia Mönchengladbach are leading the pursuit from Bundesliga, and RB Leipzig have also been monitoring Brewster’s contract impasse. Max Eberl, Mönchengladbach sporting director, has been leading the negotiations.
Liverpool are taking a pragmatic view of the situation and losing the player is likely to be met with frustration rather than anger by the Merseyside club, who signed the striker in similar circumstances from Chelsea four years ago.
Such is the high level of respect between the club and the player, there is no sign of ill will if he refuses to sign a professional contract at Liverpool and chooses to move abroad.
Brewster has never hidden his ambition to play at the highest level as soon as possible and his next decision will be dictated by how much first-team football he can get, and how soon. Klopp has promised the England Under 17 international he will join the first-team squad from pre-season, but he knows he cannot promise him a start ahead of the most prolific front three in Champions League history.
Clearly, Liverpool want Brewster to stay and fulfil his potential at Anfield, but there is much interest in the player who won the golden boot at the Fifa Under 17 World Cup.
German football is becoming an attractive destination for some of England’s most exciting young talents. Earlier this season Manchester City lost Jadon Sancho to Borussia Dortmund.
Ademola Lookman, the Everton forward, moved to RB Leipzig on loan in January. Rather than become another ‘lost generation’ hoping for a chance in the Premier League until their early 20s, England’s youngster’s are becoming more proactive and seeking regular game time abroad. A trend is evidently under way, which may deprive the top English clubs of their Academy gems but aid their swifter development at the highest level of European football.
Recruiting Brewster would be a coup for German football given his potential. But for an untimely ankle injury, he may even have forced his way into Klopp’s squad at the end of this season.
At Thursday’s Football Writers’ Association dinner, Klopp asked Brewster to attend alongside Mohamed Salah so a tribute could be paid to the youngster for publicly expressing his despair with Uefa and Fifa’s lame efforts to combat on-field racist abuse.
Brewster said he was targeted for both club and country, but insufficient evidence meant no action was taken against those he accused.
“Rhian spoke about racism in modern football with the same power, command and composure that he shows when playing,”said Klopp.
Klopp, meanwhile, has urged his side to ‘get what they deserve’ by securing the point that will earn Champions League qualification next season. A draw at home to Brighton on Sunday will be enough.
“I think we deserve it but we have to make the last step,” said Klopp. “If we don’t do it and Chelsea get the spot then they deserve it. It is as simple as that. But over the whole season, the boys have worked in the most difficult circumstances. Chelsea made five or six changes in midweek. That would not be possible for us, even if we thought about it.
“These boys have had to fight for each yard, the last six or seven weeks, pretty much the same group. That is the situation. I really think they deserve it but we have to make the final step ourselves because nobody will probably help us.”