Dominic Solanke: ready to make the step up?

Dominic Solanke scored his first goal for Liverpool Football Club in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, a result which sealed the Reds’ place in the UEFA Champions League for next season.
Joel Sanderson-Murray  |  16th May 2018

It was Solanke’s 27th appearance for the club and after failing to find the net before the match at Anfield, he had clocked up 670 minutes before finally getting off the mark for the Champions League finalists.

Liverpool to win the Champions League is currently 6/5 with RedsBet.

The striker, who joined from Chelsea last summer, was close to the realms of Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch in terms of minutes waiting to net for the first time for the club.

Relief and ecstasy was clear for all to see on the face of the 20-year old – and his teammates, who all looked genuinely buzzing for the Reading-born hitman – after he lashed the ball past Matthew Ryan for Liverpool’s third goal against Brighton.

Liverpool to win the 2018/19 Premier League is currently 5/1 with RedsBet.

There is undoubted potential in Solanke, although that has come into question at times this season, but the real question now is whether the England youth international can contribute to the first team next season or whether a loan in the search of first-team football would be better to aid his development?

Solanke signed for Liverpool in July 2017 after his contract at Chelsea expired, with a fee yet to be decided in terms of compensation with the player being under 24-years-old.

He joined off the back of a hugely impressive World Cup performance for England U20s, where he scored four goals in the tournament in South Korea to come away with the golden boot for the competition.

Rewind back to the start of the season and the striker’s stock was high after a hugely impressive pre-season.

It wouldn’t be an earth-shattering revelation to predict that Jurgen Klopp’s plan for Solanke would be to develop him in the U23 team with the aim of breaking him into the first team in the next few seasons.

But Solanke’s barnstorming pre-season, including goals against Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao, turned some heads and led to the striker being fast-tracked into the first team equation.

It’s easy to forget that this move put the wheels in motion for Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge to be deemed surplus to requirements in Klopp’s plans and eventually finalise loan moves away from the club.

The season which has followed has not gone exactly to plan in terms of numbers for Solanke, with just the one goal, however there were a number of promising performances in terms of movement, team-work and flashes of technical ability in the early echelons of the season.

Recent works have seen the need for Solanke to be thrown into the first-team with more scrutiny on his output, due to the Champions League run heightening it’s impact on Liverpool’s resources.

Solanke has been thrown into Premier League games in a case of ‘sink or swim’ and on occasion has certainly looked like he may well be knocking around with Jaws.

Performances against Everton and Chelsea were as well-received amongst Liverpool fans as the latest Arctic Monkeys album has with the entirety of social media but Sunday’s showing has left hope that Solanke may well be a productive back-up to Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.

Solanke to score at any time in the Champions League final is 19/10 with RedsBet.

This is not to fall head over heels over one performance, although everything Liverpool do at the moment makes you want to fall head over heels.

It may be too early to write off Solanke.

His lack of impact on the first-team this season could suggest that a loan move to another Premier League or high-ranked Championship club would be the next stage of the forward’s development for next season, and there have been strong links with a loan move to Steven Gerrard’s Rangers side recently.

But there is something there. His ability to hold up the ball was there earlier in the season but it was his link up play and off the ball movement that caught the eye against the Seagulls at the weekend.

Even the way he took his goal showed that there is a player with ability there.

This was the first time that Solanke has started and played with the front three that has netted 90 goals this season and you could see the difference playing with better quality players in direct correlation with him had.

Solanke will feel boss at this current moment. The weight is off his back, the goal has been scored. There is no doubt that the striker will feel he could contribute off the bench in the Champions League final against Real Madrid now, and perhaps we as fans will now have more confidence in this too.

The Liverpool Echo reported recently that Liverpool have no interest in signing RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner and instead plan on using Solanke, as well as Danny Ings and Rhian Brewster as back-up to Roberto Firmino next season.

With the return of Origi and Sturridge from loan on the horizon as well it will be interesting what the next move is on the striker front in the summer.

Has Solanke staked his claim to stick around the first team against next season? Time will tell but…

There is something there.

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Follow Joel Sanderson-Murray on Twitter @joelsmurray
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