Opinion: Is Ben Woodburn worth the risk?

With the January transfer window just around the corner, the rumour mills are already in full swing.

For the second time in a number of weeks, Town have been linked with a Liverpool starlet.

As Town have one Premier League loan remaining, there is a strong indication that it will be used to strengthen the squad in January.

Some suggestions were that it would be either Liverpool’s Joe Gomez or Marko Grujic. However, there is now a suggestion that it could another Liverpool starlet: Ben Woodburn.

Whilst there is an undoubted consensus amongst Town fans that Town need to bring in a central attacking midfielder and at least one winger, there is a divide when it comes to the suggestion of Ben Woodburn.

To some, he is young, hungry and ambitious; three traits that would make Woodburn a typical David Wagner signing.

However, with Town’s Premier League status at stake, some fans see it as too much of a risk.

After all, he has only made five senior appearances for Liverpool since breaking through into the Liverpool first team.

These fears have been intensified due to the absence of Town’s other Premier League loanee Kasey Palmer, the issues surrounding him have yet to come to public light.

Having said that, Woodburn is held in the highest regard, both by the club and the fans themselves. Speaking to Neil Atkinson of The Anfield Wrap, that was more than apparent:

“Ben Woodburn is a genuinely exciting talent and has demonstrated that so far for both Liverpool and Wales. His touch is exceptional and his finishing is brilliant but what has most impressed is his brain.

In a pre-season friendly Woodburn played for Liverpool against Tranmere Rovers and a mutual acquaintance knew some of the Tranmere players and he asked who stood out for a relatively strong Liverpool side.  The Tranmere players were all in agreement – Ben Woodburn. His ability to read the game and anticipate stunned them.

Woodburn finds himself in the unenviable position of being far too good for the U23s but not quite ready to play for Liverpool’s first team. He’s slightly lacking a clear position within this Liverpool setup. He doesn’t quite have the physical attributes to match his brain but he could be very useful indeed for Huddersfield, especially in home games.

With good players around him and with the 4-2-3-1 Huddersfield have mostly fielded he is more than capable of unlocking the door from within the middle of that 3 behind the front man. He’d prosper given the freedom and Huddersfield could well add somewhere in the vicinity of 7 or 8 league goals to the end of the campaign.

He’d benefit from the opportunity too and being surrounded by pace and options is exactly where he will get the best out of himself.

Woodburn should have a big Liverpool career ahead of him but before then he can definitely help Huddersfield stay up”.

From the comments above, it is clear that Ben Woodburn is in desperate need of an opportunity; not a twenty minute cameo or a cup start but a string of competitive games for him to demonstrate his true potential.

To me, there is a feel of last season’s move for Izzy Brown in January about this deal. Izzy Brown was too good for Chelsea’s Under-23 side but not ready to step up to Chelsea’s first team.

This led him to move out on loan, albeit to the Championship.

After being recalled from Rotherham United, he made the most of the opportunities he was given by David Wagner. He ended up playing a significant part in Town’s fairy-tale journey to the Premier League.

If David Wagner did take the risk and bring in Ben Woodburn, a raw flexible attacking asset who can play both out wide and in the pocket of space behind either Laurent Depoitre or Steve Mounie, he could prove to be an ace up Town’s sleeve.

On the few occasions that Ben Woodburn has been given an opportunity for Liverpool, he has shown that his decision-making and his final product far surpasses his age and experience.

As we have witnessed so far this season, often it has been the decision-making and final product in the final third which has undone much of Town’s hard work.

With Kachunga’s pro-longed absence and the seldom appearances of Kasey Palmer and Abdelhamid Sabiri, David Wagner will need to add strength and depth to the wide positions and the central attacking midfield position in January.
Ben Woodburn is capable of playing in both positions could be the answer and it could be the ideal move for himself, for Liverpool and for Town.

From the comments above and the general feel of the move, I lean more towards those who see him as a hungry ambitious player who could suit David Wagner and Huddersfield Town perfectly. 
There is no doubt risk involved as Town are far from safe and the physical competitive nature of the Premier League is a tough ask for any eighteen year old to deal with.

However, if Ben Woodburn arrived alongside a more experienced winger and/or central attacking midfielder, that would offset the potential risk of the move.

At Huddersfield Town, Ben Woodburn wouldn’t just be an apprentice or an understudy in search of minutes and game-time.
David Wagner has shown time and time again, if a player is good enough then he is old enough and he is not afraid to put his full faith in a young player.
Like Izzy Brown and Ben Chilwell have shown for Town, there are a number of gems within elite Premier League clubs that just need to be shown faith and given opportunities to shine and Ben Woodburn is no different.

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