Roberto Firmino is the undisputed first-choice striker at Liverpool – and with good reason. A natural false-nine who completes Jurgen Klopp’s jigsaw when sandwiched in-between Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, the Brazil international has been an immovable object in attack for some time.
Klopp’s over-reliance on Firmino has come at the expense of Solanke during a period of time in which first-team opportunities could be the key to his development.
That Solanke didn’t complete a short term loan move in the summer hinted that perhaps Klopp envisaged a key role for the England youth international this season, but that assumption couldn’t be further from the case.
The 21-year-old was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup defeat against Chelsea in September, but aside from that rare sighting he has been exiled by Klopp.
Sporadic bursts of goal scoring prowess, including a net-bursting strike against Brighton on the final day of the previous campaign, hint that Solanke is a genuine goal scoring machine simply waiting to be unearthed.
Klopp’s challenge is to find a way to unlock that potential, whether that is achieved through a loan spell to the Championship or perhaps an increasingly popular Bundesliga switch, as he possesses the talent to become a future star at Anfield.
Another brace on international duty clinched England U21’s a 2-1 victory over Italy U21’s last week, and his latest performance will give Klopp food for thought ahead of his return to Melwood this week.
At this moment in time it’s fair to describe Solanke (valued at £9 million by Transfermarkt) as an underwhelming transfer flop, but it’s Klopp’s responsibility to ensure that he is not remembered as the talent who slipped through Liverpool’s grasp.
Transforming the likes of Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain and Andrew Robertson into the high calibre players which they are now regarded as is indicative of Klopp’s excellent man-management skills, so it’s time for him to apply that to Solanke’s development and unearth the true extent of his talent.