5 Liverpool academy products shining elsewhere in Europe’s Top 5 leagues

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Trent Alexander-Arnold is the latest Liverpool academy graduate to play a key role in the first team. However, a few other academy products moved elsewhere to get first-team opportunities and one player moved to a rival team to win trophies.

#5. Mikel San Jose – Athletic Bilbao

Mikel San Jose joined Liverpool aged 18 before making his professional debut and played the 2007/08 and 2008/09 seasons for the club’s reserve side. In August 2009, San Jose returned to Athletic Bilbao on a season-long loan for regular first-team experience. 

The following summer, Bilbao completed his signing on a permanent deal and San Jose left without making an appearance for the Liverpool senior team.

The Spaniard is playing his tenth season for Bilbao and has gone on to make 378 appearances scoring 37 goals. He has predominantly played as a defensive midfielder for the La Liga side but has also played as a centre-back for them.

His impressive performance for Bilbao also earned him seven caps for the Spain national team and he was even part of the UEFA Euro 2016 side.

#4. Conor Coady – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Conor Coady was highly rated during his time with Liverpool youth teams but despite being on the first-team fringes for many years, he only made two appearances for the Reds.

The local Liverpool boy, who was a defensive midfielder when he was at the club, was sold to Championship side Huddersfield Town in 2014 after a loan spell with Sheffield United in League One. After an impressive season with the Terriers, Wolves signed him and he has been an integral member of their side since.

At Wolves, Nuno Espírito Santo played Coady in a three-man defence and that brought the best out of him. Despite significant financial investment in the Wolves squad in recent years, Coady has remained a crucial member of the side and has captained the club in the Premier League while playing every minute of the league season so far.

#3. Peter Gulacsi – RB Leipzig

Liverpool signed Peter Gulacsi from Hungarian club MTK Budapest in 2007 on an initial season-long deal which was made permanent in 2008.

While at Liverpool, Gulacsi went on loan to Hereford United, Tranmere Rovers and Hull City in the lower divisions of English football before joining Red Bull Salzburg in 2013 on a free transfer without making an appearance for the Liverpool first team.

The Hungarian won the domestic double in his first two seasons with the Austrian club before joining their sister club, RB Leipzig, in 2015. He helped Leipzig earn promotion to the Bundesliga in his first season and has been the club’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper in the German top-flight since while helping them qualify for the Champions League.

#2. Suso – AC Milan

Suso joined the Liverpool academy in 2010 amidst interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona before breaking into the first team during the 2012/13 season during which he made 20 appearances and recorded one assist.

The Spaniard spent the 2013/14 season on loan at Almeria scoring three goals and assisting nine more. However, he only made one more appearance for the Reds after returning from loan and scored his only goal for the club in that very game.

Suso joined AC Milan in January 2015 for only €1.3 million. He struggled to break into the Milan side initially and spent the second half of the 2015/16 season on loan at Genoa where he scored six goals and assisted two in 19 appearances.

Since the start of the 2016/17 season, the Spaniard has been a crucial player for the Milan team and he has gone on to play 126 games for the Serie A side while racking up 21 goals and 33 assists.

The 25-year-old’s performance for Milan also earned him a call-up to the national team and he has made two appearances for Spain so far.

#1. Raheem Sterling – Manchester City

Liverpool sold the other four players on this list willingly and they went on to find success elsewhere. However, Raheem Sterling was a success at Liverpool and the Reds were forced into selling him after he refused to sign a new contract.

Sterling signed for Liverpool in 2010 aged 15 from QPR for £600,000 and made his first-team debut at the tail end of the 2011/12 season. He went on to play 129 games for Liverpool scoring 23 goals and assisting a further 25 more.

The England international cost Man City £44 million with a potential £5 million in add-ons in 2015 but he has gone on to become one of their most important players at the club under Pep Guardiola. He has 63 goals and 63 assists for City in 181 games including 42 goals and 33 assists in 87 games since the start of the 2017/18 season.

The 24-year-old is arguably the best winger in the world at the moment and also one of the contenders for the PFA Player of the Year awards this season.