Defender Liverpool sold for £13.5m in new blow as loan ended amid progress fears

    Ki-Jana Hoever was, not long ago, on the cusp of the first team at Liverpool, but now his attitude and development are under serious question at Wolves.

    At the start of 2019, Hoever became the third-youngest player in history to make his debut for Liverpool, capping a remarkable rise through the academy ranks.

    Days before his 17th birthday, the Dutch defender replaced an injured Dejan Lovren six minutes into a 2-1 defeat to Wolves in the FA Cup third round, which was his first of four senior appearances for the Reds.

    But despite opportunities to progress under Jurgen Klopp, he then opted to move on in the summer of 2020, joining Wolves in a deal worth up to £13.5 million.

    Part of the negotiations that brought Diogo Jota to Anfield, Hoever’s switch offered the chance of a regular first-team place, though that has not developed as hoped.

    Instead, on Wednesday, the Midlands club confirmed his early return from a loan spell with PSV Eindhoven – that, itself, came after falling out of favour under former manager Bruno Lage.

    WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 7, 2019: Liverpool's substitute Ki-Jana Hoever on the bench before the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 7, 2019: Liverpool's substitute Ki-Jana Hoever on the bench before the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    Hoever only played eight times for PSV, of which four came as a starter, along with two appearances for their reserves, with Eindhovens Dagblad reporting that he “did not convince in exhibition games” during pre-season.

    The 21-year-old is now set to be loaned elsewhere for the remainder of the season, with seemingly no plans for him at Wolves yet despite Lage being replaced by Julen Lopetegui.

    Whether Lopetegui shares the same opinion as his predecessor is unclear, but Lage was vocal in his criticism of Hoever’s attitude back in March.

    “Ki is a good example of a young kid who wants everything to happen [now],” the manager told reporters after Hoever was forced off due to a muscle injury 25 minutes into a game.

    “When you are out or your team-mate is playing, you are not training with intensity or preparing yourselves.

    “Then, when you have the chance, these kinds of things happen.”

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 9, 2019: Liverpool's Ki-Jana Hoever before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 9, 2019: Liverpool's Ki-Jana Hoever before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    Lage added: “Injuries can happen but this one happened because he is not prepared. Sometimes Ki doesn’t work with the same intensity.

    “This warning is not just for Ki, but for the kids we have in our team.

    “They need to understand that I don’t waste time with guys who don’t work hard every day to improve.”

    Speaking to Voetbal International in the summer, Hoever admitted that he was “not always the easiest guy,” but vowed to prove his doubters wrong.

    For a player who could have broken through as a valuable player for Klopp at Liverpool, this is just the latest in a series of setbacks in his young career.

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