Ten young Liverpool defenders who failed to make the grade – from Ayala to Wilson

The careers of Andre Wisdom and Tiago Ilori are at something of a crossroads this summer. Both players are now 22 and are at the stage where they need to be making an impact on the bigger stage.

Wisdom signed a new contract this summer and went on our tour of the Far East. Unfortunately, he featured for just 45 minutes and is now preparing for a third successive season out on loan, this time with Norwich City.

Liverpool paid £7m for Ilori two summers ago (via the Echo), an immense amount of money for a player who has never featured in a single minute of first-team football for his parent club. He impressed at the European Under-21 Championships earlier this year, but the sheer number of players ahead of him in the pecking order suggest that chances to show what he can do are going to be few and far between.

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Sadly, not every academy graduate can become the next Jamie Carragher, or even the next Jon Flanagan. In the list below, we look back at ten young defenders who have failed to make their mark over the last decade.

Daniel Ayala

Liverpool signed the young Spaniard from Sevilla in 2007. The teenager helped our reserve side to league glory in his debut season and was widely expected to kick on. Unfortunately, loan spells with Hull City and Derby County failed to produced the desired results and he ended up joining Norwich in 2011, having made just five appearances for our first-team. He’s now at Middlesbrough and seems to have found his level with the Championship side.

Sebastian Coates

This was a case of what might have been. The Uruguayan, who has regularly played in the same international side as Luis Suarez and co, was one of the highest rated defenders in world football when we signed him in 2011. Sadly, injury problems hugely limited his impact at Anfield and he spent more than a year on the sidelines. He joined Sunderland on loan last season and, having helped guide the Black Cats to survival, made the move permanent.

Stephen Darby

Darby was promoted from our academy side in 2006. He spent the next six years trying to make the grade, undertaking loan spells with Swindon, Notts County and Rochdale, and was dubbed ‘Mr. Consistency’ by our reserve team boss Gary Ablett. He made his solitary Premier League appearance as a late substitute in January 2010, coming on for Philipp Degen against Tottenham. He moved to Bradford in 2012, where he is club captain.

sebastian coates

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