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Striker Liverpool sold for £6.5m is now ‘most clinical’ in the Premier League


Liverpool’s decision to sell Taiwo Awoniyi for £6.5 million was seen as a masterstroke, but the Nigerian is now the Premier League‘s most clinical striker.

Having spent six years on the books with no first-team appearance, with seven loan spells abroad as a UK work permit eluded him, Liverpool cut ties with Awoniyi in 2021.

The striker joined Union Berlin on a permanent deal, with the Reds banking a £6.1 million profit which was boosted by a further £1.5 million upon his move to Nottingham Forest in 2022.

While that was viewed as smart business, Awoniyi’s impressive form since debuting in the Premier League may have forced a rethink.

Saturday saw Awoniyi open the scoring in Forest’s 2-0 victory over West Ham, which was his 16th league goal for the club and his 17th in all competitions.

In analysis for Sky Sports this week, it was revealed that, since his return to England, no striker in the Premier League has a better conversion rate.

Awoniyi is scoring with 28.6 percent of his shots in the English top flight, which is more than Erling Haaland (26.1%), Hee-chan Hwang (24.1%), Callum Wilson (24%) and Harry Kane (23.1%) over the past two seasons.

Diogo Jota (22.5%) is joint-sixth in the list alongside Alexander Isak (22.5%), and the best among Liverpool players, while Ivan Toney (21.4%) is not far behind.

While Haaland, Wilson, Isak and Toney have all outscored Awoniyi in that time, it is a hugely impressive statistic.

That is particularly so given Forest finished 16th last season and are currently 16th again this term.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 22, 2023: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (R) is challenged by Nottingham Forest's Taiwo Awoniyi during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It raises the question of how the 26-year-old would fare if he joined another club higher up the Premier League – and certainly if he was to have stayed at Liverpool.

Ironically, Awoniyi had finally been granted a UK work permit in the summer he left for Union Berlin, which saw him briefly join pre-season training under Jurgen Klopp.

But with Jota, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all cemented as key players, and Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi not pushing for the exit, the pathway was blocked.

“What I find most interesting about it is it’s not like Erling Haaland, where he gets chances by bunches,” former Leeds manager Jesse Marsch noted in the Sky Sports studio.

“[Awoniyi] gets maybe two chances a match, and now he has to be sharp and ready to convert in those moments.

“It’s almost like a goalkeeper playing for Man City, playing striker for Nottingham Forest, they’re not coming to you all the time.

“But the fact that he’s ready, that he’s in good spots – that’s what that [stat] is a measure of to me.”