The benefits of the loan system were proved to a considerable degree in 2013-14 by the fortunes of the nine Liverpool first-team players who spent an extended period of time with another side.
From the unique challenges of fighting against relegation to the lifting of a trophy in Italian football to a pair of trips to Wembley for two aspiring youngsters, the temporary moves were eventful.
Throughout the season, Liverpoolfc.com has provided regular reports on the performances and achievements of the individuals plying their trade away from their parent club and Anfield.
With the campaign now at a conclusion, we reflect at length on how each player progressed during their loan switch, including detailed breakdowns on their overall form and improvement.
After a stop-start debut season at Anfield following his switch to the Reds from Dutch outfit Heerenveen in the summer of 2012, the Moroccan winger opted for a loan move to the Potteries and Stoke City at the outset of the last campaign. Although injuries would afflict the tricky, direct dribbler during his nine months at the Britannia Stadium, the temporary transfer proved hugely positive for all parties. The 25-year-old racked up 19 Barclays Premier League appearances out of a possible 36 - he was ineligible to face his parent club in either fixture - and contributed four goals for Mark Hughes' evolving side as they claimed an impressive ninth-place position in the division. That quartet of strikes included a stunning 90th-minute winner when Chelsea journeyed to Stoke, which was later nominated as the club's Goal of the Season. "I am happy they gave me a chance to play regularly," the man himself commented. "My time here has been a good one."
"I have a real belief in Fabio. I'm sure he'll get the chance to shine and we'll look closely at his development this year." So said Brendan Rodgers in September 2013, when news of the versatile Italian's loan to Sunderland had been officially announced. As it happened, there was plenty of progress for the Northern Irishman and his staff to keep track of. The opening stages of the season were testing for the Black Cats, prompting an alteration at the helm - Gus Poyet assumed the reins at the Stadium of Light - and Borini never looked back. A whistling effort that sealed three points from a North East derby with Newcastle United naturally endeared the forward to Mackems, as did his contribution to their surge to the Capital One Cup final. Goals against Chelsea and Manchester United in the knockout stages preceded a precise opener past Manchester City at Wembley, although ultimately Sunderland had to settle for runners-up. Nevertheless, Poyet's charges still faced the sizeable challenge of clambering out of the Premier League relegation zone. An escape seemed impossible until a 2-2 draw at City suggested a miracle could unfold; a spot-kick winner by Borini at Stamford Bridge three days later did nothing to dampen the sudden hope, and the 23-year-old was a central figure throughout a streak of results that rescued the team from Wearside. The Italy international departed with a record of 10 goals from 40 games, and was acknowledged as Sunderland's Young Player of the Year.
In watching Coady confidently express his ability during the Reds' post-season friendly victory over Shamrock Rovers, it was clear that the midfielder had returned to the club with an elevated level of confidence. 2012-13 and the arrival of Rodgers had brought a senior debut for the tough tackler, but experience elsewhere in England beckoned ahead of the new season - Sheffield United cemented interest by agreeing a six-month loan deal. The jovial character was involved from the start as the Blades weighed up the prospect of competing in League One, and his importance to the team grew exponentially following the appointment of former Reds midfielder Nigel Clough. Able to provide cover in numerous positions, Coady thrived, feeding on the passionate local support for the side; he featured in all but seven league fixtures as a promotion berth narrowly slipped out of reach. But a fairytale almost unfolded in the FA Cup. Eye-catching wins over Premier League teams Aston Villa and Fulham helped to carry United to a Wembley semi-final, where Coady completed the entire match, although the dream was ended with a 5-3 defeat by Hull City. Nevertheless, a hugely progressive campaign moved the 21-year-old to comment: "Hopefully I can show what I learned from being on loan. I've got nothing but good things to say about Sheffield United."
Amid an unforgettable summer tour of Indonesia, Australia and Thailand last pre-season, the displays of teenager Ibe enthralled teammates, staff and fans alike. His potent mix of pace, close control and end product generated instant reminders of Raheem Sterling, and it was the latter's consistent form that limited his younger colleague to semi-regular selection among the substitutes. So, in February, Ibe headed to Birmingham City for the remainder of the campaign with encouraging words from Rodgers ringing in his ears. The wide-man was gradually introduced to the bustle of life in the Championship by Lee Clark, but quickly served notice of his prodigious natural talent when he found the target during a 3-2 victory over Millwall. Collectively, events took a considerable turn for the worse, with a string of defeats leaving the Blues perilously close to relegation - only for drama to unfold on the final day. Trailing 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers with 12 minutes left on the clock, and therefore staring demotion to League One in the face, Birmingham rallied. Having joined the action as a substitute, Ibe was central to a remarkable comeback and it was his cross that forced a goalmouth scramble which ended with a crucial equaliser and hard-fought safety for Clark's charges. The on-loan Liverpool starlet promptly returned to Anfield and contributed a Man of the Match performance in the friendly win against Shamrock.
While Liverpool supporters await a maiden opportunity to see the Portuguese defender in first-team action since he joined the Rodgers project, the 21-year-old gained helpful experience from a temporary spell with La Liga outfit Granada from January. Injuries restricted Ilori on occasions during his half-season stay in Spain, but the athletic centre-back still racked up nine full games. He contributed to three clean sheets too, exhibiting his composure in possession and positional diligence. And there was an undoubted highlight - on April 12, Ilori was a decisive figure in shutting out the unlimited creative ammunition of Barcelona, guiding Granada to a memorable 1-0 triumph over the European heavyweights.
The recruitment of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet afforded his fellow custodian an opportunity to opt for a new challenge in 2013-14, and Reina selected Serie A contenders Napoli as his destination. Reunited with former boss Rafael Benitez, the Spain international joined a group of hungry and talented players keen to compete for trophies in Italy. And they achieved that aim too; Reina was a starting member of the team that successfully saw off Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia final in May and subsequently hoisted aloft the silverware. In league action, the stopper clocked up 30 appearances and recorded a respectable 10 clean sheets, while his time with Napoli brought opportunities to feature in both the Champions League and Europa League. The 31-year-old's form was acknowledged by inclusion in the Spanish squad that will attempt to retain the World Cup at the showpiece tournament in Brazil this summer.
Regarded highly enough to have been handed a senior debut for Liverpool as a 16-year-old, the left-back was determined to maintain his upward curve this season. With Jose Enrique established in the role under Rodgers, that meant a loan switch - with Blackpool more than happy to snap up the youngster for the entirety of the campaign. Life with the Tangerines could not have started better for the Englishman as a six-match unbeaten streak catapulted his temporary employers towards the summit of the Championship table. Things would become much tougher, however, and by the conclusion of 10 testing months, Blackpool took 20th place in the standings, avoiding relegation by just two points. On a personal level, Robinson was involved in 34 league encounters, only missing out on a greater number because of suspensions picked up through three red cards.
Spanish midfielder Suso is another member of the considerable brigade to have earned a first-team opportunity since the appointment of Rodgers as manager. The diminutive but skilled youngster, much talked about among the fan base given the obvious qualities he expressed at the Academy, enjoyed a series of chances after making his senior debut in 2012-13. When the Northern Irishman strengthened his options with eight new signings last summer, Suso pondered the most productive path for his development and ultimately selected a return to his home country and La Liga outfit Almeria. "For young players, the option of going on loan somewhere is a good thing for everyone," he commented midway through his season-long spell. "You have to learn, you have to improve and you have to play football." The 20-year-old did just that, featuring in 33 league matches as his temporary team mounted a battle to retain their place at the highest level of the Spanish game. Often positioned in a wide starting berth, Suso chipped in with three goals across the campaign, including a crucial winning strike at Espanyol as the season approached a climax in April. Almeria ultimately avoided relegation by one point - a fruitful ending for the aspiring youth international.
The powerful defender, who is capable of excelling at either full-back or centre-half, actually began the season at Anfield, featuring in three games. But, in late October, Rodgers temporarily moved the young Englishman to Derby County, and with it the promise of first-team football at Championship level. The switch proved an overwhelming success. Functioning on the right side of the Rams' backline, Wisdom was a consistent, composed presence, offering assurance and, on occasion, supporting attacks in the opposite direction. He played 34 times in league action, contributing considerably to Derby's third-place finish, and subsequently their qualification for the play-off final at Wembley. A thoroughly positive campaign that had ticked all the relevant boxes ended in heartbreak for the 21-year-old, though - despite dominating the all-important decider against Queens Park Rangers, Steve McClaren's side shipped a last-minute goal and were denied the thrill of promotion to the Premier League. Nevertheless, Wisdom can reflect on seven months of significant progress in his upward trajectory since making a maiden appearance for the Reds in 2012.