At the age of 25, the Liverpool record holder and “next Michael Owen” is lost in the football desert
On Sunday, Arsenal continued their perfect start to the season. However, all the attention following the game was on a substitution made by Mikel Arteta in the last seconds.
In the last minutes of the game, Arteta decided to insert Ethan Nwaneri into the action even though his team was already up 3-0 over Brentford. And by doing so, Nwaneri made history by becoming the Premier League’s youngest player ever.
Harvey Elliott, who held the previous record at 16 years and 30 days old when he made his Premier League debut for Fulham in May 2019, was surpassed by Nwaneri, who is 15 years and 181 days old. The boy and his family will always remember that day.
However, Arteta’s action prompted some Liverpool fans to wonder online who their team’s youngest-ever player was. Jerome Sinclair is the solution, of course. Yes, keep him in mind.
Prior to joining Liverpool at the age of 14, his career got off to a strong start with West Brom. Then, on September 26, 2012, in a 2-1 League Cup victory against Albion, he came off the bench to make his senior Reds debut, taking Samed Yesil’s place. He was only 16 years and 6 days old at the time.
After being sidelined for a season due to injury, he quickly came back strong and scored goals for Liverpool’s youth teams at various age groups. Due to Academy players like Sinclair, then-Reds manager Brendan Rodgers claimed the Anfield club had a “bright” future ahead of them as a result of that strong success.
And Sinclair wasn’t the only one who attracted Rodgers’ notice. Jamie Carragher, a former Reds player, was glowing in his praise for the winger after his impressive performance for Liverpool U21s against Chelsea, during which he scored.
It was a fantastic finale, he added. He left the defender for dead, then on his weaker foot displayed amazing speed and poise.
Sheyi Ojo, another player on this team, has been loaned out to Wigan. The next stage for Jerome is that. Jerome entering the Liverpool first team right away seems like a lot to ask. There are currently enough strikers available.
“He needs to go out on loan, play some games, and show he can play in the men’s game. He should go on the preseason tour and impress Brendan Rodgers at the start of the upcoming season.
I’m hoping he has a successful future so I can tell people I played with Jerome Sinclair, he said before adding.
“The Academy has specialized coaches at all levels. Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, and Rob Jones enter and impart advice, and it appears like Jerome has been paying attention.
In March 2015, Sinclair—now 18 years old—moved to Wigan Athletic of the Championship on a youth loan. He made just one appearance there before coming back to the team. He came on against league champions Chelsea in May of that year to make his Premier League debut for the Reds.
He would make another appearance for the Reds in a 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace a week later. The contest most associated with Steven Gerrard’s final appearance for Liverpool at Anfield.
But as the year came to a conclusion, relations between Sinclair and Liverpool started to deteriorate. He chose to switch agents, which did not improve the circumstance.
Sinclair chose Aidy Ward to be his representative as his contract with Liverpool neared its final few months. Ward and the Anfield Chiefs, though, had a past.
Before collaborating with Sinclair, Ward was notorious for orchestrating Raheem Sterling’s contentious departure from Anfield. He launched an unusual attack on the team in an effort to get a transfer to Manchester City approved.
Even if Sterling were offered “£900,000 per week,” according to Ward, he wouldn’t sign a new contract because he “didn’t care” about Liverpool’s reputation. In the end, Sterling did get what he wanted, but only after City agreed to pay the Reds’ £49 million asking price.
By this point, Jurgen Klopp had succeeded Brendan Rodgers as manager of Liverpool. Additionally, as the ECHO noted at the time, a significant gap existed between the conditions Liverpool was prepared to accept and those Sinclair’s camp were seeking.
At Liverpool, Sinclair would play for Klopp. He received a start in the third round of the FA Cup on the road against Exeter City, where he scored the team’s opening goal in the 12th minute. But soon after, he stated that he would like to play abroad and that he will be leaving at the end of the current season.
At the end of that month, Watford made a £1.5 million offer, but Liverpool turned it down because Sinclair wanted to play abroad. While Liverpool accepted a £4 million deal from Bournemouth in April, the player rejected the offer this time.
But as soon as the season was over and Sinclair’s contract was about to expire, he agreed to a four-year agreement with Watford. The Instagram feed of Sinclair’s agents, Colossal Sports Management, included a photo of him signing his contract with the Hornets.
The Reds obtained a £4 million fee for the winger through a tribunal, but Klopp of the Kop was not pleased with the player’s performance.
The goal, he said, is to make it clear to younger players that earning the biggest salary possible in the first year of a career is not crucial.
Money talks, then. Jerome is a genuine talent, and I have no issues if he wants to continue with us. We cannot compel it if it doesn’t.
However, the England youth international struggled in his debut campaign at Vicarage Road. In the January transfer window, he joined Championship team Birmingham City on loan after making one start and four substitute appearances in the Premier League.
But following three straight starts, Sinclair didn’t appear in any of his team’s next 11 games. When discussing his departure from Anfield in January 2017, Sinclair said it was for the betterment of his career and defended moving to Vicarage Road.
According to him, it was a great chance to advance his career at a developing club. You can tell how far the club has come by the fact that when I played here three years ago in an FA Youth Cup match, one half of the stadium was missing.
“We’re working to solidify our position in the Premier League and advance toward those European spots. It is crucial for the young players to understand that a route to the first team exists.
The now-25-year-old, who is still represented by Ward, became involved in yet another dispute on deadline day in the summer of 2017.
Sinclair was supposed to go on loan to play for Championship team Sheffield United, but the deal fell through. And a wonderful, perceptive video from Bleacher Report clarified the reason why, with agent Ward appearing to be a key player.
On the final day of the transfer window, Sheffield United provided Bleacher Report access behind-the-scenes so they could follow then-Blades manager Chris Wilder as he tried to seal several transactions before the market closed.
In the video, Wilder can be heard telling Carl Schieber, his head of football operations, that a transfer to Sinclair was “all done” and only needed a signature on Thursday morning. It turns out that Sinclair’s agent, who is believed to be Ward, has told the team that the player is traveling to Sheffield to complete the transfer.
By early afternoon, though, Sinclair was still unable to be found, and frightened Wilder texted the agent to inquire about the situation. When he learns Sinclair is still living in Watford, he calls to try to persuade him to relocate to the north for the season.
He is shown attempting to persuade the youngster to support Sheffield United and their playing style. However, a few hours later, Ward texts to say that the conditions of the contract have altered, causing Wilder to yank the plug.
The agent requested a doubling of his fee, which United refused to accept, according to Wilder and Schieber. Similar problems caused a move for another of Ward’s clients, Domingos Quina, a youngster who was then a West Ham player, to fail.
Later, it is discovered that Sinclair is waiting for instructions from his agent while waiting at Sheffield train station. Despite Wilder’s insistence that the player wants to join, the move is not renewed.
Sinclair vehemently criticized the “one-sided” and “misleading” video on Twitter in the days after its release.
He stated: “This video is extremely biased and deceptive. Although I was approached, nothing was agreed upon. I’m enjoying my time at Watford very much and am eager for the new campaign. Don’t take anything you read or see at face value!”
But after only five appearances for Watford that year, he was loaned out to Sunderland for the following campaign, where he played 13 games before his loan was terminated.
When asked about Sinclair, Sunderland manager Jack Ross responded, “He is such a great boy, but it simply hasn’t worked for him here and that’s a tragedy not only for us, but also for him.”
He’ll return to Watford, assess his situation, and decide where to go from there. I can’t say enough good things about him, his attitude, and his training style. Even while not on the squad, he hasn’t been a bother at all.
He quickly left for Oxford to finish the 2018–19 season after returning from Sunderland, where he scored four goals in 16 games and won over the supporter base.
After that, a loan transfer to Dutch club VVV-Venlo occurred. In 29 games across all leagues, he scored three goals and registered one assist.
At the start of the 2020–21 season, he made two League Cup appearances for Watford before joining CSKA Sofia on loan. Before returning to England, when his contract at Watford expired in the summer of 2021, he made one goal in eighteen league games in Bulgaria.
Following that, a year went by before Sinclair, who apparently is no longer represented by Ward, returned to Oxford United on a trial basis during the summer. He played his first game in over a year during a friendly against Banbury United. Throughout the summer, he would still play for the U’s.
The winger, who was once dubbed the future Michael Owen, is currently without a club at the age of 25. However, nothing came from trial once the EFL season got underway.
It would be a stretch to suggest that Sinclair’s career has only taken one direction since leaving Anfield, despite the fact that he is still the youngest player to ever don a Liverpool shirt in a competitive match.