Liverpool under-23s captain George Johnston has joined Feyenoord on a permanent deal, with his route to a first-team role at Anfield increasingly difficult.
Johnston departs after initially signing a new contract with the Reds, having been named among those offered fresh terms back in June.
The 20-year-old spent part of pre-season with the senior squad, playing the second half in the 6-0 thrashing of Tranmere, but reported back to the U23s upon Dejan Lovren‘s return to training.
He then started against The Spartans FC, Hearts, Coventry and Anderlecht, and came off the bench in victory over Marine, as preparations for the Premier League 2 campaign began.
But now, Johnston leaves the armband behind as he heads to Rotterdam to join Eredivisie side Feyenoord, in a deal worth €300,000, including a 30 percent sell-on clause.
This is a bold move by the Scotland youth international, but comes with more opportunities available to young players in the Netherlands.
The agreement comes after Dirk Kuyt, now a youth coach at Feyenoord, contacted his former club to seek a recommendation.
Johnston arrived at Liverpool as a nine-year-old, and progressed through the ranks as an accomplished, ball-playing centre-back, whose leadership developed in recent years.
“George has been outstanding for us. His best trait is his consistency, he is a joy to work with,” the U23s manager said.
“I gave George the captaincy because we wanted him to develop more of his leadership skills, his communication and he has definitely developed his personality on and off the pitch this season.
“I think he is feeling more confident about himself as a person and that has transcended onto the pitch.
“George is someone you can rely on and you always want him in the trenches with you.”
However, his exit does leave the young Reds short in defence, with Whelan having moved to Phoenix Rising, Conor Masterson joining QPR, Juanma released and Rhys Williams on loan with Kidderminster Harriers.
This could see Hoever and Van den Berg regularly called upon at academy level, while Nat Phillips’ hopes of leaving the club in search of first-team football may have taken a blow.
This Is Anfield wishes George good luck in Rotterdam!