He may have failed to register so much as a millisecond of playing time for Liverpool since signing from Sporting Lisbon last summer, but the future looks bright for Tiago Ilori.
Even before arriving on Merseyside he’d amassed a mere 12 starts for the Sporting first team.
Yet, since being sent on loan to La Liga strugglers Granada in January, he has scattered some sensational performances in among his six starts for Lucas Alcaraz’s side.
In his absence, Liverpool have kept just four clean sheets in 15 away games, a record which they’re 23/20 to improve against Crystal Palace next time out.
The London-born Portuguese was an all action man of the match in the 1-0 win over Real Betis that has done much to give his side a modicum of breathing space from relegation matters.
During a match evenly balanced enough to yield a 50/50 possession breakdown, his monster 13 clearances was equally important in securing victory as his 31st-minute assist for Piti’s decisive goal.
Those unconvinced by his thwarting of La Liga’s most lowly side are pointed in the direction of the on-loan Anfielder’s starring role in Granada’s coupon-demolishing victory over Barcelona.
He defied a Blaugrana attack including Lionel Messi, Neymar, Pedro, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, along with tag-team partner keeper Orestis Karnezis, to lead his side to a famous Los Carmenes success.
Ten more clearances against the champions included one off the line and Ilori’s statistics in Spain paint a picture of the kind of centre-half whose game-reading instincts are his strong point.
While he hasn’t produced such sterling work in every outing, it’s fair to allow for some inconsistency in one so inexperienced, especially in a side so out of form as Granada, who have lost five of their last six.
An average of 3.2 interceptions a fixture is 1.2 per game more than any player in the Liverpool squad this term, while only Martin Skrtel bests his mean eight clearances every 90 minutes.