LIVERPOOL prodigy Ovie Ejaria admits he found it painful to be dumped by Arsenal – but his progress since has been a welcome surprise.
The centre-midfielder has bounced back from his disappointing end at the Emirates to rise up through the Reds’ youth set-up.
Ejaria has been on the fringes of the Liverpool first team this season, and Jurgen Klopp has begun rewarding the 18-year-old.
The England Under-20 international, who made his senior debut against Derby in the EFL Cup, was named on the bench in the Premier League at Chelsea and started against Tottenham on Tuesday.
Who is Ovie Ejaria? Everything you should know about the Liverpool youngster
He impressed at Anfield in the 2-1 victory this week, but the jump from being left without a club to starting for Liverpool in two years still has him shocked.
“It was tough,” Ejaria told the Liverpool Echo on how Arsenal let him go. “And it came as a bit of a shock, to be honest.
“But I was fortunate enough to have offers from a number of clubs at different levels, some others in the London area and some up north too.
“I chose Liverpool and I’m pleased that I did.”
Ejaria was at Arsenal from the age of seven, but he was deemed not good enough to stay in north London.
Michael Beale, Liverpool’s Under-23s coach, gave him another opportunity though, and the midfielder’s move up north has proved successful.
Ejaria added: “It’s happened so quickly. 12 months ago I wouldn’t have thought that this would have taken place, but of course I’m very happy that it has.
“Things have changed in a short space of time for me but it’s been really good.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learnt since coming to Liverpool is becoming more independent. After a while everything became more familiar and I started to enjoy myself more so that helped a lot.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here at Liverpool so far and I hope I will have many more good times with the club in the future.”
Following his latest EFL Cup display, Ejaria could earn himself a place on the Liverpool bench once again when they travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday (5.30pm).