The agent of Liverpool striker Bobby Duncan has released a statement accusing Michael Edwards of bullying and citing mental health concerns.
Duncan, signed from Manchester City last season, had look set for a move away from Anfield, but that was apparently blocked by the club with media outlets seemingly briefed on Tuesday that the 18-year-old would be staying at Anfield.
Danish side FC Nordsjaelland and, most recently, Serie A club Fiorentina are understood to have been interested, but Liverpool have blocked loan moves for the player, who is the cousin of Steven Gerrard and now his agent Saif Rubie issued a scathing statement of Liverpool and sporting director Edwards.
“There has been a lot of things said the last few weeks regarding Bobby Duncan’s future at Liverpool,” Rubie wrote.
“And today is the final straw of the behaviour and dealing of Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards.
“A few months ago before the end of last season, Bobby had meetings with the club’s hierarchy including academy director Alex Inglethorpe.
“It was recognised that Bobby wasn’t happy at Liverpool for different reasons and Alex invited us to bring offers to the club for the exit of Bobby Duncan.
“For a player with zero first-team experience, no clubs were prepared to pay an outright reasonable fee for a player they got for £200,000 last summer.
“With that in mind we have been able to find clubs that were ready to take Bobby on a season-long loan with a option to buy for amounts of £1.5million upwards which is a great return for the club on a player who will never play for the Liverpool first team and who doesn’t want to be there.
“The club and Michael Edwards specifically made it clear that that kind of deal wouldn’t work.
— Saif Rubie (@saifpr) August 28, 2019
“So then myself and my team worked even harder and managed to get a deal on the table for a loan with an obligation to buy after five starts with a higher transfer fee than before and a sell-on to Liverpool.
“Putting all of that aside, the real reason Bobby missed the under-23 game on Monday is because he has suffered some deep mental health issues with all the stress the club has put him under.
“Stress of being told he can leave but then going out of their way to force him to stay against his will.
“Not only is he on a very small salary but he also has one season left on his contract after this one and Liverpool have flatly said he will not get a new one.
“Bobby has not left his room for four days because of this and will never go back to Liverpool again and my only concern now is his mental health and well-being.
“The Liverpool hierarchy have shown zero consideration to that and have even gone as far as saying in writing that they will punish him and make him stay at the club until January and beyond to teach him a lesson.
“This is not really dignified behaviour from a club with the rich history of Liverpool and one whom one of their greatest-ever players, Steven Gerrard, happens to be Bobby’s cousin.
“It’s a sad state of affairs that a club such as Liverpool can be allowed to get away with mentally bullying and destroying the life of a young man such as Bobby.
“I know one thing for sure, and that is he is never going back there again and he’s on such a small salary that no amount of fines will even make a difference.
“In this situation all that matters is the player’s health and in this case Michael Edwards has totally ignored that because of his own stubbornness and I really pray that his experience doesn’t happen to any young players again.”