Liverpool: Stars of the future
Liverpool have a number of talented young stars - can they make it into the first-team this season?
Last season it was well documented how Liverpool were reliant on their youth to provide numbers in their first-team squad.
The departures of key players such as Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez left a hole of inexperience in the attacking department. Despite the club’s best efforts to fill the void, Liverpool failed to land their top transfer targets come the end of the summer window, leaving manager Brendan Rodgers little choice but to promote players from the reserves.
In total, seven starlets made debuts for the Reds last season and although Rodgers will hope he will not have to rely on his youngsters so heavily this season, the future looks bright on Merseyside.
The Hungarian arrived on Merseyside four years ago, joining the club’s Academy. Now aged 20, Adorjan has so far failed to make his first-team debut with expectations high in the seasons following his arrival. A regular for the U21s last season, Adorjan finished the league campaign with ten goals.
Throughout his development, the centre-forward was more productive in providing assists rather than goals, which perhaps has hindered his chances of becoming a first-team contender. At the start of July, Adorjan took a spell at Dutch club Groningen on trial, with a loan move reported to follow that.
Arguably the most likely candidate to become a consistent name in Rodgers’ match-day squad, Jordan Ibe made his competitive debut against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of last season (grabbing an assist in the process).
At 17 years of age, comparisons to Raheem Sterling have been made due to his energetic runs, eye for goal and clever footwork - some Liverpool fans will argue that Ibe is better suited than Sterling was a year ago because of his strong build and physical presence. Currently shining in Liverpool’s pre-season tour of Asia, Ibe is very highly rated at Anfield and one to watch this season.
Captain of Liverpool’s U18s, Jordan Lussey’s development has been hampered by injuries in the last few years. Regardless, the promising central midfielder has an extensive passing range and has been likened to Steven Gerrard as a result of his ethic and long-range goals.
Though player comparisons are dangerous territory in football, the eighteen-year-old’s attitude has not gone unnoticed at Anfield as he was promoted to the U21 squad last season. It may still be too early for Lussey to make his debut, especially given the reduced number of fixtures Liverpool will play compared to last year, but it is fair to say Liverpool have a promising youngster on their hands.
The Northern-Irish right back is highly regarded at Melwood, and having recently signed a three-year contract extension the 18-year-old will be hoping he can show Brendan Rodgers he has what it takes to make the cut. McLaughlin has stated that he learns from the likes of Dani Alves and Glen Johnson, watching videos to develop his attacking side of the game. Known for his ruthless tackling and tendency to push forward down the right flank, McLaughlin fits the bill of Rodgers style of play.
But with significant competition in Johnson, Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdom and Jon Flanagan for the full-back slot, McLaughlin may find his path to the first team a little trickier than others.
The athletic centre-back is another who is highly regarded in the U21s; a muscular player with a likeliness to Daniel Agger in his desire to join the attack and unleash a powerful strike.
He was handed a squad number by Rodgers last year while on tour during pre-season and appeared alongside Jamie Carragher, producing confident performances in three friendlies. But while he continued to wait for his competitive debut he was a key player for the U21s, though his season was arguably shadowed by some sloppy red cards – a part of his game he will have to improve if he is to mount a serious first team challenge.
Jerome Sinclair currently stands in the Liverpool history books as the youngest player to represent the Reds at sixteen years and six days.
Rodgers handed the youngster his debut in the League Cup third-round tie against West Bromwich Albion in the 81st minute. Renowned as a goalscorer, the young striker may still yet lack enough experience to feature in Rodgers' first-team plans but nonetheless is anticipated to have a fruitful career at Anfield by staff. Still only 16, Sinclair finished the U18 top scorer for the club with eleven goals in twenty-two games.
The German born striker arrived from Bayer Leverkusen last summer. Relatively unknown in England, his goal scoring form in Germany at youth level for club and country led to Brendan Rodgers signing the hot prospect. Yesil made two appearances for the first team last season but was seen as one for the future.
This season, Yesil will hope he can build upon his good start of four goals in five games which was unfortunately halted by injury. Injuries to the likes of Daniel Sturridge or Fabio Borini may be Yesil’s only path to the first team this season but his reputation for goal-getting cannot be underestimated.
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