Sterling, Owen, Ibe: Liverpool's youngest players - Where are they now?

Sterling, Owen, Ibe: Liverpool's youngest players - Where are they now?

Trent Alexander-Arnold once again starred for Liverpool on Thursday night as the Reds advanced to the final of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 aggregate semi-final victory over Arsenal.

Alexander-Arnold, a Liverpool academy product, showed off his sublime passing ability to lay on the two goals for Diogo Jota which saw Jurgen Klopp’s men book their place at Wembley next month. 

The 23-year-old England international made his first-team debut for Liverpool at the age of 18 and was soon a fixture in matchday squads.

However, Liverpool have been known to give opportunities to those even younger at times.

In fact, in the Premier League era, the Merseyside club have handed full debuts to no less than 16 players under the age of 18.

A few have gone on to achieve international acclaim, while others have faded into obscurity altogether.

It’s undoubtedly a mixed bag but here – via Planet Football – is a look at how all 16 have fared since making their Liverpool debuts.

Where are they now? Liverpool’s 16 youngest debutants of the Premier League era

Melkamu Frauendorf (Debut v Shrewsbury, January 9, 2022)

The Reds most recent debutant, German youth international midfielder Frauendorf only made his first appearance earlier this month. Time will tell if he is to build on his brief FA Cup cameo. 

Melkamu Frauendorf on his Liverpool first-team debut

Kaide Gordon (Debut v Norwich, September 21, 2021)

Still only 17, Gordon is considered one of the brightest prospects among Liverpool’s current crop of youngsters.

The winger followed up his first-team debut in the EFL Cup last year by becoming the club’s second-youngest ever goalscorer when he found the net against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup at the start of January. 

He’s since made his full Premier League debut and started in an EFL Cup semi-final. Much more looks set to come.

Kaide Gordon has made a promising start to his Liverpool career

Tom Hill (Debut v Aston Villa, December 17, 2019)

When the Liverpool first-team ventured to Qatar to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2019, it provided an unexpected mid-season opportunity to a number of the club’s youngsters.

While Jurgen Klopp’s stars were doing battle with the likes of Monterrey and Flamengo in Western Asia, the Reds were also obliged to field a side for an EFL Cup quarter-final tie with Aston Villa. 

At 17 years old, midfielder Hill was the youngest member of a massively inexperienced Liverpool starting XI that went on to lose to the match 5-0.

Currently sidelined with a knee injury he sustained in September 2020, the cup outing remains his sole senior appearance for the club.

Tom Hill on his sole appearance for Liverpool

James Norris (Debut v Aston Villa, December 17, 2019)

Another debutant who took part in the Villa EFL Cup tie, defender Norris made his senior bow for the Reds with an eight-minute cameo at the end of the game.

A regular since with the Under-23s, Norris was back in first-team action earlier this month as he made a substitute appearance in the FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury. 

James Norris in action for Liverpool at youth level

Harvey Elliott (Debut v MK Dons, September 25, 2019)

Elliott became the youngest player ever to start a match for Liverpool when he lined up for them against MK Dons in 2019. 

Seven more first-team appearances followed for the 16-year-old across the 2019/20 campaign before Elliott spent a season on loan at Blackburn.

Having thoroughly impressed in his spell at Ewood Park, Elliott returned to the Reds’ first-team this past August – and was a regular in Klopp’s plans until an ankle injury sustained at Leeds in September took him out of action.

The Liverpool boss has already indicated his excitement at the prospect of having Elliott available for selection again. The best looks just to come from the young winder at Anfield. 

Harvey Elliott in action at Liverpool

Sepp van den Berg (Debut v MK Dons, September 25, 2019)

Centre-back Van den Berg made his Reds debut alongside Elliott in the aforementioned EFL Cup tie. He hasn’t, though, enjoyed comparable success since.

The Dutchman has gone on to make only three Liverpool appearances since (all in cup competitions).

He is currently out on loan at Preston North End. 

Sepp van den Berg celebrates a Liverpool victory

Ki-Jana Hoever (Debut v Wolves, January 7, 2019)

Hoever’s Liverpool career got off to an unexpected start as the 17-year-old was called off the bench to replace an injured Dejan Lovren in the opening minutes of an FA Cup tie at Molineux.

Only three further first-team appearances followed, though, before he was sold to Wolves (ironically) a year later for a fee of £9 million.

He has yet to establish himself as a regular in the West Midlands, either.

Ki-Jana Hoever on his Liverpool debut

Curtis Jones (Debut v Wolves, January 7, 2019)

Things might not have worked out as planned for Hoever after his Liverpool debut, but the same can’t be said about his former teammate Jones.

Since making his debut at the age of 17, the midfielder has gone on to make 61 appearances in all competitions for the Reds and is now a fixture in Klopp’s matchday squads.

Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring for Liverpool

Ben Woodburn (Debut v Sunderland, November 26, 2016)

Woodburn made a fantastic first impression on Liverpool fans when he scored against Leeds United in only his second appearance for the club, aged just 17.

That strike remains his only goal for the Anfield club, however. A series of loan spells with lower-division sides such as Sheffield United, Oxford and Blackpool failed to deliver much in front of goal either.

Now 22, Woodburn is on loan with Scottish Premier League side Hearts, where he’s scored three goals in 16 appearances. 

Ben Woodburn scoring his first Liverpool goal

Jordan Rossiter (Debut v Middlesbrough, September 23, 2014)

Academy product Rossiter made a splash on his Liverpool debut when he scored in an EFL Cup tie with Middlesborough. 

The central midfielder made only four more appearances for the Reds as his career stalled because of injury.

A switch to Rangers in 2016 wasn’t any kinder to Rossiter and he now plies his trade with Fleetwood Town in League One, where he is club captain. 

Rossiter celebrates on his Liverpool debut

Jordon Ibe (Debut v QPR, May 19, 2013)

Early in his Liverpool career, the sky looked to be the limit for tricky winger Ibe, who made his debut at the age of 17. 

While his time at Anfield never panned out as hoped, Bournemouth saw enough potential in Ibe to part with a club-record £15m fee in July 2016. After a disappointing five goals in 92 games across four seasons for the Cherries, the player was released at the end of his contract in June 2020.

Ibe did make one appearance for Derby County last season, but his time with the Rams was short-lived. He recently signed a deal with Turkish second-tier outfit Adanaspor as he attempts to revive his career.

Jordan Ibe on his Liverpool debut

Jerome Sinclair (Debut v West Brom, September 26, 2012)

Another reminder that potential isn’t always realised comes in the form of forward Sinclair. After making his debut at the age of 16, Sinclair managed just five first-team appearances in as many seasons for the Reds. 

A move to Watford – for a fee that was to become £4m – proved little more successful. Clocking up only 12 games for the Hornets, Sinclair spent most of his time at Vicarage Road out on loan.

He was released by Watford when his contract expired in 2021 – and has yet to find a new club. 

Jerome Sinclair in action for Liverpool

Raheem Sterling (Debut v Wigan, March 24, 2012)

Sterling’s achievements since leaving Anfield for Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in 2015 are hardly a secret.

With three Premier League titles to his name – and a fourth likely on the way this season – the £49m switch has worked out pretty well for the England star. 

Raheem Sterling in action for Manchester City against Liverpool

Jack Robinson (Debut v Hull, May 9, 2010)

Defender Robinson was handed his debut as a substitute three minutes from the end of Rafa Benitez’s reign as Liverpool manager. 

At the time, the cameo made him the youngest player to ever represent the club. However, Robinson ultimately found further first-team opportunities hard to come by – making just 11 before departing for QPR four years later.

Via a spell with Nottingham Forest, Robinson now plays for Sheffield United in the Championship.

Jack Robinson at Liverpool

Michael Owen (Debut v Wimbledon, May 6, 1997)

Owen hit the ground running on his Reds debut, scoring against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. It was just a taste of what was to come from the striker.

So outstanding was Owen in his prime for Liverpool that he won the Ballon d’Or in 2001, before injuries began to take their toll.

Spells with Real Madrid, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke followed, but Owen never came close to recapturing the form of his peak.

After retiring at the end of the 2012/13 season, Owen moved into punditry – and can still be seen on our screens on a weekly basis. 

Michael Owen at Liverpool

Phil Charnock (Debut v Apollon Limassol on September 16, 1992)

The final young Liverpool debutant of the Premier League era comes from the very early weeks of the competition’s existence, albeit in European action. 

Midfielder Phil Charnock became the youngest player ever to turn out for the Reds when he took the field for a Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Cypriot side Apollon Limassol aged 17. 

Charnock only made a handful of other appearances before leaving Anfield and dropping down the football pyramid.

That, however, wasn’t to be the end of his Liverpool journey.

Charnock would return to Merseyside to take charge of the Liverpool Under-12s side – a role that he still holds today at the age of 46.

Liverpool coach Phil Charnock

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