It is a promising time for Liverpool’s academy, with a host of players given first-team exposure and others making big steps in the youth ranks. But who is worth watching?
Under the guidance of academy director Alex Inglethorpe and the attention of Jurgen Klopp, Pepijn Lijnders and Vitor Matos, youth is thriving on Merseyside.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has set the benchmark for those looking to break through, but the likes of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Caoimhin Kelleher and Neco Williams are all role models for the next generation.
There are a number from the under-23s and under-18s squads who stand a strong chance of stepping up to the senior stage, with three having already made their debuts this season.
Here are 10 Liverpool academy players to watch out for in 2021/22.
But the versatile, combative midfielder seems primed for a bright future under Klopp, and at 18 is already a first-choice starter for the U23s and captain for the under-19s in the UEFA Youth League.
There is a fearlessness to his play that allowed him to slot in so effectively at Carrow Road, while his quality on the ball is a real outlet for the young Reds – as shown with his assist for Melkamu Frauendorf against Porto.
Position: Left-back, centre-back
Chambers only made 12 appearances for the U18s last season, as backup to James Norris, but a first professional contract over the summer has paved the way for a prominent role this time out.
The teenager looks to have grown dramatically in stature and strength, and has proved his versatility already this term with a stint at centre-back in the UEFA Youth League.
Naturally, though, he is a left-back, who has shown intelligence and creativity to his aggressive play down the wing, including a powerful effort that set up Harvey Blair’s goal for the U18s against Sunderland.
After an immediate impact in his first season with Liverpool – following up a move from Hoffenheim with seven goals and four assists in 23 games for the U18s – Frauendorf has kept it up this campaign, with three goals and three assists in seven outings so far.
A flexible midfielder who still has work to do in his concentration and physicality, Frauendorf has clearly earned patience among coaches due to his finesse and work rate.
With a balance of finishing and creative prowess, matched with an ability to play a number of roles, the young German could step up to the U23s before the end of the season.
With Layton Stewart out with a long-term injury and Max Woltman now a full-time member of the U23s squad, Cannonier has stepped up in style as the U18s’ first-choice striker.
The artist formerly known as Alexander-Arnold’s ball-boy is carving out a reputation as a deadly finisher at Kirkby, with 11 goals in six games in the U18
Wearing the No. 9, the diminutive striker leads the line like many of his famous predecessors, pairing a predatory instinct with the high-pressing attitude required in Liverpool’s system.
Position: Right winger
Gordon is widely considered the jewel in Liverpool’s academy, having caught the eye of Klopp’s assistant Lijnders during the first week of academy pre-season before stepping up to the first-team stage.
The 17-year-old’s debut against Norwich was natural progression, while his status as the club’s fifth-youngest player ever is testament to his ability, potential and esteem.
While the club are cautious not to overexpose the £3 million signing from Derby, he has already impressed in outings with the U23s and U19s this season, and that is only likely to continue.
Position: Attacking midfielder
If it hadn’t been for an unfortunate arm injury, however, the silky, never-say-die midfielder may have already joined the likes of Gordon and Morton on Klopp’s radar in pre-season.
For now, Balagizi is focused on making the step up from U18s to U23s on a permanent basis, with his relentless, fluid style of midfield play making him a rare asset for Liverpool.
It may not be a prime generation for Spain at senior level, but there is a goldmine of talent coming through in their youth ranks, with Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati the new poster boys.
When their under-18s won the Lafarge Foot Avenir tournament in France last month, then, it was telling that manager Pablo Amo included Liverpool centre-back Bajcetic as one of only five overseas players in his squad.
Not yet 17, Bajcetic is already a first-choice starter for Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s U18s, with his long forays up the middle of the pitch becoming a trademark just like Joel Matip.
Even the coaches working on a daily basis with Beck must be surprised with how much, and how quickly, he has come on since his first taste of U18s football in 2019.
When he arrived from Stoke, the young Welshman will have been one of the smallest players in the academy, but he has grown both physically and mentally to find himself on the cusp of the first team.
He and Conor Bradley are a well-tuned pair on either side of the defence, and their blend of defensive strength and attacking thrust will make them attractive options for the senior staff.
Davies is something of a surprise success story for the academy, having risen from training goalkeeper status to impress Klopp and his coaches in a rare opportunity last season.
With Liverpool unable to include either Marcelo Pitaluga or Jakub Ojrzynski in their Champions League squad, the young Scouser ended up making the bench against RB Leipzig and in both meetings with Real Madrid.
Now, he is starting for the U18s, U19s and against senior opposition in the EFL Trophy, with Davies vying with Pitaluga as the next young goalkeeper to make the grade.
Position: Attacking midfielder
But Clark is worthy of a mention as the player most likely to be fast-tracked through the ranks, following his summer move from Newcastle that could be worth up to £1.5 million.
A sharp, well-rounded attacking midfielder, the 16-year-old scored on his debut and recently laid on his first assist, too, with the challenge now to find consistency and keep progressing after a strong start.
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