This season has seen three academy players develop into fringe players on the brink of becoming regulars in the first team. In the first part of the season, Raheem Sterling was a constant starter on the left wing; however the emergence of Phillipe Coutinho and a thigh injury has limited his appearance to still an impressive twenty four. At only 18 years old Sterling has become one of the most promising young players in the world. Secondly came the emergence of Suso Fernandez, a tricky and clever attacking midfielder capable of playing on the wing Suso has racked up 12 appearances at the age of 19 years old. Rodgers faith in young players continued after injury to Enrique earlier on in the season Johnson was moved to the left hand side and Andre Wisdom was brought in to deputise after impressive performance against Young Boys in the Europa League, the 19 year old has gone on to make 11 appearances
Rodgers came into the club stating that, ‘age wasn’t an issue if you were good enough you will play’ and his faith in Sterling, Suso and Wisdom went on to prove that. The Liverpool Under 21 squad has been performing consistently well and boasts really good quality players which are very much capable of breaking into the first team. Under Rafa Benitez the Academy seemed useless and under used however now it is in full flow and producing amazing players.
Ryan McLaughlin (RB/RW)
We first saw Ryan McLaughlin challenging the legendary Francesco Totti in a pre season friendly at Fenway Park; he kept the Italian fairly quiet that day. In the Under 21’s McLaughlin hasn’t just been an impressive defender but he offers such a threat going forward, which is a major part in the attacking football which Rodgers prefers. Glen Johnson has been a constant stalwart of the Right Back slot, and for good reason, but with Kelly likely to be converted into a Center-Back and Jon Flanagan nowhere near possessing the talent of this Northern Irishman. Next season I expect to be Right Back cover racking up appearances, he could certainly be the long term replacement for Glen Johnson with the right exposure to the first team.
Connor Coady (CM/DM)
For many years now Coady has been muted as a successor to Steven Gerrard, a Scouser with amazing versatility. His box to box midfielder who has shown his quality in a deeper role similar to that of Lucas. With Allen being unable to cement his position in the starting line up and then injury Coady could get his chance to deputize Lucas as the season draws to an end. A loan deal could be useful but only to either a Premier League club or a challenging Championship team.
Joao Carlos Teixerra (MF)
A Midfielder capable of playing practically anywhere in the midfield, he was signed from the impressive Sporting Lisbon academy after an exciting performance at Anfield in the NextGen Series for a £1million fee. The suffered a serious injury which hampered his development last season but now has become an ever constant in the Under 21 with constantly notable performances. Alex Inglethorpe has already stated that the player is exciting and talented enough to break into the first team squad. The midfield is pretty packed with Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson, Allen, Shelvey and Suso. Given his opportunity, Teixerra could put himself well in the mix.
Jordan Ibe (W/FW)
At just 16 years old Ibe made his first league appearance for Wycombe Wanders, he was highly touted and scouted by numerous top teams, but eventually he signed for Liverpool in a deal worth up to £1million. Ibe has developed through making impressive and sharp performances which have led to him being dubbed the next Sterling. They are both similar players with a similar build, both pacey and tricky to be contained. Ibe has been a favorite with Rodgers being named as an unused sub in a few of the last few games; it’s only a matter of time before Ibe gets his chance to impress.
Samed Yesil (FW) – Young German striker who was signed in the summer from Bayer Leverkusen for £1million an out and out striker who can be very clinical in front of goal. His time could come if Borini is sold in the summer, however I predict another season in the Under 21’s before he can make his mark.
Adam Morgan (FW) – A natural finisher, a goalscorer and not much more. He reminds me of a Kuyt who plays with so much grit and determination. A Scouse lad who could get his chance again in Pre Season, impressive performances there and he could challenge for a substitute role next season.
Krisztian Adorjan (FW) – The Hungarian seems to get better and better, he plays more of a second striker than an out and out striker like Yesil and Morgan. Sadly this is a rich position in the Liverpool squad and he could see his chances limited an impressive loan spell away might put him in better contention.
Nacho (MF) – Creative, technically gifted and clinical just as you would expect a Spanish player to be. The way Rodgers is treating the youth an opportunity will be there for players like Nacho to take and place them right in contention.
Danny Ward (GK) – With Jones not in the same league as Reina and Gulasci not close to the first team, Ward could move himself up to becoming Liverpool’s second choice keeper with ease next season.