Modern day journalism has seemingly conjured an unofficial synergy between news outlets and YouTube and one in which has sparked a robotic yet excusable response from devoted football fans. The fabrication of a club’s ‘latest’ transfer target, no matter how believable, now triggers a torrent of cyber scouting by supporters.
A click or two later online and there awaits a selection of videos sporting the title ‘Welcome to Liverpool’ plagued by the irritating background music that accompanies footage of a future Anfield star. Lazar Markovic was to be Liverpool’s next speed demon and a justifiable means in which to spend the Luis Suarez money. Tiago Ilori would become the club’s ambassador for modern day football, the centre-back cultivated to implement both grace and assured defending to the game. That’s what YouTube had Reds believe, anyway.
Rarely are such exhibitions of a player’s talent taken too seriously yet the virtual introduction to Liverpool youngster Bobby Adekanye certainly had and still has fans intrigued by what he has to offer. Undeniable potential is yet to have materialised into anything more, though, and things have gone quiet as far as coverage of the 18-year-old’s development is concerned.
Adekanye, 16 at the time, arrived as Liverpool’s seventh signing in the 2015 summer transfer window having found himself as the subject of a dispute between his former employers Barcelona and FIFA. He was deemed to have been signed illegally from Ajax by the Catalan giants in 2011 and, following a loan spell at PSV Eindhoven during the 2014/15 campaign, decided not to sign a new deal and subsequently moved to Merseyside as a free agent.
His introduction bolstered a pool of youth prospects similarly blessed with the pace, athleticism and flair designed to supposedly help construct a dynamic attacking force that would serve Liverpool for years to come. The Nigerian-born teenager is as conventional a left-footed winger as one would expect to see and, if YouTube videos are to be perceived as an accurate representation, dominated games throughout the early stages of his career. Admittedly loose yet albeit promising early comparisons between himself and personal idol Arjen Robben have primarily fuelled excitement surrounding his qualities. He functions as a free-flowing attacking midfielder with the speed, directness and power that allows him to threaten as a playmaker from both flanks. There is an obvious self-belief to his approach, somewhat showcased by the way he strives to stand out, whether that be attempting an audacious finish or the skill he tries to beat his marker with.
Wide-men are in demand at Liverpool and a breakout 2017 could reinvigorate his position as the club’s future, especially given Jurgen Klopp’s dedication to handing youngsters valuable first team opportunities. Such a revival could prove timely with the appointment of club legend Steven Gerrard as the U18s manager for next season sure to be a vital opening for the injury-stricken starlet to make his mark. Not only does this invite him to polish his technical attributes but it promises to be priceless in terms of him, under the guidance of a perfect role model for any upcoming Red, understanding what attitude he must work with and what it means to play for this club. Neither the rise to fame for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn and Ovie Ejaria nor Rhian Brewster’s step up to the U23s pose as setbacks for Adekanye but instead represent a pedestal for what he can and must match.
A sense of disappointment inevitably creeps in alongside the realisation that next season must be a standout one for him. Fellow winger Sheyi Ojo faces the same situation to a more career-defining extent and it is up to Adekanye to visibly compete with a man he possesses similar traits to and one that Klopp will be keeping a watchful eye over.
It is the year for him to emerge as the prominent and influential force for the club’s U18s side, find some consistency and begin to make himself known amongst Reds again.
His time spent at youth setups as prestigious and as highly-regarded as that of Ajax and Barcelona demands he be appreciated as someone believed to be capable of success as a professional. The 2017/18 season represents his time to emerge as part of Klopp’s long term project.
Here is one of those typical YouTube videos to give you a reminder of what he can do…