Three Liverpool teenagers have been given debuts under Jurgen Klopp this season: bombarding right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, wonderkid attacker Ben Woodburn and rangy midfielder Ovie Ejaria.
But Liverpool’s boss is refusing to take credit for the development of two of these youngsters, claiming he has had very little to do with their progression – although with Ejaria – it’s a bit different!
The former Arsenal man came to the club late and was not especially hyped, but Klopp and Zeljko Buvac specifically plucked him from the youth side to come on pre-season tour of America; and seemingly from nowhere – he now looks destined for a first-team future.
“The players were already there and I had nothing to do with the development of Ben, Trent or Ovie,” Klopp told the ECHO.
“I don’t think 40 or 50 minutes of football or whatever are enough to get the credit for what the players have done.
“Ovie is maybe a bit different because we saw him and liked him and decided to push him a little bit more. But there was no chance to oversee Trent and Ben for example.
“If they are very young then clubs in the past have sent them on loan and I don’t think it is the perfect situation.
“It’s much better that we can work with them together on football at the highest level.”
Instead of sending Liverpool’s best young players on loan, Klopp wants us to have an all-conquering Under-23 side, which will act as a smooth stepping stone to the first-team.
The issue is the competitiveness of the league and the fact our best teenagers are not competing against men, but fellow boys.
But Klopp wants us to batter other teams at this level and form a style of play that enables the best youngsters to seamlessly step up.
“We want to create an under-23 team that is really strong. The centre-backs (Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori) are experienced which is unusual, but all the rest are very young, really skilled, they enjoy playing together and they are getting better results.
“If you are the best player in your team at 15 everyone takes you to the under-17s and the next day you feel like the small guy in a forest with only big trees.
“That is one way of education and you need to use situations like this, but being in a very good team and scoring 25 to 30 goals a season should still be possible so that’s why we changed it a little bit. There is not one solution for all of our situations.”