A true fact that, unfortunately, only a few football fans realise is that academy talents are actually the most valuable asset a club may have. A good example of that is Barcelona & Leo Messi, who was only a skinny talented Argentinian teenager Barca believed and invested in upfront. He became perhaps the best footballer ever.
Nowadays, most English clubs are going in the opposite direction, though. Instead of investing in their academy players, they prefer to sell them to buy established talents.
Man City have had a similar experience a few years ago, as they released youth talent Jadon Sancho to Borussia Dortmund just to see him become a £100M footballer who will probably return to the Premier League in a few years to play against them and possibly help another side to lift a PL title.
In contrast to the Cityzens, Liverpool have changed their transfer approach under Jurgen Klopp as the manager was forced to turn to the Reds academy due to the club’s limited budget.
Out of the LFC players Klopp promoted, the most noticeable is surely UCL and PL winner Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is considered to be one of the best right-backs in the world.
However, Liverpool’s young talent isn’t only about Trent, and that’s exactly what this article is about. Get to know the future faces of the Reds of Anfield Road.
Goalkeepers and defenders are often a no-go zone for managers when it comes to promoting academy players. The usual route for such players, especially in top-tier clubs, is to go to a minor club on loan and hopefully put in some good performances to be noticed by a former manager.
This is exactly what happened to Liverpool’s Rhys Williams. The 19-year-old centre-half joined the Reds academy aged 10 and got loaned to a sixth-tier English club called Kidderminster Harriers in the 2019-20 season.
Under normal circumstances, Williams would never go back to Liverpool. Not because he wasn’t skilled enough to do so, but because he was completely cornered playing at the 6th division in England.
Two things conspired in favor of the young defender, though. The first one was that besides playing for Kidderminster Harriers, he was also playing for England U19. The second one was that Klopp released centre-half Dejan Lovren in the summer and Liverpool got rocked by an injury crisis, especially amongst defenders, losing both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.
Klopp turned to Rhys and called him back, to probably the biggest challenge of his career. Turned out that the youngster delivered, got his senior debut wearing the Reds kit partnering Virgil van Dijk and did great.
His good performances granted him UCL football, playing against the likes of Ajax and Atalanta in the Group Stage and by the looks of it, the youngster will have many more opportunities to show his talent defending on the pitch.
Leighton Clarkson is a skilled 19-year-old midfielder who’s been trying to happen at Liverpool FC. Clarkson made his senior debut in a rather unorthodox FA Cup match against Aston Villa, where Liverpool’s main squad were out at Qatar playing the FIFA Club World Cup tournament.
Due to a calendar conflict – it happens all the time with top-tier English clubs -, the Reds had to lign-up mostly academy players, and Clarkson was one of them.
Obviously, the young Reds – who had not even manager Jurgen Klopp on the sidelines – got crushed against a complete Villa side, losing the game 5-0 in the quarter-final match of the domestic competition, but still, the youngsters did the fans proud.
Apart from last season’s game against Villa, Clarkson got more senior football minutes for Liverpool this season, as he got even his UCL debut against Danish side Midtjylland, where he played a good football match, getting praised by lots of fans who were positively surprised with him.
Clarkson looks like a midfielder who oozes confidence, displaying an excellent passing range, and that could effectively be part of Liverpool’s future.
This is a well-known face amongst die-hard Liverpool fans, especially the ones who are based in the city. Curtis Jones has everything to be the next Steven Gerrard, both for his skills on the pitch and for his position and positive attitude that reminds the good old times of the legendary Stevie G playing at the fields of Anfield Road.
The attitude is much more than a mere way of playing football on the pitch, though. There’s this culture of praising the local lad at Liverpool Football Club, and Jones is one of these lads.
From the strong scouse accent to the dream of playing for the Reds – and hopefully becoming captain at the club – forever and most importantly, stating it publicly, Jones has it all.
The 19-year-old has been becoming a key-player under Jurgen Klopp, as he scored the goal that sealed Liverpool’s place amongst the last 16 in the UCL as well as scored a screamer last season at the Merseyside Derby in the FA Cup – which eliminated Everton and strengthened Jones’ bond with the local fans.
Initially, Jones was promoted using the No. 48 jersey. He then picked the number 17, which was exactly the one Gerrard chose when he was going through the same lane Jones is driving in right now.
Will Jones become Liverpool’s new number 8 in the future? We need to check out the next chapters of the youngster in the Reds to get to know!
The youngest player on this list, Billy Koumetio is an 18-year-old French centre-half who’s been gaining space at Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. With 195 cm – 6 ft 5 -, the Liverpool youngster impresses for his height and skills on aerial duels.
Koumetio made his LFC senior debut last week against Midtjylland, as he was subbed on for injured Fabinho.
He actually made history for LFC in that match, as he broke the club’s record for the youngest player to play for the Reds in the history of both UCL and European Cup.
It is a huge achievement for a huge player.
Koumetio showed how solid he is, and alongside Rhys Williams, could both become Liverpool’s centre-back duo in the near future.
A curious fact involving Koumetio is that he was actually on duty for Liverpool in that semi-final game against Barcelona at Anfield last year for the UCL. The youngster was a ball boy at that game, and although he wasn’t the one who quickly rolled the ball to Alexander-Arnold take the quick corner to Divock Origi score the winner for the Reds, he was doing his part there, as well.
All of these four players have enough talent to be included in Liverpool’s next seasons and step by step gaining more spaces be it with Jurgen or with any other manager that could potentially take charge at the Reds in the future.
Football is unpredictable, though, and that means that – as cruel as they might sound – they could flop in the future, making way for other young talents the Reds have in their academy, just waiting for a chance to prove their worth.
However, as for now, these four are the Liverpool boys of the moment.