Not getting too excited yet. As we haven’t actually confirmed a top four finish yet or won anything we can’t say too much for now. However, I think it’s fair to say that the future is looking good on a few fronts. Do you agree? When you look at the mainstays of our first team squad there is plenty to admire. One of the preferred intentions FSG have implemented is the signing of young players. A thinking behind that policy of course is there is a possibility that these players will have a sell on value. Not only that though, many of our regular starters are now gaining invaluable experience as well.
Consider so many of our first team regulars for a moment. The likes of Karius, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Salah, Firmino, Mane, Can (if he stays), Keita, Moreno, Robertson to name a few, are all still young and have years ahead of them. But equally important they also have a wealth of experience behind them.
Give Youth A Chance
One of the big positives about Jurgen Klopp is his willingness to give youth a chance. Two great examples of that philosophy are Joe Gomez (20) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (19). One only twenty years of age and the other nineteen. They could and should be part of Liverpool’s defensive backbone for years to come.
I think it’s fair to say as well though that both players have endured some torrid times this season. Only to be expected considering their youthfulness. In particular, Alexander-Arnold encountered some difficulties recently. For instance Manchester United and Crystal Palace away. But to his credit he came through those experiences and has since flourished. Over the last few games it seems he has literally switched up a gear or two. His performance levels and his confidence as a result have increased significantly.
It’s comforting to know that both of these will be around for years and that they both now have enough experience to cope with big games. Yes indeed the future is looking good in and around the first team.
But what about the youngsters on the fringe?
The Future Is Looking Good
You may or may not agree with the above that the future is looking good as far as the first team squad is concerned. But who, if anyone, is coming through?
Where do you start in beginning to answer that. I’ve been fortunate in that I have been to see the U23s and the U18s a few times this season. There are quite a few players that stand out. For instance I thought the young centre-back we got from Bolton Wanderers, Nathaniel Phillips, looks a prospect. Another centre-back, Conor Masterson aged 19, even made it onto the bench for our first leg game against Manchester City recently.
Others that may not be so well known include Curtis Jones, Rafa Camacho, Liam Millar, Adam Lewis, Kamil Grabara to name just a few. Will they all make it? Maybe, maybe not, but what we do know is that Jurgen Klopp will give them every opportunity to make it.
Just beyond the normal first team squad there is further evidence that the future is looking good. On the immediate fringes of the first team we can find some really exciting talent.
A regular member of the first team squad is Dominic Solanke. It would be very difficult for anyone to force their way into the first team ahead of Bobby Firmino. Solanke is undoubtedly a talent though. His time will come sure enough. Last summer Solanke won the Golden Ball as the player of the U20 World Cup tournament. Clearly he has talent. If we can clinch a top four finish with a game or two to spare we may see him feature more before the end of the season.
Other Attacking Options
We seem to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking options on the fringes of the first team. As well as Solanke, we also have Ben Woodburn, Harry Wilson (currently on loan at Hull City), Sheyi Ojo (currently on loan at Fulham), Ryan Kent (currently on loan at Bristol City) and Rhian Brewster at our disposal. Although not known as an attacker we also have midfielder Ovie Ejaria.
Harry Wilson has been particularly impressive at Hull City. It has been stated apparently that Hull fans have actually said that they feel Wilson is too good for them.
Even before he went to Hull in January he was banging in the goals for fun with the U23s. A bit of an U23s version of Mo Salah in a way. In all likelihood, this summer will be make or break for Wilson at Anfield. The way Klopp seems to operate, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Wilson feature more for the first team next season. Especially after the experience he has enjoyed both with Hull City and Wales. His confidence is understandably sky high and there is no doubting he is an exceptional talent.
I was lucky enough to see Wilson score a great hat-trick for Liverpool U23s against Tottenham Hotspur back in September. The perfect hat-trick (or as someone sat close to me said, “all hat-tricks are perfect”), right foot, left foot and a header.
However, as good as Wilson was that night (and he was good) he wasn’t the best player on the pitch in my opinion. That accolade goes to Rhian Brewster. Playing for the U23s at the age of 17 is an achievement in itself. Don’t forget either that Jurgen Klopp included him on the bench against Crystal Palace last April. Brewster’s stock rose even further when he won the Golden Boot as England U17s won the World Cup last summer. Currently injured and ruled out for the rest of the season. Let’s hope he is fit for pre-season.
There may be some who say these players are not ready. But don’t forget, Jurgen Klopp has already shown faith in them. And not only that, two of them, Wilson and Woodburn are full internationals. Woodburn was recently on the bench for the Manchester City Champions League tie as well. Almost a regular now for Wales, Woodburn is another exceptional talent. Still only 18, Woodburn is expected to have a long career with Liverpool. There are some who feel he could be a long-term replacement for the departed Philippe Coutinho. No pressure there then. But a pressure he seems he can handle.
Just imagine, we could have a front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino next season, ably supplemented by Solanke, Brewster, Wilson and Woodburn. Not bad hey!! In all likelihood though one or more may well go out on loan to get the necessary experience. It doesn’t seem to have done Harry Wilson any harm does it?
Which brings me on to…..
Liverpool Transfer Targets
I think we can see that the future is looking good for Liverpool on many fronts. So what of our transfer targets this summer? I’ve always said if Klopp is looking to sign a player then that is good enough for me. So, don’t be too impatient if we are not linked with the multi million transfer targets you hope for. If Klopp thinks any, or all, of the above are good enough, then that’s good enough for me.
Don’t forget either the emergence and current good form of Marko Grujic currently on loan at promotion chasing Cardiff City. If Emre Can does leave, do we need to sign another midfielder? After all Naby Keita is arriving, so maybe Grujic could fill the void left by Can if he goes.
Indeed exciting times ahead it would appear. The future is looking good. Long may it continue.