The Liverpool Kids – The Future or No Future?

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As seasons go, this one has been something of a bonus for those Liverpool players looking to make the break through proper into fully fledged first team players.

The arrival of Jurgen Klopp offered a fresh start, and the run in the FA Cup a platform on which to grasp that opportunity and show the boss why they warranted more than just a spot in the shadows going forward.

But now as we enter the twilight of a season that on the pitch has been typically built upon the inescapable, and more recent, Liverpool tradition of sparking hope that we’ve turned a corner before running into another dead end, I have to question what now for the lads knocking on the door?

The Liverpool Kids - The Future or No Future

Do we have some genuine players here capable of displacing one of the old guard, or as is so often the case, have we already witnessed the last first team action any of these players will see whilst still at Liverpool?

The worry as I see it, and possibly others do too, is that this season Klopp could experiment at will with little, to no, comebacks. It’s always good to see a new manager giving some of the young talent a run in the top flight and as fans I think we all embraced it. When the curtain raises on the new season we can almost certainly expect to see some sizeable changes within the current squad, I think we’re all banking on it to be fair. Klopp begins to build his own side and truly put the wheels in motion on the new faster, stronger and basically more, Klopp-like Liverpool, and if history is to be overlooked regarding our managerial changes past, we begin to challenge again season in, season out. Perfect.

But for the lads still lingering in the shadows of the reserves, what next for them? Suddenly the manager has lost the daring moves of the season past where experimentation and putting the kids out for a game or two to take the burden off regular first teamers ahead of a big crunch game was accepted regardless of the result. But next year if we enter this stage of the season treading water in a similar league position it can only be deemed a failure. Klopp can’t afford too many mistakes and slips next season, and any kids hoping to make the leap to first team football better hope they’ve already done enough.

Based upon what I’ve seen this season, I can honestly say I’m now harbouring serious doubts about so many of them. But let’s have a look.

Jordan Ibe

Jordan Ibe is a strange one. Here’s a player who looked to have already graduated to the first team only to be dragged back by a series of hugely ineffective performances. This season his contribution has been minimal for a player that looked to have such huge promise. Twenty five games, many fleeting, but ten starts of which he was subbed off in eight doesn’t make great reading. The optimism that initially flowed around the ground for Ibe has all but vanished, replaced now by increasing frustration and the realisation that we haven’t got another Sterling on our hands. I’d be surprised if he isn’t on his way come the transfer window.

Kevin Stewart

I really like Kevin Stewart, this might be based upon the fact that the last Stewart who arrived at Anfield from Tottenham was Paul, and Kevin is a vast improvement over that transfer disaster, but I prefer to think it’s because he added some much needed grit to our midfield when we were really crying out for it. In reality he’s barely played, but when he has he’s shown he can do a job. The problems for Stewart though are that he doesn’t offer any improvement over what we already have in there, and he’s already 22 and will be on the brink of 23 as the new season gets underway, so he doesn’t have the time to mature and grow as a player if he wants to make his mark in the game. As much as I’d love to see him suddenly blossom further still, I can’t help feel that a transfer out of Liverpool is probably the best option for both club and player.

Joao Teixeira

Let’s face it, as much as we’d all love Teixeira to come good, it’s just not going to happen. At 23 he’s in a similar boat to Stewart in that I think he has to move if he’s any chance of regular first team football. We had Suso, and Suso was twice the player Teixeira is. Too inconsistent and a long way short of being able to challenge any of Coutinho, Firmino or Lallana for a spot in the eleven I suspect this is the last season Teixeira ever pulls on a Liverpool shirt and walks out with the first team.

Brad Smith

Another at the point of now or never. We talk about the youngsters at the club, but like Stewart and Teixeira before him, Smith is also in his early twenties. He has some undoubted qualities, strength, pace and an understanding that his first job is as a defender, but I’m not convinced the belief in him as a future starting Liverpool left back isn’t tinged with a little disbelief at some of the positions our current starting left back finds himself in. I think Smith will be starting next season as a Liverpool player, but could easily find himself further down the pecking order as Joe Gomez returns to fitness and Klopp opens the wallet.

Cameron Brannagan

Here we have the first player on the list I’m convinced will make it at the club. Brannagan is a teenager with a football brain that belies his years. I’ve never failed to be impressed by him whenever I’ve watched him play, be it in the reserves or the first team. There are always those players that just have a certain something about them that makes you sit up and take note, and Cameron Brannagan is one of those players. Good on the ball, great vision and not afraid of a fifty fifty, we need a few more like this.

Sheyi Ojo

Currently the most exciting prospect waiting in the wings. Young and raw no doubt, but oozing potential and showing glimpses of the sort of attacking flair that get crowds on their feet. Already jumped above the faltering Jordan Ibe in many fan’s affections and expectations, but with good reason. Ojo offers skill, speed and a solid work rate that sees him happy to track back and put in a tackle. I wasted his goal against Exeter at Anfield with a broad grin and a touch of awe, sure it was only Exeter, but class is class regardless. A couple of developmental seasons with dips into the first team that show real progress, and I’m firm in the belief that Ojo will become a prominent Liverpool player going forward.

Connor Randall

I’m afraid I can’t see it with Connor Randall. He’s a decent player and a fairly consistent full back, but currently he’s a long way shy of being a player capable of becoming an integral part of a Liverpool defence, and that’s a defence that has come in for some serious criticism this season. If as expected, Klopp, works to strengthen the defensive frailties over the summer, then unfortunately I think at 20 Randall currently has too far to travel to become a first team challenger.

Pedro Chirivella

At eighteen it could be argued that Pedro Chirivella could yet blossom into a special player, and you may be right. But, for me we have two eighteen year olds in Ojo and Chirivella who sit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Where Ojo excites, Chirivella only leaves me doubtful. He looks very lightweight and severely lacking in pace, his passing is hit and miss and unless he has a serious blossoming of his talents he doesn’t have a future at Liverpool for me.

Besides these few players there are of course others that will knock on the first team door, Ryan Kent, Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ward, but like the lads above the biggest issue they face now may be that the biggest window of opportunity could be just about to close.

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  1. Agree with Stewart, Teixera, Randall and Smith and possibly Branagan. Ojo does look promising but he has not yet achieved as much at first team level as Ibe did last season so the jury is still out.I think the style of play has been a problem for Ibe.The slow build up we had for some time meant he was always crowded and had no space to attack.I still think he has a chance in the EPL although maybe not at LFC.
    I do not rate Chiravella veru highly and think Rossiter is a better prospect but sadly he seems to have been overlooked. Some team is going to get a real prospect there.

  2. Harsh comments on Ibe as he’s still only 20 and he’s never been a Sterling replacement, that was just some peoples thoughts, professionals including, Mr Aldo in the Echo for one. This was always going to be a development yr for him, he’d been in the prem for half a season playing out of position in a struggling team. He was used too much at the beginning creating too much pressure that’s really hampered his growth and confidence. Hopefully a new beginning next season with room to grow will yield results, but judgments made now seem harsh because there just too early.
    Smith though, he’s crap 😀 Sorry if him or his family read that.

  3. I think Klopp with play couple kids in each cup game, especially if we are in europe. I think the Swansea game showed you have to have a mix of veterans and academy players as Steward and Chiravella were wideyed and got overrun. I will be honest, of all the premier league managers, think Klopp historically proven to give youth more chances than probably any other manager.

    I think Ibe is pure confidence player, when 2 managers trusted last year he had some good performances, this year, Klopp thinks he has better players than him, and his confidence and play are showing it. I don’t think he is Klopp type player, he puts his head down and tries to go for it, top players try to keep their heads up, gives up possession too much, I think selling him to mid table team with buyback clause, to team that coaches and develops players, team like Bournemouth, Stoke, Southampton.

    Teixeira needs to move on to the continent, Connor Randall reminds me of Jay Spearing, don’t think Brad Smith plays good enough defense for a top 4 team, but could be a poor Jefferson Montero for some team out there.
    Brannagan and Chiravella are too young to give up on, think they need to put on some muscle though, badly. Put them on the same diet and workout regimen Origi went thru. Ojo will develop.

    Last thing, I think this screams for a Liverpool B team, I know teams want them to be dropped in the championship, but just get a signed paper saying that in case that happens, Liverpool’s B team will be parachuted there too no matter where they might be climbing the leagues and start the team now.


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