Which Young Liverpool Players Should Kick on This Season?

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So far in the ongoing summer transfer window, we have seen our new Sporting Director, Jörg Schmadtke, oversee the recruitment of Dominik Szoboszlai, after his predecessor ended his reign with the successful acquisition of Alexis Mac Allister. I fully expect two more outfield players to arrive, with a third (I hope) to add to those two new additions. Levi Colwill and Roméo Lavia appear to be the pair that we are working hardest on, with their total combined fee set to take our summer spending north of £200m. I have always believed this is the type of transformative summer we could achieve; therefore, I hope we can get those two through the Anfield door. As far as the additional 5th player goes, Khéphren Thuram looks like the man we are playing the waiting game with, as Nice try to increase his price tag. This is a deal that is perhaps reliant on our success (and cost) of the two confirmed targets, whereas the future of our brilliant Thiago could also play a part.

The swarming excitement of new players should not dampen the enthusiasm we must show to that which lies within. Below I will be looking at some of the younger squad members, ones who could make genuine season-long impacts in the 2023/24 Premier League campaign. Some names are very well known within the first team group, yet question marks and inconsistencies are still apparent. The development and maturing of each are a delicate balancing act, with the early stages of their careers being difficult to navigate.

Sepp van den Berg

I dedicated a piece to the young Dutchman this week, as I believe the time is right for him to step up and make his mark on the first team group. With a raft of loans engulfing his four years at the club, the 21-year-old is now primed to take on the role of backup within the squad. The expectation is that Nat Phillips will finally find a new club in the coming weeks, which will create a place in Jürgen Klopp’s defensive stable. The new 3-4-3 formation is one where the right-sided central defender requires the ability to cover the flank, something which is very much in the former Reading loanee’s locker. At 6ft 4 inches tall, the 8-cap Netherlands under-21 international absolutely represents the mould of centre-backs our German manager likes, with a top speed that eclipsed everyone in last season’s Bundesliga. I will admit, I am enthralled and eager to see this man play in pre-season, as he could just be that low-key signing that drifts effortlessly into the first-team picture.

Verdict – Secondary back up to Ibou and Joe, whilst having a good understanding of the right-back role. A good defensive piece that should start some games in both the domestic and European cups.

Stefan Bajčetić

Every single Liverpool fan was ecstatic to see the former Celta Vigo teenager emerge last season, however, there were certainly caveats to the young Spaniard’s progressive start. The LFC midfield was in all sorts of disarray, as a lack of energy and desire spread from that middle ground outwards. The youthful exuberance and intensity were something we all wanted in our red men, which led to our glorious German manager playing him until he got injured. Next season must be about ensuring the required levels remain on the pitch, with very good options surrounding that. Stefan is still just 18 years old (turns 19 in October), therefore must be managed, developed, and held back. As a backup to the midfield elite, Klopp has an opportunity to either make him into that Trent alternative, a defensive midfielder variation, a box-to-box engine room player, or a controlling asset much like Thiago. The perfect blueprint and pathway must be set out for the 6ft 1-inch asset, as he could be a massive player in the coming years.

Verdict – A backup that can offer real energy and intent from the bench, especially in certain Premier League encounters. I hope Stefan becomes a nailed-on starter in the Europa League group stages, whereas the domestic cups should also be on his 2023/24 agenda.

Curtis Jones

At the turn of the year, so many people were dismissing the talents and ability of the England under-21 star. Below is a link to a piece I wrote in March, that was widely dismissed by the Liverpool fanbase. This was the view taken before his reincarnation within the first team, which has led to him starring in both the Reds end of season run-in, as well as his nation’s European under-21 campaign. This coming weekend sees him compete in the final of that tournament, which I believe could see him promoted to the senior setup shortly thereafter. The coming year represents a huge opportunity for the academy product, who can push his agenda to become a regular first-team player for the 2023/24 season.

Verdict – As a player who can operate in either the left of right attacking midfield spots, he should be a primary backup to Alexis and Dom next year. A wonderful talent that should be set loose.

Harvey Elliott

The former Fulham academy graduate is another young starlet who is enjoying a fine summer with the England under-21 group. Harvey’s enthusiasm and energy is infectious, yet he has been largely mismanaged to this point. The overall quality and ability of the former Blackburn loanee are not in question, yet his German manager needs to understand that he is a prospect that will only thrive further forward. Jürgen Klopp must stop this midfield experiment he has thrust upon the 5ft 7inch player’s shoulders, by instead implementing him as the Mohamed Salah understudy. It is clear to see the attacking instincts flowing through his talented body, therefore this more advanced role could create something wonderful.

Verdict – A nailed-on starter for the cup competitions, with an initiative to manage Mohamed Salah’s campaign minutes. The odd cameo as the right-sided attacking midfielder is fine, though he must not be persevered within in that position.

Ben Doak

The young Scots winger was thrust into the limelight this past season, with his fearless nature giving some light relief to our broken-down fanbase. The twice-capped under-21 international does not turn 18 years old until November, therefore we have to be considering his development. Ben Doak is a ferocious talent that should be nurtured, not spoiled.

Verdict – With Harvey primed to become the right-wing backup, I would like to see Doak get a loan from late January. I would keep the former Celtic lad within the group until the end of that month, especially given Mohamed Salah will be headed for the African Cup of Nations at the turn of the new year. This first half of the campaign hopefully sees the wide man grab some game time in the Europa League group stages and league cup.

Kaide Gordon

This young man turns 19 years of age in October. His return to team training is set for this month, after an horrific year out with a pelvic injury. The slow transition back into football should be meticulously planned, as this is a young player that was once touted as the country’s finest young talent, whilst at Derby County. A good run in the Red’s under-23 team is likely with some minutes in the cup competition here and there.

Verdict – Whatever gets his body correct is the route that must be taken.

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