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ACADEMY WATCH – 3 players most likely to break into the first team

Liverpool have a strong history of creating their own world-class players through the youth system at Kirkby, slowly integrating players into the first team and propelling them to stardom. LFC Transfer Room’s Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) takes a look at the three players he thinks are most likely to burst into the first team from the academy over the coming months and seasons. 

Liverpool have continued their trend of developing some of the world’s brightest youngsters with the rise of Trent Alexander-Arnold to Liverpool’s starting right-back. In the last couple of years, other names such as Ben Woodburn and Ovie Ejaria have also featured in the team. Who’s the next Liverpool Academy product most likely to follow suit?

Conor Masterson

Promising youngsters Conor Masterson and Curtis Jones were named on the bench against Everton last weekend after Liverpool’s centre-half crisis forced Jurgen Klopp to play Ragnar Klavan as a make-shift left-back.

This was not the first time the 185cm-tall CB had been named a sub – he sat on the bench against Exeter in the FA Cup in January 2016.

The commanding Irishman played for Lucan United in Dublin before making the move across to Liverpool. He also debuted for the Irish under-18 side at the age of 16.

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Conor was made the captain of Liverpool’s under-18 side after Alexander-Arnold moved up to the under-23s in 2016/17 – a testament to the young man’s quality.

Masterson has so much potential within himself. An ability to play with the ball at his feet coupled with a physicality that you look for as one of the most sought-after attributes of a Premier League defender. He could definitely produce big things in the future.

If Liverpool are in the market for another centre-back this summer they might not have to look very far for a good backup to Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren.

Rhian Brewster

Brewster was the hottest property of the youth team before his season-ending injury. Nevertheless, it won’t stop him from being one of the next players to break into the first team when he returns at the start of next season.

“All I want to do is one day play for Liverpool’s first team. I will do all I can to try and make that happen, so if that means doing extra work in training I will do it,” Brewster said.

Leaving Chelsea for Liverpool at the age of 14, Brewster was one of the most highly-regarding youth prospects in the country.

He was coached by former Reds under-23 boss Michael Beale whilst at Chelsea, who was determined to bring Rhian to Liverpool when the opportunity arose.

In October of last year, he finished as top scorer in the under-17 World Cup as England won the competition. Seven of his eight goals came in the last three games of the competition. He even scored on his under-23 debut, putting the ball in the net against Ipswich in January of last year.

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Before his injury, he was on the brink of being used in the first team, with Jurgen Klopp talking him up in several press conferences. The 18-year-old will return to pitch activities soon and if he’s anywhere near as lethal as he was before the injury, it’ll only be a matter of time before we see him switch it up with Bobby, Sadio and Mo.

Curtis Jones

Curtis Jones is already a popular name amongst many-a Liverpool fan. His exploits in the under-18s haven’t gone unnoticed and the fanbase is starting to stir with excitement over his future.

It is looking like 2018 could be Jones’ breakout year, having made his under-23s debut in January and signing his first professional contract in February.

After Matthew Virtue’s and Marko Grujic’s loan departures in January, the 17-year-old midfielder has made a more permanent step-up into Neil Critchley’s under-23 side.

“He’s a top talent and he’s a top player. It’s important he gets on the ball as much as he can because he makes us play. He’s got that quality to create something out of nothing,” Red’s legend Steven Gerrard said of Jones.

He also joined Conor Masterson on the bench for the Merseyside derby this past weekend. Earning his first ever senior call-up.

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Despite Steven Gerrard aiming to build the under-18 side around Curtis, it’s merely a waiting game until we see him in the first team.

But let’s not be too brash here. To the people throwing around the tag of “next Gerrard”. Don’t. He’s good and full of potential, just don’t put that unnecessary pressure on the young man. Let him shape his career in a path where he can be him, not the “next” anyone.

There are many talents in the Liverpool youth system currently and many of them may well make it to the Liverpool first team eventually, but these three are some of the most exciting. Hopefully, we begin to see other academy starlets such as Kamil Grabara, Yan Dhanda, Adam Lewis, Liam Millar and Edvard Tagseth make their way into Klopp’s plans as well.

 

 

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