Liverpool’s Academy Director has discussed the most promising talents emerging from the club’s youth system following the first-team breakthroughs of several youngsters this season.
Despite Liverpool‘s status as Premier League leaders and contenders for major silverware, Jurgen Klopp has shown a willingness to hand opportunities to the club’s academy graduates in cup competitions.
Amongst those to have made a notable impression is teenage midfielder Curtis Jones, the 19-year-old scoring twice during the club’s FA Cup campaign including a stunning Merseyside derby winner against Everton at Anfield.
Jones is regarded as one of the most exciting players to emerge from the Reds’ set-up in recent years and Alex Inglethorpe, head of Liverpool’s academy, believes the talented teen has everything it takes to establish himself as a first-team star.
“Curtis is a prodigious talent,” Inglethorpe told The Athletic. “There’s no question he has both the ability and the mindset. He has shown that he’s capable of playing in that company.
“I think we’ve seen a level of maturity that comes with playing with top players and top people. The messages he gets from James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk, they are as important to him as any of the coaching he’s had before.
“I guess the challenge for Curtis is remaining patient. He’s got world-class players currently playing in his position. He’s at a club who have been successful and who are competing for and winning the biggest trophies. He has to be ready to take that chance when it comes along. I have every faith in him that, if he’s given it, he will take it.
“As an academy, we need to be careful that we don’t think we’ve passed on these players as ready-made. They aren’t. Trent still had to take the final step and the final part of his education was working with a top manager and top players. It will be the same with Curtis.”
Another youngster to have shown promising signs of progress has been Neco Williams, the full-back having staked his claim to be Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deputy with some mature displays this season.
Inglethorpe has been pleased with the development of the Welsh youth international who has played much of his academy football further forward, praising the teenager’s attitude and determination to succeed.
“Neco has been a slow burner. Being a right-back is still a relatively new experience for him, as up until the under-15s/under-16s he played as a winger,” Inglethorpe added. “He’s a quick learner and such a great lad. He takes everything in his stride. He’s a good boy. He’s never caused anyone at the academy a moment’s bother. He’s someone you want to be successful.
“In Neco’s mind, he won’t see himself as just there to make up the numbers. He’s quiet and unassuming but he’s also a very determined young man. He will put pressure on Trent, I’ve got no doubt about that. I’d be very disappointed in Neco if he didn’t do that and I’d be disappointed in Trent if he didn’t recognise that.”
Liverpool have also chosen to deploy former winger Yasser Larouci at full-back following the arrival of the exciting Frenchman from Le Havre, the youngster starring during the club’s FA Youth Cup success last season.
Larouci made his senior debut for the side during the FA Cup win over Everton in January and hopes are high he could provide long-term competition for Andy Robertson as he continues to adjust to a defensive role.
“Yasser’s natural ability going forward is eye-catching,” Inglethorpe continued. “He’s got a lot to work on and will need time to adjust as he’s been playing the position for even less time than Neco. But making that change positionally is certainly a lot easier now than it might have been 10 or 15 years ago.”