Liverpool’s youth system boasts a handful of exciting young talents determined to one day secure a place in Brendan Rodgers’ first team plans.
The dismissal of Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh from their roles as assistant manager and first team coach, respectively, in addition to the departure of Steven Gerrard ultimately marks another period of transition. The current circumstances at Anfield mean the young reds have a great opportunity to prove they have a future at Liverpool ahead of potential new arrivals at the club this summer.
As important as it is for them to work tirelessly, they already have the immediate support of Liverpool fans, who are constantly calling for the use of highly rated youth players in the first team. The Anfield faithful, more than any other fans, are very aware of the talented teenagers their club has at its disposal and, like myself, are desperate to show them off to the rest of the world.
Despite many of them having a lack of first team experience, the appointment of former England Under 19 manager Sean O’Driscoll as assistant manager and ex Liverpool academy coach Pepijn Lijnders as first team development coach proposes a greater focus on ensuring these promising young players fulfil their potential. It is increasingly apparent that Premier League clubs are keen to bring through their graduates, as evidenced by Chelsea, Arsenal and even West Ham, meaning Liverpool must continue to compete in this area.
Two names that emerge as serious contenders for places in the first team are Jerome Sinclair and Sheji Ojo, both of which spent part of last season on loan at Wigan Athletic. Sinclair is, perhaps, the most recognised of the two, having made a cameo appearance away to Chelsea last season, and is already being talked about as a player in the same mould as a certain Raheem Sterling.
Though a loan move to another Premier League or Championship club would probably benefit him, I would like to see him feature for the first team at some point during the upcoming season. The same could even be said for Ojo, who possesses very similar abilities to Sinclair in terms of his pace, trickery and flair.
With every Liverpool player under pressure to improve this season, the pair would bring a confident and fearless mentality that could go a long way towards rediscovering a free flowing and threatening Liverpool side. The technical ability of the pair is undoubted but it will be interesting to see whether they can rise to the challenge.
I would keep both at the club for at least half a season, using them in the Europa League and cup competitions in England. They must be given the chance to play with the best players at Liverpool in order to realise exactly where they are at in their development as well as what they need to do to play at such a high level.
Adam Morgan, once tipped to be the next great Liverpool striker, and Dani Pacheco represent the way in which youngsters can be wrongly hyped about with both failing to ever earn a long term future at Anfield. Ojo and Sinclair must not fall into this category and must use there failure to make it at Liverpool as motivation.
I am certain I’m not the only one keen to see a future Liverpool attack that has a place for Ojo, Sinclair and Jordan Ibe. The trio have the potential to really transform Liverpool’s ideology in terms of playing a game that turns its attention towards intense attacking play and flair in addition to a no fear attitude- something that will make the sport even more exciting.
At just 19 years of age, Jordan Ibe already poses as a familiar face at Liverpool, which speaks volumes about how much the club are trying to push through its young players. He is already being tipped to become a better player than Raheem Sterling, who was this week rated as the most valuable under 21 in Europe.
The attacking potential he showcased in his spell in the first team last season was promising given how much he was restricted by the defensive responsibilities of his right midfield position.
What stood out above his pace and power when on the ball was his tactical intelligence as evidenced by his positional discipline. Ibe is one that excites Liverpool fans very much. I really hope he can apply his off field friendship with Daniel Sturridge on the field and create a much needed harmony throughout the side.
His chances in the first team should give Ojo and Sinclair hope that they will be given their chance if they continue to work hard.
Amongst the new faces at Liverpool, Bobby Adekanye has been a less talked about signing due to his young age. I am very rarely convinced that Youtube videos offer a true representation of what a new signing has to offer, but the videos I have watched of the 16 year old tell me he is a winger Liverpool fans can be enthusiastic about.
He is portrayed by clips as a player that has dominated most games he has played in youth football. His ability with the ball at his feet and the ease at which he beats a man really presents him as the real deal while you only have to look at the way his teammates react to him being on the ball to see he is always expected to make things happen when in possession.
Given he continues to develop in the Liverpool youth set up, there is no reason why he can’t earn an early call up. A potentially positive dilemma emerges with regards to the challenge of fitting Ojo, Sinclair, Ibe and Adekanye in the same team in the future. This line up could also include Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and even Roberto Firmino.
While the likes of Ojo, Sinclair and Adekanye work their way up, Divock Origi must surely be a player for now? The Belgian has to impress this year otherwise it looks likely that he could quickly be classed as a failure. Brendan Rodgers must quickly decide on how he plans to use Origi as the arrival of a new striker could add to the uphill battle the former Lille man already faces.
If his performances in the 2014 World Cup are anything to go by, he can be a very powerful presence in the Liverpool side. Pre-season will be important for Brendan Rodgers as it will allow him to experiment with Origi as a lone striker and beside one of Danny Ings or Mario Balotelli.
His inexperience in the Premier League could massively benefit from the support of a second striker and it will be a bonus if he has the chance to play with Daniel Sturridge. In my opinion, he has greater technical ability and elegance in his play than Liverpool target Christian Benteke, while also sharing a similar strength and power to the Aston Villa striker.
It remains to be seen whether he is prepared to run beyond the opposition defence however he will certainly work the channels more than Benteke. In doing this, he has a great chance of making it work alongside Daniel Sturridge by allowing the England striker to work as both a finisher and as a technician.
Both have the traits to complement each other and free each other up from having more than one defender marking them. With Philippe Coutinho behind him, Origi will inevitably be given chances in front of goal. At the moment, all Rodgers needs him to do is find the back of the net.
The near future looks extremely bright for Liverpool in an attacking manner. I am eager to see each of the young players show what they can do while I am hoping Divock Origi can be the prolific striker we all want him to be.