5 Liverpool youth academy players who should play for the first team

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool shows appreciation to the fans after the final whislte during the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp is known to nurture youngsters and turn them into star players.
Saketh Ayyagari

Liverpool made a flying start to the 2016/17 Premier League season and were in the conversation of the title race before the Christmas fixtures and the New Year arrived. Injuries to Phillipe Coutinho, Sadio Mane’s departure for the African Cup of Nations and loss of form of the two main strikers in Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi completely derailed the momentum to such an extent that Jurgen Klopp’s side were out of contention of the EFL Cup and FA Cup by the end of January.

A shortage of quality squad depth for rotation and replacement of the missing players was a prime reason for the downturn in fortunes. However, Liverpool’s academy is one of the finest in the country, especially due to the vision and efforts of Rafa Benitez to revive it during his managerial tenure. The academy has been producing a steady supply of quality players in recent years and there are quite a few of them who could have helped Liverpool during that tough period with their youthful energy and desire.

It is still not too late to start playing for the first team as these players still have time on their side. Jurgen Klopp’s ability to nurture youngsters coupled with Liverpool’s requirement of an even bigger squad due to their likely European commitments next season gives the youngsters ample chances to stake a claim in the first team.

So, let’s look at five of the academy players who are ready to play for the Liverpool first team.

#5 Ovie Ejaria

WIGAN, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Ovie Ejaria of Liverpool during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool at JJB Stadium on July 17, 2016 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Ovie Ejaria oozes class and composure beyond his age.

Ovie Ejaria joined Liverpool in 2014, having started his career at Arsenal, due to lack of opportunities at the London club. He rose up the ranks soon enough as his quality was evident and caught Jurgen Klopp’s eye during the club’s trip to Tenerife last March while the international break was underway. Since then, he has impressed the German gaffer further during the pre-season friendlies against Fleetwood, Tranmere Rovers and Huddersfield before he was called up for the United States tour where he put on a memorable display against Chelsea.

He has kicked on since then making substitute appearances in the league and starting games in the cups. His style of play is similar to his idol, Andres Iniesta, although the 19-year old is lanky compared to the diminutive Barcelona captain. The youngster has an extremely calm head and his tricks and flicks are reminiscent of Adam Lallana, making him a good option in the centre of the midfield.


(Video Courtesy – ScoutNationHD YouTube Channel)

#4 Harry Wilson

READING, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Harry Wilson of Liverpool holds off pressure from Tarique Fosu of Reading during the FA Youth Cup 6th Round match between Reading U18 and Liverpool U18 at Madejski Stadium on March 12, 2014 in Reading, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Harry Wilson (left) is the current captain of the U23 side.

The youngest player to ever play for Wales at 16 years and 207 days, beating Gareth Bale’s record by 108 days and also the youngest ever Liverpool international beating Raheem Sterling’s record set in 2012, Harry Wilson has been at Liverpool since he was 9 and is the current captain of the U23s despite being only 19 years of age.

This is a testament to the player’s ability and he has received high praise from Adam Lallana recently who said, “I see great potential for Harry Wilson. He is captain of the under-23s, he has been training with us permanently for three or four weeks. He has got a great left foot. Everyone is speaking about Ben Woodburn, Trent, Ovie, but Harry keeps his head down, works hard and I think he has a great future ahead of him.”


(Video Courtesy – miroP10 YouTube Channel)

Primarily a winger capable of playing on either flank with great touch and ability, Wilson has both scored and assisted a number of goals for the U23s this season, thereby leading from the front. He finally made his first-team debut as a substitute in January against Plymouth Argyle and given Liverpool’s deficiency in the winger department, the Welshman definitely should be given a chance to perform.

#3 Sheyi Ojo

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 01:  Liverpool player Sheyi Ojo in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at The Liberty Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Sheyi Ojo has the pace, directness and end-product to become a fine winger at Liverpool.

Sheyi Ojo joined Liverpool in 2011 and grew quickly through the ranks, including being named the joint-top scorer alongside team-mate Harry Wilson in the U17 Future Cup organised by Dutch club Ajax, renowned worldwide for their academy. He made it to the Liverpool bench under Brendan Rodgers during the festive period of the 2014/15 season and was subsequently loaned out to Wigan Athletic for the rest of the season.

Another loan spell followed in the 2015/16 season, this time to Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he made a positive impact once again before he was recalled by Jurgen Klopp in January 2016. Ojo was handed playing time since then and looked to be making serious inroads into the first team before a stress fracture in the back during pre-season last summer halted his progress.


(Video Courtesy – miroP10 YouTube Channel)

A natural winger with loads of pace and good end-product, the youngster could have helped the first team during Sadio Mane’s absence in January. But his recovery from the back injury was underway and he missed the opportunity. However, the winger is back playing for the U23s and is on the way towards building his form back. As mentioned above, Liverpool’s dearth in wingers means Ojo can do a job if called upon.

#2 Ben Woodburn

WIGAN, ENGLAND - JULY 17:  Ben Woodburn of Liverpool scores the second goal during a pre-season friendly between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool at JJB Stadium on July 17, 2016 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Ben Woodburn scoring during the pre-season last summer where he impressed.

The first name on everyone’s lips when talking about the best player at the Liverpool academy is that of Ben Woodburn. The Welsh forward has been at the club since the U-7 days and burst onto the big stage with impressive performances during the pre-season last summer, where his end-product and maturity pleasantly surprised many.

Capable of playing across the forward line, Woodburn currently holds the record of being the youngest ever goalscorer for Liverpool at 17 years and 45 days when he scored against Leeds in the EFL Cup last November, thereby eclipsing the record held by another prodigy Michael Owen. He currently plays for the U23 side despite his age and the U23s coach Mike Garrity is helping him improve his versatility by playing him in different positions.


(Video Courtesy – ScoutNationHD YouTube Channel)

Woodburn is currently the most exciting player in the academy and with Daniel Sturridge’s future up in the air, the 17-year-old offers a good option across the front 3. Given his outstanding performances playing for the U23 side, he definitely can make an impact in the first team if given a chance.

#1 Trent Alexander-Arnold

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Anthony Martial of Manchester United is faced by Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on January 15, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (left) on his Premier League debut against Manchester United.

It has been a pretty long time since a Liverpool-born player has risen through the ranks and became a first-team regular. The last ones were Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen. Jon Flanagan made an impression in Liverpool’s title fight during the 2013/14 season but injuries have hampered his development. Hence, the joy and expectations of watching Trent Alexander-Arnold are immense for everyone associated with Liverpool.

The teenager joined the club at the age of six and has already captained the U16 and U18 teams. He is blessed with pace, a good touch and delivery, making him an excellent right-back and he is also comfortable playing in midfield. His delivery for Divock Origi’s goal against Leeds in the EFL Cup this season is a sight to remember. Alexander-Arnold acquitted himself well on his Premier League debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford where he was tasked to handle the blistering pace of Anthony Martial.


(Video Courtesy – M10TAVARES10 YouTube Channel)

The Scouser has a fearless demeanour and with him, Jurgen Klopp already sees the Liverpool right-back slot secure for the next decade. The recent form of first team right-back Nathaniel Clyne has not been the best and 18-year-old can start ahead of him without leading to any dip in team performances on the pitch.

Edited by Staff Editor


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