Yan Dhanda became the first player of Indian descent to sign a professional contract with Premier League powerhouse Liverpool on Thursday. The midfielder who turns 17 this week, underlined his status as a star of the Liverpool Academy as he penned a two and a half year contract with the Merseyside club.
Born in Birmingham, he joined the Liverpool academy set up from fellow Premier League side West Bromwich Albion for a fee amounting to a meagre 200,000 pounds. Ever since Dhanda has established himself as one of the brightest talents in Anfield’s academy. So it comes as no surprise as Liverpool have tied him down to the club with a contract.
A fleet-footed attacking midfielder, Dhanda is best suited behind a striker in the No.10 role and is capable of operating on either wing or deeper in midfield. He has also featured heavily for Liverpool’s U-18 side this season along with a couple of appearances for the U-21 side as well. He has also trained with the Liverpool first team at Melwood on several occasions.
He has also become the second British Asian with a professional contract at the top flight after Neil Taylor of Swansea City. The playmaker has played for England at the Under-16 and Under-17 levels and won the up-and-coming player category at the Asian Football Awards in 2013.
The 16-year-old appeared focused and determined when quizzed about his new contract and the way ahead of him.
“My long-term ambition would be to get into the first team before I am 20,” he explained.
“That is the dream but I am a million miles away from that now so I just have to keep my head down and work as hard as I possibly can every day.”
Yan a talented young man: Ian Ayre
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre had praised Yan Dhanda after he had won the Up-and-Coming player award in 2013 while highlighting his admiration for the latter’s talent and abilities.
"We don't take a player because he is Asian and we don't not take a player because he is Asian," Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre told BBC Sport at the awards ceremony at Wembley in 2013.
"It's about finding the best talent regardless of where they come from. You are only going to choose someone and put them in your squad if they can genuinely compete for a place in your first team.
"Yan has a fantastic opportunity at Liverpool. He is a very talented young man and we hope he will achieve the best he can do."