Liverpool rumours: Merseyside club to merge first team and academy training facilities
One of Jürgen Klopp’s first actions as he set foot on the shores of Mersey to take charge of Liverpool was to watch the U-18 side take on their Stoke City counterparts at the club’s Kirkby training facility. He claimed to have been very impressed with the stockpile of talent available to the club, but also lamented on how there was a discord between the first team and the academy.
He was also unhappy with how the loan system was implemented. The German felt that the younger players would have a much better opportunity to learn and grow by training directly with the first team. This would give him the youngsters a chance to interact with the senior players directly, which Klopp felt was a much better prospect than them going out on loan to a lower league team and then not getting any minutes.
The change in philosophy was almost immediately visible with multiple players being recalled from loan in January, last year and also with there now being a “minimum 75% of games played” clause in the players’ contracts that do go out on loan.
The news that the club intends to merge the training facilities of the first team and the academy at Melwood and Kirkby respectively, should therefore not come as a surprise to those who have been closely following events in recent months. This has always been the line of thinking for Liverpool’s owners FSG, and they will have been glad to find a kindred soul in Klopp.
The plans are still at an embryonic stage, but top level discussions going on at Liverpool have taken a resolution to join the 2 sites.
The two options available were either to merge Melwood with the academy in Kirkby, or develop a new facility. With Liverpool only recently having spent £115 million on building the brand new Main Stand at Anfield, and with there being some possible plans in the works to expand Anfield Road End, expanding the academy seems the more likely and logical path to take
Melwood has been the home of the Liverpool first team since 1950, so this decision will be quite a significant one. However, this plan has been in the works for quite a while now. Liverpool had indeed submitted plans for minor changes to Melwood’s entrance this past summer, but retracted them around the same time as the signing of Klopp’s new contract.
There are quite a few benefits to having both facilities present in one site. Usually, academy members are called up to training with the first team during injury crises or if an exceptional talent had been recommended by the coaches of their teams. The combined facility gives Klopp the ability to call up academy players at a shorter notice and also keep an eye on the talents coming through the ranks on a daily basis.
Liverpool have been flying high in the Premier League this season. The past few years have seen them reach remarkable highs as well as some bitter lows. But they now seem to be in the hands of a manager who has a concrete plan for the club, both on the pitch and off it. With a merger of the first team and academy facilities, they are securing the long-term future of their younger generation and with that, the club’s too.