Yan Dhanda: Is the Indian origin player ready to make the step-up to Liverpool's first team?
Yan Dhanda could become the first player of Indian heritage to play in the Premier League.
Originally from Birmingham, Yan Dhanda was making an impression at the West Bromwich Albion academy where he had been from the age of nine when Brendan Rodgers, the then manager of Liverpool came calling for the then 14-year-old.
Rodgers influence was a key factor in him making the move. Signing a professional contract as a 17-year-old meant he had made club history - the first professional at Liverpool with Indian heritage.
He moved into the under-18 squad and even though he found it tough both physically and competitively, he managed 18 appearances for the team scoring seven goals. Those goals included a brace away at Manchester United and a third in the home fixture. He also scored a goal each in the home and away fixtures of the Merseyside derby. So you could say he is a big-time player.
Former Reds first-team development coach, Pep Lijnders brought him to Jurgen Klopp’s attention and he impressed in last February’s first-team training camp in Spain, this resulted in a new contract.
He has now moved up to the under-23 squad where starting positions have been limited. This could all change though following captain Harry Wilson’s departure to Hull City in the Championship on loan, as the Welshman seeks competitive action. This has opened the door for Dhanda.
His greatest attribute besides his undoubted skill is one of versatility. He is happy to play on the left, right, as a No. 10, and even as the target man; a priceless asset for any ambitious footballer. Under Klopp’s vision though, coupled with the work ethic that he demands of his players and their ability to interchange, Dhanda is seen as a real 'golden nugget'.
Klopp and his back staff are renowned for meticulous planning to develop talent so as to only introduce players at the right time. The player himself states his long-term target would be to get into the first team before he is 20. With a continued learning ethic it won’t be long before the Indian heritage player makes even more history by walking out on the hallowed turf to make his first-team debut for Liverpool.