Despite making mega money signings such as Virgil van Dijk and Fernando Torres over the years, Liverpool’s academy has always produced a healthy flow of young talent.
Back in the day, players such as Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler burst onto the scene and went on to have untold success throughout their careers.
And although those days are gone, the emergence and form of Trent Alexander-Arnold shows there is still a place for youth development at Anfield.
Right now, the Reds have a clutch of young players either on loan or within the development team that are asking serious questions of Jurgen Klopp next season, desperate to nail a place down in his side or move on to pastures new in search of regular playing time.
We’ve compiled a list of five Liverpool youngsters giving Klopp the biggest headaches heading into the summer transfer window.
1. Harry Wilson
Scorer of screamers and troller of Man Utd fans, Harry Wilson has made a serious impression on loan at Derby County this season.
The Wales international has scored screamers for fun but more than that, his graceful, effortless technique bears all the hallmarks of a complete Premier League player.
Wilson has an incredibly impressive 14 goals and two assists in the Championship this season and has shown ultimate versatility, playing on both flanks, as a number 10 and an out-and-out central midfielder. Just like Xherdan Shaqiri, Wilson could be a brilliant attacking utility man for Klopp and it doesn’t matter if you’re Alisson Becker or a Sunday league stopper, nobody is stopping his thunderbolts.
2. Ryan Kent
The odd inconsistent spell aside, Ryan Kent has absolutely bossed it at Rangers under Steven Gerrard and was recently named the club’s Young Player of the Year.
Of course, transferring that level of performance from Scottish football to the Premier League can often be a challenge, but his goal in the recent Old Firm derby against Celtic showed just what he can do against higher quality opposition.
While you’re here, take a moment to enjoy Ryan Kent’s goal from today. He’s been superb for Rangers this season. Do you think he has a future with the Reds? pic.twitter.com/dW4Qukfgck
— The LFC Couch 🗣🎙 (@LFCCouch) March 31, 2019
The main issue for Kent is at 22, he desperately needs to be starting, week in, week out. That’s highly unlikely at this point and his age means another loan would do more harm than good.
His saving grace may come in the fact that Gerrard has already expressed an interest to keep him at Ibrox ‘more than anyone’.
“I don’t know what Liverpool value Ryan at,” he said. “I don’t even know if Liverpool want to sell him or not. The only question I can answer, do I want him back? Yes, more than anyone.”
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3. Rafael Camacho
Rafael Camacho has eight goals in 13 games at youth level for Portugal and with clubs like Sporting CP, Manchester City and Liverpool already on his CV, you know the boy has talent.
However, the 18-year-old is reportedly unhappy on Merseyside and caused a real stir after scoring a hat-trick for Liverpool U23s against Leicester City, posting his displeasure at being played out of position via his Instagram account.
His unrest has alerted the likes of RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund in Germany, while Sporting CP and Wolves – against whom he made his senior Liverpool debut – are sizing up moves, according to reports.
Camacho’s contract talks have thus stalled and the Reds could be willing to do business at around £8m. There’s only one thing you can really do with a bad egg…
4. Marko Grujic
Signed for just £5m back in 2016 and making just 14 first team appearances for Liverpool since, it seems absolutely absurd that Atletico Madrid would be lining up a £35m move for Marko Grujic this summer.
However, such has been the impressive, controlling nature of his performances while on loan at Hertha Berlin this season, the Serbia international now appears to be a wanted man.
A deal to Atletico is likely to hinge on whether Manchester City move for Spanish midfielder, Rodri, but should that transpire, the Reds would be foolish to turn down such a big profit on a player whose face just doesn’t fit at Anfield.
5. Rhian Brewster
Rhian Brewster has been a name on the lips of Liverpool fans for some time now and only seriously bad luck with injury has curtailed his development to this point.
A total of 24 goals in 27 games for England’s youth sides, as well as the Golden Boot and winner’s medal at the Fifa U17 World Cup in 2017, tells you all you need to know about his talents, though. That and the fact it took him just six minutes to get on the score sheet when making his return from injury for Liverpool U23s in March.
Just a quick reminder that Rhian Brewster is nearly ready to resume full training. Buckets of talent and a natural finisher. pic.twitter.com/4dQkPqmzZs
— The LFC Couch 🗣🎙 (@LFCCouch) February 7, 2019
Amazingly, Brewster is still only 19 and signed a new five-year deal in July 2018. If Klopp’s comments are anything to go by, he could play a serious role for the Reds next season, with the German claiming his time on the sidelines has made him a ‘proper man’.
“He grew as a person in that time (out injured) and physically as well,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.
“He is a different stature when you look at him. Now he is a proper man. When he got injured, he was a boy. All will be good.
“With a little bit of luck – which you always need – we will have a lot of fun with him.”
If an attacking manager like Klopp is going to have so much fun playing Brewster, then we’re likely to have just as much fun watching him.