Liverpool FC: Meet the Youngsters
With Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers having quite a number of academy and youth team players at his disposal, this special report by LFCTV will introduce and compile data on a number of Under-21 players most likely to break into the first team this season.
By looking at his usual starting eleven in recent seasons, it is clear that Rodgers favors young players. The oldest first-choice defender in Liverpool's lineup is Nathaniel Clyne, at 26, while key players like Raheem Sterling and James Ward-Prowse are 21 and 23 respectively.
The Northern Irish boss has gotten the best out of Sterling since he took charge of Liverpool in 2012, molding the winger into a world class footballer.
Other notable mentions are Ward-Prowse, who initially struggled to get a game after joining Liverpool two years ago, but eventually grew under Rodgers to win the PFA Young Player of the Year in his second season at Anfield, and Eder Alvarez Balanta, who came to Liverpool for £8.5 million without much of a reputation, before going on to win 8 winners' medals within 3 years and making 80 Premier League appearances. The Colombian international is now worth about £40 million.
By the end of the current season, Rodgers will be hoping that one or more of these youngsters join the aforementioned three on his prestigious list of young stars.
The 21-year-old was inducted into professional Premier League football last season and is someone with a growing reputation in Europe and England. A part of the youth academy at Wycombe Wanderers, Jordon Ibe
made his first team debut at the age of 15 in 2011, setting a record as Wycombe's youngest ever player.
Jordon Ibe is someone with a growing reputation
Ibe soon moved on to bigger things, and after being noticed by Liverpool, signed a contract with the Reds at 16. The right winger went out on loan spells to clubs like Birmingham and Derby County, but it was his time at League One side Millwall in the 2015/16 season that landed him his big break.
Ibe scored 6 goals in 34 appearances for the Lions and became an important member of the team, almost winning his first winner's medal after they went all the way to the Final of Johnstone's Paint Trophy, only to lose out to Preston.
He returned to Liverpool at the start of the 2016/17 season, and played in 16 Premier League games, while also netting his first ever goal in a Reds shirt against Merseyside rivals Everton.
This year, Ibe was a part of Liverpool's League Cup winning team and also scored his side's first goal in the Champions League Final, leveling in the 26th minute after Diego Costa put Chelsea in front with his 10th minute strike. Liverpool went on to win 1-3 and claimed their first European Cup in 11 years.
With Lazar Markovic leaving for Manchester City and Rodgers' refusal to sign a replacement, Ibe has been given more opportunities to impress and perhaps reinforce his position as a regular starter, although competition will be high between the England Under-21 international and more established teammates like Mario Balotelli.
Another first team hopeful is Harry Wilson
, who can play on either wing and is also comfortable playing as a striker. The 20-year-old hails from the Liverpool academy and has been generally solid on his three loan moves between 2014 and 2017, joining MK Dons, Leyton Orient, and then Charlton, in that order.
Despite his young age, Wilson is already a fully-fledged international for his country, Wales, and has the benefit of playing alongside stars other than his Liverpool teammates like Real Madrid's Gareth Bale and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey. He currently has 12 caps for Wales and 3 goals.
Wilson made his Liverpool debut last season, being chosen by Rodgers to play in 4 Premier League fixtures before being shipped out to Charlton in the Championship. However, he has certainly burst onto the scene this season, scoring his first goal for Liverpool against Everton in their 6-1 humbling of the Toffees earlier in August.
His potential is obvious for all to see, but Wilson faces intense competition in the senior squad, with Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe being able to play in his positions.
The winger has a major point to prove with his contract expiring at the end of the season, and his performances and attitude could determine if he remains at Anfield or not, although his showing in the game against Everton definitely contributed to his case.
is a product of the Plymouth Argyle academy, and linked up with Liverpool in 2011. The central defender has been sent to numerous clubs since 2014, and Jones caught the eye with his terrific performances for lower league sides.
The 22-year-old most notably won League Two with Shrewsbury in 2015, helping them to win automatic promotion to League One, and followed this up with a one-year spell with Blackpool where he made 39 league appearances.
Returning to Liverpool saw him make his debut in the Premier League and Jones made an instant impact, scoring his first goal on his first appearance, but went on loan again shortly after, this time to Bristol City. However, he once again impressed and made 30 appearances to help the Robins get promoted to the Championship.
So far in his career, Jones has been noted for his consistency and will hope that he can take his lower league form to the Premier League with Liverpool.
This season, he will undoubtedly have slightly more chances for game time, acting as the club's fourth-choice defender following the departure of longtime servant Martin Skrtel to Inter Milan.
was brought up in the famous West Ham youth academy, and made his first team debut for his boyhood club in 2016, coincidentally against Liverpool, and broke the Hammers' record for the youngest player to ever appear in a league game.
He made a second Premier League appearance, before leaving for Anfield in a huge deal worth £16.5 million.
The Trinidad & Tobago-born teenager, 17 this year, has already made the England Under-21 international team, and is clearly someone with massive amounts of talent.
Joseph made 5 league appearances in his first six months at Liverpool, and is expected to be given more game time this season, plenty of those naturally coming in cup games like the League Cup and the FA Cup.
At the same time, the right-back also has the advantage of not having much competition aside from Nathaniel Clyne & Jon Flanagan, and could very well be keeping them on their toes soon.