NEXT BIG THING: Top 8 kids inside Liverpool youth system

tribalfootball.com’s third edition of ‘Next Big Thing’ takes a closer look at the most promising names currently on the books at Liverpool.
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tribalfootball.com’s third edition of ‘Next Big Thing’ takes a closer look at the most promising names currently on the books at Liverpool.

Continue reading to learn a bit more about our Top 8 coming out of Melwood and the Kirkby Academy in 2013/14.

 

Jordon Ibe

The 18-year old winger arrived at the Liverpool academy from Wycombe Wanderers in late 2011 after beginning his youth career with Charlton Athletic.

Ibe, who can also be deployed as a striker, appeared in seven League One matches and four cup outings for Wycombe, scoring once in his first start in October 2011.

Since joining the Reds, Ibe has played twice for the seniors, starting in the Premier League against QPR in May 2013 and in the Capital One Cup win over Notts County at the beginning of this season.

The England U19 international has been developing quickly on Merseyside but manager Brendan Rodgers feels he will benefit greatly from a loan move in order to enhance his first team experience.

"Young Jordon Ibe, what a talent he is," said Rodgers earlier this month before Ibe had his 18th birthday.

"He's 17 years of age and he trains up with us in the first-team squad.

"He will need a loan period because he needs to get games, he needs to go and get the environment and get playing. But he's another one who we really see for the future. But he probably will need a loan period."

Sergi Canos

16-year old Spanish striker Canos joined Liverpool from Barcelona this past summer and has quickly emerged as a key contributor for the U18 side.

Capped at U17 level internationally, Canos was only cleared to play for the Reds in November but immediately made an impact with a nice bit-part display against Stoke City’s U18s before opening his scoring account against Wolves on the 23rd.

Liverpool U18 head coach Neil Critchley is a big fan of Canos, writing of his adoration in his column for the club’s official website.

“Then there's Sergi, who joins us from Barcelona and is an exciting final-third player, who likes to beat people, get into the box and finish,” Critchley mused.

“He's very direct and he really comes to life when he's got the ball at his feet. He's exciting to watch and I'm sure supporters will relish watching him.”

Critchley added in the Liverpool Echo: "His attitude and demeanour around training has been great.

"He doesn't speak much English but he and the club are working hard on that.

"Sergi is such a likeable boy and he is always smiling. He is such an infectious character and he plays the game with energy and life. We are delighted to have him."

Pedro Chirivella

Chirivella left Valencia to join the Reds in the summer of 2013 and like Canos, was only recently cleared to play for his new club.

The 16-year old holding midfielder, who loves to control the play, is highly-rated at Kirkby and is expected to become a valued member of the U18 and U21 setups.

Critchley was equally gushing in his praise for Chirivella who was being tracked by Manchester City before his shift to Merseyside.

“Pedro is very good technically and tactically. He's very composed on the ball and brings an assurance to our football,” wrote Critchley.

“He's bright, he knows the game and he knows the positions to take up on the pitch. He's got an old head on young shoulders.

“He joined us from Valencia where he was the U16 Spanish international captain throughout 2012-13 and operates in the classic No.6 midfield role.”

Lloyd Jones

The Welsh defender arrived at Liverpool from Plymouth Argyle in the summer of 2011 before signing a pro deal in July this year.

18-year old Jones was an integral part of the Reds’ NextGen and U21 teams last season and even made it into the senior matchday squad for a clash with Fulham in May.

In reference to that call-up, Jones told Sky Sports earlier this year that he was prepared to step up his work-rate in order to eventually force his way into Brendan Rodgers’ first team.

"This season has gone really well for me and it has been a great learning curve for me," he said.

"It was a massive experience for me to be involved in the first team and I really, really enjoyed it and I learnt a lot. It has definitely made me hungry to play for the first team and hopefully I can do that in the future.

"I know I am a long way off from becoming the finished article.

"I am at the first stage of my career and I am determined to work hard to become the best I can."

João Carlos Teixeira

20-year old Portuguese playmaker Teixeira kicked off his youth career with Braga before moving to Sporting Lisbon in 2004. From there he made his way to Liverpool in a deal worth just over £800,000 in February 2012.

Compared to former FC Porto, Chelsea and Barcelona ace Deco, Teixeira trained with Sporting’s first team during the 2011/12 season after impressive displays for the Portuguese club in the NextGen series which caught the attention of the Reds.

The Portugal U21 international was sent on loan to League One side Brentford in September but returned in early October after making just two substitute appearances. Then-Bees boss Uwe Rosler (now with Wigan Athletic) made it clear that the decision to send the promising talent back to Liverpool early was simply that Teixeira was a victim of circumstance at Griffin Park.

"Joao came to us at an unfortunate time," Rosler said at the time. "We do not have the same flow to our game as we did in pre-season or at the start of the season.

"I didn't want him to get frustrated. It is not about Joao's qualities, it is the situation.

"The player has gone back and we will concentrate on what we have. We have enough midfield players, we won't replace him."

Jerome Sinclair

Birmingham-born, the 17-year old striker joined the Reds academy from West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2011.

Sinclair holds the record for the youngest player to represent the Anfield club at 16 years and six days, bettering Jack Robinson’s previous record, when he came on as a late sub in a league cup tie against the Baggies in September 2012.

The England U17 international has impressed both U18 coach Critchley and academy chief Frank McParland alike since his arrival on Merseyside.

“I have to say he's got a lot of tools in his locker already and he's a very exciting player. He's still got some developing to go and he's very receptive to the work,” wrote on the club’s official website.

"Jerome is focused, he wants to learn and he wants to get better, so therefore he's one who you always want to help because he's so eager to do well."

Of the Ian Frodsham Young Player of the Year, McParland told the Daily Mail in May: "Jerome has been training regularly with the first team but we decided to take him out of the action for four or five weeks recently because we felt he had done a little too much and we want him to come back bigger and stronger next season.

"It's amazing to think he is still on schoolboy registration forms because he is coming along well."

Harry Wilson

16-year old winger Wilson has bundles of ability, evidenced by him becoming the youngest-ever player to represent Wales at senior level.

A left-sided player with plenty of pace and tricks, he stepped out for the Dragons in a World Cup qualifier against Belgium in October 2013 at just 16 years and 208 days.

At club level, Wilson has been with Liverpool since he was eight years old and became an official part of the club’s academy when he turned 15.

With the player already exposed to senior international football, there is expected to be plenty of attention on him as he develops, but Critchley insists the Reds will nurture him patiently.

"Harry's at the early stages of development and he's only just joined us full-time at the Academy, having been here since the age of eight,” he wrote on the club’s official website.

"So we don't want to put any more pressure on him - he knows he's got to develop and he knows the areas of his game that he has to improve and he's more than committed to getting out on the training pitch to work on those areas.

"I have to say, it's very rare for a player of Harry's age to go into the full national team at this point and I must say we weren't expecting it.

"But what he has got to do now is use that experience to his advantage and we need to make sure we don't put too much of a spotlight on him and just let him develop naturally.”

Yan Dhanda

English-born of Indian heritage, Dhanda arrived at the Reds this past summer after spending time with Aston Villa, Walsall, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion prior.

Dhanda actually won a trial with Chelsea after saluting in the U11 category of the southwest London clubs ‘Search for an Asian star’ competition but declined because he was already associated with the Baggies.

An attacking midfielder with plenty of scope for improvement, Dhanda has targeted becoming a first-team player at Anfield within five years but he is aware there is plenty of work to do before that is achieved.

“Short-term is to keep getting fitter, work on both feet, keep developing as a player, keep listening to the coaches and learning from them,” he told the club’s official website in October.

“My long-term ambition would be to get into the first team before I am 20. 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.”

Of his heroes, as well as the way he plays, Dhanda added: “I grew up liking David Silva but since I've moved to Liverpool, my favourite footballer has been Philippe Coutinho because he plays in a similar position and I try to play the same way as him.

“I really admire Steven Gerrard for all he's done in the game and coming through the ranks. He started where I am now. Jamie Carragher has gone now but he did it the same way. I really respect that.”

In addition, Dhanda was shortlisted in the 'Up and Coming Asian Player of the Year' category at the Asian Football Awards earlier this year.

 
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