Jonathan Davies examines two of Liverpool’s most promising youngsters and the effect they could have in the future.
Liverpool Football Club has an immense reputation for finding and nurturing young talent. Our transfer policy over the past few seasons was to buy young players for the future.
Some players haven’t developed as we might have hoped. Players such as Markovic and Ibe who were so exciting, to begin with, have not lived up to their potential whereas players such as Emre Can and Divock Origi have thrived at Liverpool Football Club.
Here are two young players to look out for this season:
Joe Gomez was bought from Charlton Athletic in the Summer of 2015 for £3.5 million. He was originally brought in to be sent out on loan to further his experience, however, he impressed a significant amount of people during pre-season in Down Under.
Not playing in his preferred position of centre-back, he was shifted out wide to left-back where his physical attributes served him well. His composure on the ball was impressive for a player of his age and he was many peoples’ player of the tour.
However, with many Liverpool fans getting excited at the prospect of his return, we had to wait for the Premier League to start to really know if this young man was as good as we’d hoped and we were not disappointed.
Gomez made his League debut in the first game of the season away at Stoke City. Many people were surprised that his name was in the starting eleven over the established left back of the previous season, Alberto Moreno – especially when the first game was against such a physical team.
However, he put in a solid performance and was part of the back line which chalked up their first clean sheet of the season. Not only that, but he provided Philipe Coutinho the pass which he duly blasted into the back of the net from a good 30 yards.
Not a bad start for the young man, a clean sheet and an assist on his debut. Joe kept his place in the next game at home to Bournemouth. While not having much to do, he did all that he had to with composure and once again helped the team with their second clean sheet of the season.
It was in the next game away at the Emirates that he started gathering attention from other fans and pundits. Once again, questions were raised when Gomez’s name was in the starting eleven as many fans feared the worst, a young lad not in his preferred position against one of the league’s best players of the previous season, Alexis Sanchez.
Joe, however, was up to the task, putting in a MOTM performance, keeping Alexis quiet and even making him swap wings to try and get him to make an impact on the game. Even when the direct Chamberlain came on and starting running at him he kept his head and defended solidly. The Reds came away with another clean sheet in a pulsating 0-0 draw.
In the next game against West Ham, however, we saw the problem with playing a right-footed player on the left hand side of the pitch who always wanted to cut back onto his preferred foot. This was easily dealt with as every time he tried to cross the ball into the box his angles were blocked.
Liverpool struggled to break down a sturdy West Ham and fell to an embarrassing 3-0 defeat. In the next game it got even worse for the young lad as he once again struggled to contribute to the attack due to his preference of feet and gave away a soft penalty in another embarrassing loss for the Reds, going down 3-1 at Old Trafford.
This was the end of Joe’s season as he was dropped for the next few games and then sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury putting him out for the whole season. Joe has worked hard throughout the 2015/16 season to get back to playing, but suffered another set back extending his time on the sidelines.
Gomez is due back near the end of October, but will not be expecting to get any first-team action any time soon due the regression in fitness while being out for over a year.
We hope that when Joe does return he continues his fine form that he showed us so early on in his Liverpool career, and things are looking good as rumours have surfaced saying that Klopp sees Gomez very much in his plans for the future.
Sheyi Ojo is one of Liverpool’s brightest prospects. His lightning pace and willingness to run has put him among the starting eleven on numerous occasions. Ojo was bought from MK Dons for a fee of around £2 million on November 11th 2011, at the age of just 14.
Fast forward to February 2015 and Ojo was loaned to Championship side Wigan Athletic where he spent the remainder of the 2014/15 season applying his trade. Ojo returned to Liverpool for pre-season and scored a last minute winner against Swindon in a dramatic 2-1 win.
He was later rewarded with a new and improved contract from the club, which once again shows us how promising this kid is. Later that same week, he was loaned out to another Championship team. This time, Wolves.
Sheyi was recalled from his loan in January 2016 and made his first team competitive debut in a 2-2 draw at Exeter City during an FA Cup tie. In the replay at Anfield, he scored a delightful curling strike into the top right-hand corner, which certainly introduced him to the Anfield faithful.
Ojo made his Premier League debut for the Reds at St Mary’s where he was an used substitute in a disappointing 3-2 loss. However, he continued to get various first team football action, as Klopp looked to rest many of his first team players due to our Europa League run of the 2015/16 season.
This allowed Ojo to gain game time and also experience. One performance that particularly stood out was when Stoke visited Anfield in April. Ojo’s electrifying pace was too much for the Stoke City’s fullbacks as he got past them on numerous occasions, allowing him to put in an inch perfect cross for Daniel Sturridge to head home. This was the first time that we had properly seen Ojo performing at a high level and boy did we enjoy it.
Ojo is currently returning from an injury sustained while on the pre-season tour of America. However, it was not all bad for Ojo as during the tour he managed to bag himself a goal against Calcio A team Roma.
Ojo will be looking to improve and try and cement a place in the first team squad this season. We all know he has talent let’s just hope he reaches his potential.