Jürgen Klopp has revealed why he’s been playing 17-year old Ben Woodburn in a midfield role during this summer’s pre-season fixtures.
Ben Woodburn shot into the limelight last season when he opened his Liverpool Football Club goalscoring account against Leeds, becoming the Reds’ youngest ever player to do so.
Regarded primarily as a striker, the youngster operated mostly from the left-hand side during last season’s campaign when called upon, undertaking the occasional stint as a second-striker during Klopp’s experimentation with a 3-5-2 system against both Stoke and Wolves.
Interestingly, however, the Welsh prodigy has been fielded as the left sided number 8 in Klopp’s 4-3-3 system during pre-season so far this summer and it’s got to be said, he’s been impressive. Despite his small physical stature, the 17-year old has been superb on the ball, dribbling and passing his way through opposition
Despite his small physical stature, the 17-year-old has been superb on the ball, dribbling and passing his way through opposition midfields while his defensive work rate and energy levels certainly cannot be faulted.
For those of you like myself, who despite seeing him impress during his three outings so far, are interested to know why he’s being played there, Klopp has been kind enough to clear that up.
“Ben has played there a few times before and he’s a very smart player,” the German told reporters in Hong Kong.
“He’s too young to fix him to any one position. We want to have him in and around our team. We will see what happens as he grows. Will he get even smarter? 100 percent.
“Bringing him into the middle of the park will help him to learn the highest level of football under pressure. It’s exciting. I have no idea what his best position is, I’m just happy to have him around.”
Klopp has previously stressed that much of his pre-season tactical tinkering will have no bearing on the Reds upcoming Premier League campaign but Woodburn’s new role is certainly an interesting one.
Possessing adept dribbling abilities, an eye for goal and a clever passing range, the Welshman bears a number of raw similarities to a young Philippe Coutinho and it’s been well documented of late that Klopp hopes to use the little Brazilian in a similar role this season.
The youngster was used in a similar role in Liverpool U23s’ campaign last season and looked seriously impressive for much of 2016/17. The lad certainly has a big future and whether it’s as a midfielder, wide player or striker, I’m just glad to see him being given opportunities to shine.