Caislin Boyle looks forward to the future with excitement and not just because of the signings made this summer but by the club’s retention of Rhian Brewster.
In a summer of sizeable transfer activity for the Reds, new contracts for lesser-profile players have gone somewhat under the radar. However, the news that Rhian Brewster has committed his long-term future to the Reds was met with fan celebration and a 10-minute reaction interview.
This was not a contract signed to ensure Brewster retains his sell-on value, but one signed to ensure the player knows how highly rated he is by the club. After all, this is a player who Jürgen Klopp has hailed as ‘fantastic’ and as ‘one of the most exciting prospects in English football’.
There was a genuine fear that 18-year-old Brewster would not sign professional terms with the Reds, with the forward generating huge interest from several clubs. Arsenal and Spurs were credited with an interest and Borussia Mönchengladbach felt the wrath of the club for being too eager in their pursuit of Brewster.
The fact that Brewster, a London boy, turned down both Arsenal and Spurs speaks volumes of Liverpool’s current standing within the global game.
This degree of interest was not without justification; Rhian has been a bright talent since signing for Liverpool from Chelsea at the tender age of 15. He was first invited to train with the first team squad at age 16 – with Klopp noting that he received ‘a lot of respect from the squad’.
He was an ever-present in the Pep Lijnders’ led ‘Talent Group’ who train at Melwood once a week. Those within the hallowed LFC corridors knew who he was.
However, the true extent of his talent was revealed during England’s 2017 U17 World Cup victory. Brewster scored 8 goals in total, including two hat-tricks, to put him amongst esteemed company.
He won the ‘Golden Shoe’, which had previously been won by Cesc Fabregas, Florent Sinama Pongolle and Carlos Vela (amongst others). As a momentary air of caution, there are also some relative flops on that list – demonstrating that it is up to Brewster to become something better.
Brewster’s showing at the World Cup raised his profile exponentially, with Klopp calling the forward himself and telling him to ‘save his number’.
That’s football flirtation at its best, and clearly the move of a manager who viewed Brewster as a potential first-team member.
Yet there is another issue which raised the profile of the young forward – Rhian chose to speak candidly about his experiences of racism to the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor. It is sad that an article about a young player’s potential need make any reference to race, but unfortunately, it’s an issue which has dogged his young career.
If Klopp was an admirer before, he became even more so upon witnessing the bravery shown by Brewster. He declared as much in the poignant letter delivered at the ‘Football Writers Player of the Year’ Awards. Brewster was in attendance as that letter was read out, and no doubt this incredible support system influenced Rhian’s decision to remain on Merseyside.
Returning to football, Rhian Brewster is a young forward with an incredible future in the game. Although currently injured, he has set ambitions to make first-team appearances next season. He now has the contractual solidity to fulfill those ambitions. Crucially, Brewster appears to feel safe, loved and cared for (as both a footballer and a human being). That matters at our club.
Brewster has already appeared once on the Liverpool bench, against Crystal Palace in 2017. Should he continue his expected trajectory there is no reason why a second appearance is not possible this season. In a Liverpool team where Daniel Sturridge can resurrect his career, there is no reason why Brewster cannot have his explode into life.
Brewster has made the right decision, and one which I sincerely hope is vindicated. His signing professional terms was met with celebration, and rightly so – we have a great prospect (and an even better person) at the club. We should treasure that.