This summer Liverpool brought in no senior players to improve the first team. Michael Edwards recruited youth stars Sepp Van Den Berg and Harvey Elliott whilst Andy Lonergan and Adrian joined as backup goalkeepers. Takumi Minamino and Joe Hardy arrived in January in a similar vein. Pep Lijnders referred to the hiring of Vitor Matos as the club’s “signing of the season” – he’s already proving a hit.
Vitor Matos joined Liverpool at the start of October, leaving Porto for Merseyside.
The Portuguese arrived as elite development coach, he has since been described by Jürgen Klopp as “the connector”.
When the boss refers to Matos as “the connector” he is referencing the the fact that one of the key aspects of the coach’s role is to link together the academy, the reserves, the loan manager and the first team.
Matos is key to ensuring that each player is at the right place for their development – should they be training with the first team? Should they be given a loan move? Does Jürgen need temporary cover in a certain position?
In essence, Matos is there to maximise the amount of players from the academy making it into the first team. The obvious goal is self sustainability in the manner that Barcelona achieved with their La Masia academy.
Against Shrewsbury Town we saw that Vitor Matos (along with academy director Alex Inglethorpe and U23 manager Neil Critchley) has already been making huge strides towards this self sustainability.
The Young Reds played out of their skin but most importantly they played the Liverpool way.
The youngsters pressed with ferocity and determination but also with the same pressing triggers that we see in the first team.
Stylistically each position on the pitch mirrored the first XI, the winning goal was a result of a raking pass from right back – much like we’ve seen from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Vitor Matos’ instillation as the connector is already paying dividends, his ability to make sure that the youth are being groomed in the image of the first team could save us millions in the future.
With The Independent recently claiming that Klopp doesn’t see much point splashing out on cover for Trent when Neco Williams is showing such promise, he already is saving us millions.