Rhys Williams delivered a performance of the highest order after making his senior debut for Liverpool during a 7-2 victory against Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup last night.
It was such a dominant and accomplished performance that it could open the door to another potential start against Arsenal in the fourth round of the competition next week.
Williams, 19, was utterly imperious alongside Virgil van Dijk in the first half and was just as effective with Fabinho in the second.
He was key in Liverpool’s patient build-up play which saw Williams clock up an extremely impressive passing accuracy of 96.5% – which was only bettered by Van Dijk who played 45 minutes less than the teenager.
Williams also completed 85 passes which according to WhoScored, was only beaten by Marko Grujic (96).
It was about as calm and assured as it can get from a player who spent last season on loan with Kidderminster Harriers in National League North.
Williams also produced one of the outstanding plays of the match after his pin-point long-range pass to find Divock Origi was struck to perfection and directly led to the third goal which was swept home by Curtis Jones.
He never looked out of place alongside both Van Dijk and Fabinho, who are both among the world’s best in their respective positions. It was telling how Williams was utilised ahead of Sepp van den Berg which could suggest that the teenager is expected by Klopp to play a more prominent role in the first team this season.
Williams was instinctively alert from the get-go and vindicated Klopp’s reoccurring stance that Liverpool’s central defensive prospects are in no need of further recruitment with such talented options from the academy at the manager’s disposal.
What more can he do?
Williams answered the question impressively and came through the 90 minutes without injury. This was particularly important considering three of Klopp’s central defensive options in the form of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Billy Koumetio all suffered injuries in the past seven days.
Fitness and durability will be key if Williams is to gain more experience under Klopp as the Liverpool boss needs ready-made options he can immediately count on at any given moment.
Williams’ performance will have done the defender a world of confidence and the swagger in his play typified the incredible work overseen at the academy by Alex Inglethrope and Vitor Matos who have implemented Klopp’s preferred style of play into all section of the youth development programme at the club.
It means that if Klopp is to offer his array of young talent the opportunity in the senior set-up then players already are accustomed and attuned to how the Liverpool boss likes to play.
This is so important as it means the Liverpool ethos and philosophy is implemented into players from an early age and this is only going to benefit the club going forward.
Williams is a direct beneficiary of this having progressed through the academy ranks since U10’s level and his performance against Lincoln was vindication to that particular notion.
He made two tackles, three interceptions, one clearance and won four of his aerial defensive duels – more than any player on the pitch.
Capped at England Under-18 level, Williams is renowned for his dominance in the air and his commanding physicality at the back and it showed last night to indicate to Klopp that Liverpool have yet another young and aspiring central defensive prospect to be reckoned with.
As far as the court of fan opinion goes, Liverpool fans have made up their minds that Williams is must start in the fourth round clash with Arsenal. Hopefully, Klopp feels the same way…
I'm convinced he's Virgil's son. The hair, the confidence, the skills. It's gotta be genetics
— ThiagoSZN (@6ThiagoSZN) September 25, 2020
What a debut in the hardest position for a youngster to play in. Expect great things from this fella
— Spen (@unrealxherdan) September 25, 2020
Impressive debut, the pass to Origi for Jones’ first goal was top drawer
— Michael Grimwood (@MichaelGrimwoo5) September 25, 2020
Very impressed with him. Having the best CB in the world beside him in the first 45mins helped but I wouldn't be too worried if he was our 4th/5th choice CB this season. #YNWA Solidarity with @necowilliams01 also who has been targetted by trolls again #YNWANeco
— John-Paul Fahy (@jp_fahy) September 25, 2020
Buzzing for this lad…You have all around you to become the best in the position… Go for it Williams.
— oluwadare tolulope (@teedreazy) September 25, 2020
— mark (@pastyguru) September 25, 2020
Mini van Dijk
— Madao FC (@karthik_jammy) September 25, 2020
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