Liverpool suffered a disappointing pre-season defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Tuesday afternoon.
The Reds never really got started and were beaten 4-0 by a fitter United side. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were some good displays amongst the 32 different players who turned out for Liverpool against Man United.
Not least were 17-year-old pair Stefan Bajcetic and Isaac Mabaya.
Mabaya, playing at right-back, was possibly Liverpool’s best player in the opening half-hour. Meanwhile, Bajcetic came on in the second group and tidied things up for his team.
Mabaya announces himself in Bangkok
There are several reasons behind Liverpool allowing Neco Williams to leave the club this summer. One of those reasons could well be the ability of Mabaya.
Although technically a midfielder, Preston-born Mabaya didn’t look out of place at all occupying Trent Alexander-Arnold’s usual slot.
He raided forward at will and most of Liverpool’s best openings came from either he or Luke Chambers on the other side.
At the other end, he was also adept – making a goal-saving block on a Marcus Rashford shot after a Nat Phillips error.
Liverpool have just signed Calvin Ramsay to play back-up to Trent Alexander-Arnold. But having made the bench for the first-team last season, on this showing don’t be surprised to see Mabaya sniffing around again in 2022/23.
Bajcetic shows why Liverpool wanted him
If Mabaya was eye-catching, then Bajcetic went slightly more under the radar. Nevertheless, the composure that the Spanish youngster showed on the ball was superb.
It’s clear to see why he has been moved from centre-back to central midfield. His technical ability and short passing between the lines was a real joy to watch.
However, his defensive prowess also came to fore – he blocked one counter-attack down Liverpool’s left with ease.
Liverpool had to be quick to sign Bajcetic from Celta Vigo in 2021 as Brexit rules were about to be enforced. Watching him in Bangkok, it’s obvious why Liverpool were so keen to get the deal done.
There’s still a long way to go before either of these youngsters are genuine options for Klopp. But the manager will no doubt have been impressed with what he saw, despite the defeat.
Others impressed too. Chambers was unlucky not to score, while Bobby Clark ran the channels willingly against some experienced centre-back’s. But Mabaya and Bajcetic were the standouts.
Roll on Singapore, with Crystal Palace to come on Friday. There’ll hopefully be another chance for these two terrific teens, and Klopp’s other kids, to impress once again.