Barring the mother of all collapses from Manchester United, Liverpool will next season compete in the UEFA Europa League for the first time in almost seven years.
Having reestablished themselves as one of the biggest clubs in Europe and England’s strongest representation in the UEFA Champions League under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool will return to Europe’s second-tier competition, which since 2016 has evolved a lot.
Whilst some supporters will scoff at the idea of a club as big as Liverpool competing in the Europa League, the truth of the matter is that the tournament has grown exponentially, with this season alone seeing major clubs like FC Barcelona, Arsenal and the aforementioned United feature.
For Liverpool, they are already early favourites to win next season’s competition, yet the Europa League can serve as a way for Jurgen Klopp to hand important minutes to players in his side. And here are five players who could thrive in the competition next year.
With Liverpool’s senior squad set to downsize massively this summer with the departures of Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Naby Keita, minutes in the Europa League could be crucial for an out-of-favour player to impress, and no name needs that more than Kostas Tsimikas.
The £12m defender has been a bench-warmer this season with Andy Robertson keeping his spot at left-back for the majority of the year, and whilst the Scotsman could still feature in the Europa League, Tsimikas will be craving the chance to compete in Europe and to show Klopp what he’s got in his locker.
One of many Liverpool youngsters who has enjoyed a fine year out on loan, Conor Bradley returns to Anfield this summer with a real shot of being promoted into the first-team, and the Europa League could be an excellent first step into the Anfield side’s senior fold for the teenager.
Bradley was one of Bolton Wanderers’ best players this season, and with the right-back already a full international with Northern Ireland, Europa League football could be perfect for the 19-year-old in his journey to becoming Liverpool’s new starting right-back.
Another youngster who has excelled out on loan in the EFL this season is Tyler Morton, and whilst the midfielder already has experience in the Liverpool first-team, competing in Europe could be a fantastic experience for the 20-year-old midfielder.
Morton has thrived with Blackburn Rovers this season and already looks ready for Premier League football next year, and the Europa League could be where the youngster cuts his teeth for Liverpool’s senior team, with the midfielder no doubt ready for the challenge.
The youngest player on this list by some distance, Ben Doak has been one of Liverpool’s best players at U-21 level this season, and Klopp could feel like the Scottish teenager is ready for the first-team leap next term via appearances in the Europa League.
The former Celtic wonderkid already has five Liverpool first-team caps to his name, and competing in Europe and gaining experience on the continent could be an ideal next step for Doak’s exciting development, with the 17-year-old due for a big year on Merseyside.
Liverpool’s attacking ranks makes it that an academy player getting minutes in the Europa League could be a rareity, yet Klopp could be missing a trick in failing to use Layton Stewart in the competition, who this season has been remarkable for the U-21s.
12 goals in all competitions has made the 20-year-old striker a prime candidate to make the leap to Liverpool’s senior team, and the Europea League could see Stewart make a name for himself should Klopp be bold enough to hand the forward a chance in Europe.