Liverpool’s academy at Kirkby has produced some of the best players around in the past, from Steven Gerrard, who needs no introduction, to Michael Owen, who, again has a reputation which precedes him. In recent times, too, Trent Alexander-Arnold has taken the mantle and responsibility of successful academy products to enter and flourish in the Liverpool side.
Before then, however, world-class academy products were difficult to come by, and it seemed more and more likely that the Reds’ future would be ensured through the transfer market rather than Kirkby. Before the rise of the now dubbed ‘assists king’ of Merseyside, the next academy product seemed a long time away.
Yet, here Jurgen Klopp is; here Liverpool are, and here Rhys Williams, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams are, playing a consistent role to solve the previously assumed unsolvable Liverpool injury crisis.
Liverpool Academy Stepping up When Needed Most
Rhys Williams: From the National League to Champions League Football
If you told Rhys Williams that he would be keeping a clean sheet in an away game in the Champions League just one year after playing in the National League with Kidderminster, he’d have probably laughed in your face and told you to turn off the Playstation and switch back to real life.
But, here the young defender is, unexpectedly flourishing in the place of the injured Virgil van Dijk, looking as though he’d been playing on the biggest stage of European football for years, and not the perils of non-league English football.
Williams, with one hint of opportunity, has swapped the often waterlogged pitches of non-league for the slightly more famous Italian turf of the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia and Atalanta.
It has certainly been some story so far for the youngster who, in a similar fashion to how Joe Gomez and Alexander-Arnold stepped into the side, has used one man’s injury as his own opportunity to introduce himself to the on watching Liverpool fans.
Curtis Jones’ Composure Also Proving Key
Talented number 17s and Liverpool seem to be a match made in heaven. First came Steven Gerrard, who eventually moved into his famous number eight jersey, and, now, comes Curtis Jones. The Scouse-born midfielder curled his way from outside the box into Jurgen Klopp’s plans to confirm Everton misery at Anfield once again last season and hasn’t looked back since.
Now, after back to back starts, Jones looks more prepared than ever to become a permanent feature in Jurgen Klopp’s side. His composure on the ball was particularly impressive with a passing success rate of 93%, one assist and 71 passes completed, the most in the game, to top off a performance full of control and composure.
Perhaps a trajectory similar to that of Steven Gerrard can be expected; it is a bold claim, yes, but, after the start he’s had, Jones’ potential seems limitless in midfield.
Academy Influence Will Save Liverpool Money
Since van Dijk’s injury, many have been quick to hand Liverpool a list of possible short-term replacements from the transfer market. That list, however, has quickly been torn in half by Jurgen Klopp, who has crucially opted for the money-saving option from Kirkby.
All of a sudden, Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have arrived to slam Liverpool’s ever-growing wallet shut and further improve the reputation of the Liverpool academy.
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