Liverpool has one of the best youth academies in the world. However, there can be no argument that in recent years it has failed to produce any world-class home grown talent.
Since Steven Gerrard broke on to the scene in 1998, no academy graduate has seen a sustained run in the first team at Anfield.
However, things could be about to change.
Currently plying their trade in either the Liverpool youth setup, in the reserve team or gaining valuable experience out on loan, there seems to be more than enough talent for the Reds fans to get excited about.
Raheem Sterling is a perfect example. Since making his way in to an underperforming Kenny Dalglish team, the 19-year-old has become one of the first names on the Liverpool team sheet. Brendan Rodgers has even claimed that Sterling is “the best young player in European football at the moment.”
The performances of such an exciting, attacking talent demonstrates that the club has experienced a dramatic change in fortunes.
The following five players represent the cream of the crop at Anfield, with each having their own case to make an impact in the first team over the next few years.
Arguably the most intriguing signing made by Rodgers this summer, Divock Origi represents something of an unknown talent.
Having hit the headlines during the World Cup for his impressive performances, Liverpool fought off some of the biggest clubs around Europe to sign the 19-year-old. Costing the Reds around £10m, the terms of the transfer insisted that Origi would return to Lille on a season long loan. And the Belgium is taking full advantage of his opportunity, scoring four times in 11 appearances in all competitions so far.
Rodgers has kept in regular contact with his new recruit, sending him text messages and asking Anfield scouts to attend every game he plays.
For all the talk and hype surrounding Sterling at the moment, Liverpool have another hot prospect in the name of Jordan Ibe.
Having already made his first team debut against QPR at the end of the 2012/2013 season, many expected the youngster to go on and earn more opportunities in the first team.
Ibe then spent time on loan at Birmingham City the following season and also featured in a post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva stadium. The youngster produced a Man of the Match performance and showed just what he’s all about.
Now on loan at Derby County, the 18-year-old will have a full season in the Championship to gain some valuable first team experience.
Suso is a bit of an enigma. There’s no doubting his ability but when it comes to cementing a place in Rodgers’ starting XI, there are serious question marks.
Again, the young Spaniard has had to go out on loan to continue his development. He went back to his native country and joined Almeria. In 33 appearances for the La Liga side, the 20-year-old scored three goals and created seven assists.
However, contract issues are throwing huge doubts over the attacking midfielder’s future at Anfield. With the two parties unable to agree a suitable wage structure, it’s rumored AC Milan are ready to take advantage of the situation in January.
Suso has been quoted in a recent interview stating: “I will only renew with Liverpool if I’m guaranteed I’ll play regularly. The option is clear if I don’t renew: let me leave.”
Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori increased the defensive options available to Rodgers after signing for the Reds from Sporting Lisbon during the summer of 2013.
Liverpool’s reserves faced a sensational Sporting side in the newly-formed NextGen Series in 2011, which included Ilori at the heart of their defense.
Tiago’s technique and composure with the ball at his feet, added to his tactical reading of the game, ensured he caught the eye of on looking Anfield scouts.
Since joining the club, Ilori joined Spanish outfit Granada on loan in January 2014 until the end of the season. There, he played nine times, impressing in central defense, and experiencing victory over Barcelona.
He headed out on a temporary basis again in last August, this time to Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux for a season-long stay with the French club.
Andre Wisdom is in a similar situation, having left Liverpool to join West Bromwich on a season-long loan deal this summer.
Wisdom spent the majority of last season with Championship side Derby and boss Brendan Rodgers has sanctioned another move away from Anfield for the England U/21 regular.
With competition for places stronger than ever at Anfield, the 21-year-old will probably benefit from playing Premier League football elsewhere until he is fully ready to challenge in a red shirt.
However, with a highly criticized and much maligned back four, that includes just two fit centre backs, Rodgers could have done with some youthful backup players.
Baggies boss Alan Irvine is the beneficiary and was thrilled to have signed Wisdom, who has made 22 appearances for Liverpool and scored one goal.
He said: “Brendan spoke very, very highly about him.” High praise for a player that has a big future ahead of him for both club and country.
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