Pep Guardiola has been quoted as saying, “Liverpool Academy is the only one who can compete with ‘La Masia’. “ This has created lots of commentary about the Kirkby Academy and its progression forward. With Rodolfo Borrell in charge of the reserves and Mike Marsh in charge of the Academy, Liverpool has seen a lot of promise regarding their prospects this year. Between the Reserve League, Academy League and the new NextGen Series, Liverpool’s youth have been given a chance to succeed and push into the first team. Here is my list of the top ten Liverpool prospects in alphabetical order with videos attached to their name when possible. The only rule is they must still be a teenager.
18-year-old Vollyan Bijev hardly hit headlines when he signed at Liverpool over the summer. He is an American striker or attacking midfield that has been described as a “wonderkid” on the American scene. Before signing with Liverpool, he averaged a goal a game for the California Odyssey. He impressed the Liverpool coaching staff on his trial when he scored five goals and notched two assists in two matches for the Academy team. He was quickly loaned out to second tier Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf.
The 18-year-old, Liverpool born, has captained Liverpool’s youth team and also captained England’s U-17 squad to their first every U-17 European Championship in 2010. Conor Coady is able to play in central midfield, where he is tidy with possession or in central defense where he is a tough, physical presence. Coady is currently part of the reserve set-up, but has had tastes of the first-team as he traveled to Sparta Prague and was on the bench against Birmingham City. Coady had his first success at the first-team this year when he traveled with the squad to Asia and scored against Guangdong Sunray Cave.
18-year-old Jon Flanagan has already seen solid first-team action at right back when he debuted against Manchester City after the injuries of Martin Kelly and Glen Johnson. He performed excellently as Liverpool won 3-0. He played solidly whenever called upon, even knocking out Jamie Carragher with his head at one point. He was rewarded for his solid play when he was named Young Player of the Year in 2010-11. Flanagan has also been part of the set-up this year as he started the first match of the year against Sunderland and has made various Carling Cup appearances. His play has resulted in an England U-19 call-up that he wasn’t able to attend due to a calf injury.
Liverpool born, Adam Morgan remains in the youth system at Kirkby at 17 years of age. Morgan had a wonderful year for the Academy in the 2010-11 season playing as striker. He scored 21 goals and led the squad to second in the league. Morgan has been firing this year also as he is second in goals for Liverpool in the NextGen Series scoring two in the club’s five matches. Morgan has already appeared at the U-19 level for England and appeared in the U-17 World Cup. The future looks promising and he can hopefully pick up some first-team action in the next couple years.
Jack Robinson made his first appearance for the club at the young age of 16 years and 250 days. The 18-year-old left back has impressed people throughout the ranks with his ability to get forward. Robinson had his greatest impact when he appeared against Arsenal and Birmingham City during the 2010-11 season. Robinson still sees first-team action but has dropped behind the impressive Jose Enrique in the depth chart but has been featuring in the Carling Cup. Robinson has also played for many of the youth levels of England, playing in the U-16, U-17, U-18 and most recently the U-19 level.
The 19-year-old Jonjo Shelvey was solid for Liverpool last year and is currently on loan at Championship side Blackpool where he has been a pivotal player. Shelvey came from Charlton Athletic where he made his first appearance at 16 years and 59 days. Shelvey came to Liverpool in 2010 and was given first-team rotations almost immediately as he played in the Carling Cup and Europa League. Shelvey’s Blackpool loan is giving him the necessary time he needs to improve, if he can do better than a hat-trick against Leeds United or five goals in seven appearances for the club. Shelvey has also represented England’s youth team at the U-16, U-17, U-19 and U-21. He has captained the U-16 side and U-19 side.
The fiery Portugese winger has made an impact at the club after signing in 2009. Despite being very tall for his age, Toni Silva is known for his ball skills and pace. He likes to thunder down the wings and overwhelm full-backs and has down so well for Liverpool’s youth and NextGen squad. During the 2010-11 Academy year, Toni Silva scored 10 goals in 29 appearances, which was the fourth most for the Academy squad. This year, Silva is leading the NextGen squad in goals with three and looks to keep his tally going as Liverpool advanced past the group stages.
Raheem Sterling has only been described as a wonderkid. He is 16-years-old and has impressed the Liverpool faithful already after signing from Queens Park Rangers in 2010. Sterling is known for his plastering speed and his flair on the ball. At 15, he received his first substitute appearance for the first-team against Borussia Moenchengladbach in a friendly. Sterling has been solid for the Academy and NextGen Squad, but his most notable achievement occurred in the FA Youth Cup. On February 14, 2011, Sterling netted five of Liverpool’s nine goals against Southend United. He has played for England’s U-17 squad in the FIFA U-17 World Cup and scored a beautiful long-range goal for a victory against Rwanda.
The former Cadiz CF midfielder joined Liverpool in the summer of 2010 at the age of 16. Suso is known for his skills on the ball, whether it’s dribbling or his passing skills and has been compared to the likes of Iniesta and Fabregas. He was snatched up from the likes of Barcalona and Real Madrid and has been called Liverpool’s next Robbie Fowler. Suso appeared for the first-team in a friendly at 16 and now resides Reserves and the NextGen squad. Suso has also made appearances at the U-17 level for Spain. Suso looks to impress for Liverpool and make it into the first team on a regular basis in the near future.
Andre Wisdom (can’t seem to find a video)
18-year-old Andre Wisdom already has made a mark for club and country. Wisdom generally plays as a center-back, but can play at right back or in the center of the midfield. Wisdom is part of the reserve team, but was a centerpiece in Liverpool’s effort to reach the 2009 FA Youth Cup final. Wisdom also has many accolades at the international level. He was part of the England U16 team that won the 2008 Victory Shield and was an integral part of the U-17 European Championship victory over Spain as he scored for England. Wisdom has also worn the captain’s armband for the U-19 side after a fellow Red (Jonjo Shelvey) was substituted.