Much is cynically written about the rich young men coming through the ranks at England’s top clubs. Before really kicking a competitive ball in anger a youngster could, on paper, be truly made for life before their twenty-first birthday.
This had led to a rather dismissive stance towards young players as they try and forge a place for themselves at the elite clubs in The Premier League.
They are viewed as pampered, detached brats by the some. However it’s important to remember that these talented young footballers often have their dream of breaking in to the first team snatched away just as it looks so tangible and achievable.
Years of working towards their end goal are often in vain. Yes in alot of cases they will still have a career, but it will still be a tough blow to take, money or not.
Liverpool are a great example of this common occurrence. Spare a thought for the likes of Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson as they begin their new seasons away from the glamour of a top four side in the Premier League.
Yes both youngsters will not be financially impaired, but their career goal of an important first team role at Liverpool has just gotten that extra degree more remote.
More and more now, in the modern game, these youngsters are having to take these setbacks on the chin and show considerable resolve. There is increasingly less time for top clubs to blood youngsters in the first team, as the price for missing out grows more costly by the season.
The odd cup game here and there is all that these kids can hope for, unless, of course they are exceptional.
Curtis Jones and Nathaniel Phillips are just two of the latest highly billed youngsters in contention for the first team at Liverpool. Both have caught the eye this summer and Klopp is said to be suitably impressed.
For both, despite the huge enthusiasm and hunger from the fan base to see youngsters brought in from the academy, the challenge facing them is massive.
There are growing cries, particularly afyer last night’s win over Torino, for Klopp to throw the kids in.
Their talent is not in question. Jones looks full of confidence, happy to take defenders on and demand the ball from his senior team mates. Phillips is clearly a grafter the Kopp would take to and appears to read the game superbly for a youngster.
A few good showings in friendly games is one thing, but the step up to the first team is still an almighty leap. For most they won’t make it. For Phillips and Jones, it will be just as arduous.
Numbers stacked against them
Consider Phillip’s current elevated status. He is, no doubt, our current third choice centre back, after Van Dijk and Gomez. He will be in the squad for West Ham on Sunday and seems close to making his professional bow for the club.
However, in normal circumstances he’d sixth choice, with three senior players ahead of him. Once Klopp can pick from Klavan, Matip and Lovren again, Phillips will likely drop out of contention and fall back to under 23 duty.
The same applies to Jones in midfield. In all probability, both youngsters are likely to be exposed more and more to Klopp’s first team training, but that may be the best they can hope for.
Klopp is a manager who has a reputation for giving younger or unfancied players a chance, but this will be unlikely to make the route and easier for the duo. The German is not soft. He will take his time with the pair and only blood them if he’s absolutely convinced they are ready.
Rightly or wrongly these are the odds stacked against the likes of Jones and Phillips. A club like Liverpool is always under pressure to win the major honours and will often favour investing in proven talent over rough around the edges youngsters.
A vocefirous few supporters were demanding that Liverpool abandon their recent successful pursuit of Shaqiri from Stoke City. Their opposition was rooted in Harry Wilson’s apparent rising stock. They wanted the club to give the young forward a shot at the first team this season, following a fruitful loan spell at Hull City last season. That though, didn’t happen.
Shaqiri was signed and Wilson sent back to The Championship. It’s harsh but it’s the reality that these youngsters now face. Liverpool and Klopp have no time to gamble with youngsters unless they truly are ready to contribute to the first team.
If Phillips and Jones play a significant role for Liverpool this season, then they truly will have merited this current hype.