Liverpool: 5 Young Strikers to Fire Reds to Future Success

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2013

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 25:  Jurgen Locadia of PSV in action during the Eredivisie match between PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse Arnhem at Philips Stadion on November 25, 2012 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Liverpool are sure to be active in the transfer market this summer for some serious first-team reinforcements, not the least of which should be a central defender, a holding midfielder and a left-back.

Elsewhere though, they may be looking to continue their policy of recruiting positive, attacking youngsters who could provide more depth to the squad and have the potential ability levels to be a part of the first team for years to come.

While the likes of Suso and Raheem Sterling have made inroads to be included in that list this season, there are still plenty of other capable young attackers who Liverpool are likely to be monitoring—along with probably every other club on the continent—and who might be potential targets for this summer.

Liverpool forward Fabio Borini has yet to really establish himself following a series of injuries, while Daniel Sturridge has also suffered a few niggles since his arrival. It isn't likely that the Reds will want to spend huge money on another centre-forward, or wide forward attacker, but a reasonable investment now might go a long way to providing a massive return in years to come.

Investment, of course, comes in several ways—time, effort, belief and money being some of them.

What we are looking for here is a player who can contribute to the first team next season, not necessarily week in, week out in the Premier League but by being a substitute or impact player when required, someone who can play in the domestic cups and who can continue to learn from the more experience forwards at the club.


The Breakthrough Youngster

Jurgen Locadia is the first name who is worth taking a look at. The PSV striker is 19 years of age and has broken through to be a regular member of the first-team squad this season, playing 12 league games and scoring five goals.

Locadia has netted two hat-tricks this season, against VVV-Venlo in the league and against Zwolle in the Dutch Cup, as well as finding the net on his Dutch Under-21 debut. He mainly plays as a centre-forward, but can also operate from the right side of the attack.

Known as a good finisher, Locadia has impressive acceleration and looks set for a big future in the game, wherever he becomes a first-team player.


The Second Chancer

Connor Wickham is a name more familiar to followers of the Premier League, with Liverpool registered as interested in signing him before his move to Sunderland in 2011 (via Daily Post). Wickham eventually signed for the Black Cats, but his move has not quite worked out for him as yet, with both Steve Bruce and later Martin O'Neill failing to get the most out of a team which was put together with heavy expenditure.

Wickham has scored only twice this season—and hit one goal in 16 league games last season—but his early promise with Ipswich Town and his exploits with England's Under-21 side indicate that he still has a lot to offer to a team which can develop him the right way.

The 20-year-old could prove to be a bargain addition for Liverpool this summer if they snap him up as an alternative in attack to Sturridge.


The "Guaranteed" Superstar

What chances on a bigger splash of cash? Viktor Fischer of Ajax is making waves in his first full season as a pro—and would absolutely need a bigger outlay than his projected €2.5 million transfer market value—but looks to have all the tools to be a fantastic player.

Fischer, a Danish international at age 18, has operated mainly from the left side of Ajax's attack this season, though is perfectly capable a performer from the centre. Indeed, that could well be his longer-term fixed position.

He has 16 goals and eight assists from 36 Eredivisie matches so far this term.


The Reserve Gamble

Already a player at the club, Michael Ngoo will be hopeful of having an impact over the summer at Liverpool, impressing as he has done so far on a loan spell at Scottish Premier League club Hearts.

Ngoo has hit three goals in 12 games during his loan time in Scotland, but the experience of first-team action more than the goals themselves are what have given hope to the player and his admirers that he can be of use to the Liverpool first-team scene.

Ngoo may yet require another loan spell, but similarly he could come back for preseason and show that he can be an alternative option for the manager without needing to look elsewhere—at 1.94 metres tall—with impressive power and skill on the ground—Ngoo is definitely a different attacking option.


The Data-Driven Approach

Utilising a data-driven, statistical model to suggest a player—or group of players—who may have the desirable traits that future Liverpool players need, can potentially help to narrow down which young talents stand out above the rest.

In this instance, amongst a clutch of interesting possibilities arises the name of Federico Santander, a young Paraguayan striker who, at age 21, has not quite yet fulfilled the expectations of him but has looked like a quality youngster in the making.

This particular data-driven approach, devised by Lee Mooney, compiles a set of data including (but not limited to) domestic division and country, international standing, position, age, market value and other factors to give a "weighting" to each player—an index which can be used to "measure" one player against others. In this instance, the higher rating a player receives, certainly once that rating exceeds 1.200, the more likely they are to be suited to the needs of Liverpool.

Santander was a prodigious youth talent who made the move from his home country to France on loan during the 2010-11 season, to Toulouse. Last year he moved to Racing Club in a similar deal, but in the summer he then moved to Argentine side Tigres, where he is still playing on loan.

Taking part in the Torneo Final, Tigres are currently ninth in the table. Santander has yet to score in his 12 league appearances for them, but has scored in the Copa Libertadores—the South American Champions League—as he continues to get plenty of game time without being a specific first choice.

Despite not quite having the impact he had hoped for, at 21 he still has plenty of time ahead of him and, with six caps to his name at full international level already, has shown that there is plenty of quality to find while watching him.


Stats taken from

For further reading on Lee Mooney's data model, see here and here