Jonjo Shelvey—Liverpool's latest recruit. The signing was announced on Wednesday and the player is set to join on the 10th of May 2010.
Apart from Shelvey, Liverpool have also snapped up youngster Raheem Sterling from QPR two months back, and are also setting their eyes on another young British talent, Danny Wilson of Rangers.
All these tell you one thing. No, Liverpool have not lost their competence in the transfer market. But instead, Rafa Benitez and his fellow scouts are building the future of Liverpool.
As mentioned earlier, Rafa Benitez has just taken full control of the youth development last summer, and is working closely with Kenny Dalglish to nurture local talents from the Academy.
This season has seen the likes of Daniel Ayala, Nathan Eccleston, and Dani Pacheco making their first team debuts. I'm sure more will follow next season. I'm tipping Reserves captain Steven Irwin, David Amoo, Lauri Dalla Valle, and Michael Ngoo to be among the ones who will feature in the pre-season this summer and may make their senior bow when the season starts in August.
But what pleases me is not the fact that so many young talents are coming up the ranks, but it's the timing of their emergence which could be the key to the success of this whole project.
Some have ridiculously suggested that Shelvey is a replacement for Steven Gerrard, which is absolutely absurd. Yes, Shelvey could replace Gerrard someday, but no way is he an immediate replacement for the talismanic skipper.
Arsenal might have struggled initially with the introduction of the youngsters into the first team, but I believe that Rafa will not force such a drastic change. He has been exposing the youngsters slowly when the time is right, while keeping the squad around the spine of the team.
First, Damien Plessis and Nabil el Zhar. Then, Martin Kelly, Stephen Darby, and Jay Spearing. Followed by, Daniel Ayala, Nathan Eccleston, and Dani Pacheco.
Rafa Benitez is obviously not rushing the youngsters to make their debuts at the age of 16, but he is the type who times their debuts perfectly, without affecting the overall look of the squad greatly.
Not to mention that the presence of the likes of Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard, and Fernando Torres in the training ground will only aid the youngsters' development.