Liverpool FC: Power Ranking the Top 10 Teenagers in the Reds' System
Liverpool Football Club have long had one of the brightest groups of young footballers in the world, and that continues today. The tradition of scouting and development is a long-lived one on Merseyside, and it has produced some of England's greatest ever players, including the likes of Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler.
Melwood Training Ground continues to produce some of the top youngsters in the game. Liverpool are safe in the knowledge that, as their star players grow older, there will always be new, equally good ones ready to step in. The future is in good hands for Liverpool. They have no worries.
Ten years down the line, this team will only be better than it is now. These are the men who will ensure that.
10. Andre Wisdom
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Andre Wisdom is a big, strong defender who has a bright future at Anfield. The robust centre back stands at 6'2" and is much more mature than his tender age suggests. He has captained the England U-19s, and is a great leader on and off the field.
At just 18, Wisdom is set to break into the first team. He has impressed in the academy and the reserves for several seasons now, and has long been on the radar of the Reds' management.
This year, before the club signed Seb Coates, he appeared to be the first centre back reserve not on the bench. The signing of the Uruguayan is a good thing for him, as he now has the opportunity to further hone his skills for a season or two in the reserves.
9. Villyan Bijev
Villjan Bijev is an extremely talented centre forward who joins Liverpool from California Odyssey. He has a high skill level, and is very versatile. He roams the field and runs an offense, similar to Lionel Messi at Barcelona
Kenny Dalglish secured the services of the 18-year-old American on transfer deadline day, but immediately sent him out on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf of the German Second League in order to avoid a transfer veto due to a lack of a work permit.
The move came after Bijev impressed with five goals in a two-game trial period with the Reds' academy. Bijev will likely spend a couple of seasons away on loan, but has a good chance of cracking the first team on his return.
8. Danny Wilson
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Danny Wilson is a versatile Scottish defender who has already broken into the senior international team.
He was signed by Liverpool last summer, but would only make two appearances. The 19-year-old is a few seasons away from any potential regular spot in the Reds' starting XI but, with patience from both the player and club, he could be a key component to the squad sooner rather than later.
The Scot is a fringe player at Anfield and has yet to make an appearance this season. There are talks of him leaving on loan in January, and the move would certainly benefit him.
He is good enough to start at more than half of the Premier League clubs, if he could get some top tier experience elsewhere, before trying to make his permanent mark at Anfield, it would be a good thing for all involved.
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If you had to think of one word to describe Jesus Fernandez Saez, it would be "flair."
Suso, as he is better known, is one of the most creative and skillful players you will see. The Spaniard plays a game somewhere in between Luis Suarez and Alberto Aquilani, bringing his own hybrid dimension to the Reds' teenage group.
Suso is knocking on the door of a first team spot at Anfield but, with a player like Suarez already in the team, he may have a couple of years left before he has a chance of cracking the Starting XI.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the 17-year-old head out on loan to gain some valuable first team experience. Like Wilson, he would be welcome at several Premier League teams.
6. Adam Morgan
One of two '94 born players on this list, Morgan is a highly touted, and highly talented, striker at Melwood academy. He is a prolific scorer who has already appeared at the U-17 World Cup with England.
Morgan is Liverpool's best young striker by far. The Merseyside-native has been the reserves most valuable player for a season now, and will continue to be the go-to guy for academy goals this season.
It wouldn't be surprising to see him head out to a lower league club on loan next season. He is still a couple of years away from full-time Anfield action, but Liverpool management will be salivating at the thought of a strike partnership consisting of Luis Suarez and Adam Morgan.
5. Conor Coady
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Central Defender / Central Midfielder—18
Conor Coady truly is an extremely versatile player who can play in a variety of positions. The Liverpool born midfielder is a great leader who has captained almost every team he has ever played for.
The 18-year-old is Liverpool's future captain, and will likely take over from Steven Gerrard when he leaves. Coady could also be Gerrard's replacement on the field.
With Liverpool's depth of elite young defenders, Coady may be permanently put in the heart of the midfield. He is unlikely to make his breakthrough this season, but if Gerrard encounters any injury problems again, Coady may be thrust into the first team.
He will perform.
4. Jack Robinson
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It is absolutely shocking to see Jack Robinson this low on the list.
It is nothing to do with any lack of quality on his part, more to do with the outstanding list of young players on Liverpool's ledger. Robinson could very easily be a lot higher up.
The left-back became the youngest ever Liverpool player when he made his debut aged 16. He broke through after several injuries rocked the Reds, and impressed pretty much everyone who saw him play.
It is easy to forget how young Robinson is. Having just turned 18, he is in absolutely no rush. He will remain a fringe player this season for the Reds, but should be the first choice on the left behind Jose Enrique.
He will be able to develop in Jose Enrique's shadows for the time being, but it wouldn't at all be surprising to see Robinson overtake the Spaniard for starting XI duties by his 20th birthday.
3. Raheem Sterling
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Raheem Sterling is the youngest player on this list, and he is arguably the one with the brightest future.
The 16-year-old Jamaican-born winger is still in school, but has already featured in the English U-17 team, and has solidified himself as one of the English national team's brightest young prospects.
This season, Sterling will continue to dominate the academy and youth setup at Anfield. There is a good chance he sees first team action, as the Reds are somewhat low on elite quality down the left wing.
He could be put into a similar situation as Jack Robinson was last season, where injuries give him an opening into the team. Liverpool, though, need to be careful not to rush him. Players like these don't come along too often. You need to be delicate.
2. Jonjo Shelvey
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Jonjo Shelvey is another player whose age people seem to forget.
The 19-year-old has already stamped his name in the squad at Anfield, and has become a valuable contributor off the bench. Steven Gerrard's return will limit his appearances, but there is no doubt Shelvey will continue to grow and blossom into an excellent player under the Kop legend.
Shelvey will not go out on loan. Liverpool consider him one of their top young players, and they want to be watching over him with a hawk eye. He will be given plenty of opportunities in the XI, and he needs to prove he deserves them.
Over the next few seasons, he is likely to compete for playing time with fellow midfielder Conor Coady. The two will play together in the heart of the Anfield midfield one day.
1. John Flanagan
When Liverpool re-signed Glen Johnson to a two-year contract, it was under the assumption that John Flanagan would be ready to take his spot after the expiration of the contract. He will.
Flanagan, just 18 years of age, is good enough to play on at least 15 Premier League teams, and has already solidified himself as a solid player for Liverpool.
Though he makes the odd mistake, this is all part of the learning process, and Liverpool fans will be glad they went through with it when they see him as the best right back in England.
Flanagan is among the best teenage footballers in the world and, with continued development, he can become a top player.
The older Martin Kelly will battle Johnson for time as the right back this season, but he is a natural centre back and will eventually return there. The right defense spot is there for the taking.
Flanagan will take it.
The future is bright for Liverpool Football Club.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95