15-Year-Old Liverpool Starlet Yan Dhanda Wants to Emulate Sterling and Coutinho

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2014

Liverpool FC

It's Inside Liverpool FC Academy week at Bleacher Report, and day two brings an exclusive interview with a highly rated player from the lower age groups—the talented youngster Yan Dhanda, who joined from West Bromwich Albion in 2013.

Day 1—Meet Liverpool's "Next Gerrard" Jordan Rossiter/Most Exciting LFC Academy Stars

A young attacking midfielder, Yan Dhanda is just 15 years old and is already looked at as one of the Reds' academy's top prospects, with his talent enough to earn a move from West Brom last year.

Dhanda naturally hasn't made his Liverpool debut yet but is certainly one to keep an eye on as he moves through the youth age groups—while he is also an England youth international, too.

Bleacher Report spoke to him about life at Liverpool, the first-team players he admires and much more in an exclusive chat.

BLEACHER REPORT: How much of academy life is different at Liverpool compared to at West Brom? Is it just natural progression through age groups and thus more demands, or is the culture noticeably different between clubs?

YAN DHANDA: Both academies are great, but for me personally, Liverpool has been fantastic. The coaches really work with you to develop you here, and the environment is all geared towards supporting players on an individual basis. In my opinion, at West Brom, a lot of emphasis was around winning tournaments, but at Liverpool, it's about producing players who would be good enough for the first team.

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B/R: Do you face mental challenges as much as technical or physical ones when stepping up to play with higher age groups and older players?

YD: It's harder, physically, because the players are stronger and quicker, but it's good because you get support from the older players and they help you through it. They tell me to play with confidence and it will help me.

B/R: For those who haven't seen you in action, which of Liverpool's current first-teamers would you compare your style to?

YD: I would like to play like Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling.

B/R: You've been able to travel with the first team for the Champions League/UEFA Youth League fixtures; how has that been as an experience and what can you take from the competition?

YD: It was good being around the players. The Academy Director told me before we left for Madrid that I would be staying an extra day after the game to train with the first team. It was like a dream...didn't seem real.

B/R: Are there any first-team players or coaches you have developed a relationship with? Who are the players you look up to most?

YD: For me, it is Coutinho and Sterling because I like their playing style.

Dhanda has represented England at under-16 level
Dhanda has represented England at under-16 levelBen Hoskins/Getty Images

B/R: How did your move to Liverpool come about and who was involved in scouting you or bringing you in?

YD: Matthew Newbury brought me here. I believe he watched a few games while I was at West Brom, not sure which ones, and then when Liverpool came for me, I couldn't turn it down. 

B/R: Tell us about Academy life: How much time might be spent playing or training on an average week? What do you do in your "down time" and which team-mates do you hang out with most?

YD: I get Sundays and Fridays off. Friday is the day before a game and Sunday is the day after. Then I train every other day for about two hours each day; on a Wednesday a bit longer because I have day release from school that day. Monday, Thursday and Friday are full school days so training is after that. On a Tuesday morning, I train in the mornings with the U18s. Outside the club I hang out with a couple of the local players who take me out because they know Liverpool better than I do. 

B/R: How much emphasis do the club put on the younger age groups with regards to social media security and usage?

YD: The Club put a lot of emphasis on this. You have to be careful what you write, because even as young players, we are representing the Club.

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