LIVERPOOL YOUTH ACADEMY PLAYERS
SCOUTING REPORTS ON THE BEST U18, U21 AND U23 PLAYERS FROM THE MELWOOD ACADEMY
Liverpool’s academy has produced a plethora of iconic players across the decades, from Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard to Trent Alexander-Arnold. Here are some brief profiles on the next generation coming through their Melwood academy. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses. We’ll keep this page updated.
You can find more in-depth player reports in the Scouted Football Handbook, our quarterly magazine in which we profile 25 of the world’s best up-and-coming talents, with additional original features and exclusive interviews included.
Liverpool invested a substantial £3 million fee to pick up the then-16-year-old Kaide Gordon from cash-strapped Derby County at the start of 2021; that underlines the level of talent he has in itself.
No sooner than six months after joining the club, Gordon was heavily involved in the first-team’s pre-season preparations. Those involvements lead into a senior debut in the League Cup, further underlining how highly rated he is by Jürgen Klopp and co.
STYLE OF PLAY
Gordon has quite a slight frame, no surprise given his age, but he has lots of potential to fill out into a very rounded athlete. His physique contributes to his exceptional sharpness too. With his change of tempo, straight-line speed and body control, he has the makings of a high-level attacker in terms of athleticism.
Gordon is a dribbler, shooter and creator rolled into one; he poses a versatile attacking threat off the right side, not dissimilar to Mohamed Salah. He always seeks to drive at defences, whether cutting inside or slicing to the byline, and is great at creating separation to get a shot off or fire in a cross. Gordon is also adept at releasing overlapping runners.
His dribbling style is rooted in technique too. He keeps the ball tight to his toes with quick little touches that keep defenders guessing. All in all, Gordon is one of the most exciting prospects of his 2004 year group. Except to hear a lot more about him before too long.
Billy Koumetio is quite literally a huge presence at the back. Brought over from Orléans in France, the former Olympique Lyonnais academy player has become a key fixture for Liverpool in their UEFA Youth League and Premier League 2 teams. He has also featured for the senior side, most notably during pre-season.
STYLE OF PLAY
Standing at around 6’5”, there is no doubt that the 2002-born centre-back is physically ready to play at senior level. He is a properly filled out 6’5” and he can really move too.
In possession, he is a confident passer that has no fear stepping up and playing through the lines, and looks smooth and comfortable doing it despite his size.
Naturally, he is dominant in the air (without fouling) and in duels, and he has pretty good recovery speed to cope with balls in behind.
There is a little bit of Dayot Upamecano about him. There have been some concerns with his concentration, particularly playing in the UEFA Youth League, but there is an enormous amount of raw talent as a defensive player, and some real polish to his game in possession.
Born in Manchester, James Balagizi saw his first forays into football with Manchester City before becoming a Liverpool player at under-11 level. And he has not looked back since, becoming one of the standout players for Liverpool’s academy as he has risen through the age groups; even debuting at under-18 level as a 15-year-old.
STYLE OF PLAY
Balagizi’s 6’2”, thick-set frame belies the quality he has in possession. The English midfielder is extremely light on his feet as he glides around the pitch, shifting his weight effortlessly to get past his opponents as he seeks to attack the final third.
He has a soft and delicate touch too, and he is very comfortable receiving the ball in traffic. He likes to receive the ball on the half-turn, with these scenarios then giving him the momentum to propel himself forward with the ball.
At times, he can be a bit overzealous when trying to beat his man or when attempting to slalom through a group of defenders trying to challenge him, as he runs into cul-de-sacs and loses possession.
He needs to iron out some of these on-ball inefficiencies, but his technical quality, ability to operate in traffic, and sheer size make him an intimidating midfield presence at academy level.
As the great-nephew of Ian Rush, a legend for club and country, Owen Beck has a bit of a reputation to live up to for Liverpool and Wales. It’s practically impossible for him to live up to those standards, but he’s made a solid start to his career, impressing with the under-23 team and in this season’s UEFA Youth League.
STYLE OF PLAY
Like Gordon and Koumetio, Beck has also been involved Jürgen Klopp’s side at senior level. While he has yet to be involved competitively, he featured prominently during pre-season in the absence of Andrew Robertson.
The 19-year-old is an energetic left-back that gets up and down his side effectively. His physique is a little underdeveloped at this stage, but the potential is there for him to fill out into a very sturdy size. Beck is a very active, up-tempo player in every phase of play. He plays with good tenacity which mitigates his lack of physicality, particulrly in defensive duels.
One of his better skills in possession is direct passing that accesses the forward line; Beck is adept at punching mid-range passes from wide into their. He’s also a good runner on the overlap, constantly presenting an option outside.
In future, Beck seems set for a solid career domestically and probably internationally, but he’ll need to kickstart it with a loan (or permanent move) to a lower level first.
Liverpool’s academy doesn’t produce players with the frequency of their rivals, but it does produce great local players for their first-team. Michael Owen was an exceptional talent before injuries slowed him down; Steven Gerrard became a genuine club legend; Trent Alexander-Arnold is probably the best in the world at what he does too.
Kaide Gordon is the standout of their new generation and is most likely to develop into a first-team player, albeit he was picked up for a significant fee from Derby County. James Balagizi is another interesting prospect, as are the likes of Tyler Morton and Owen Beck.