Liverpool teen Gordon hoping to follow Adeyemi and Gravenberch down UEFA Youth League path to stardom

Written By Neil Jones
Karim Adeyemi Kaide Gordon Ryan Gravenberch
Goal/Getty

It’s not all about Anfield, as Liverpool get their European campaign up and running on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp’s senior Reds side begins its quest for Champions League glory against AC Milan; it will be a historic, noisy, colourful occasion.

Before that, though, it is the youngsters’ turn. Six miles away at Kirkby, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson will lead the club’s Under-19 team as they return to action in the UEFA Youth League.

It is a competition which has proved more than useful for Liverpool in recent seasons. The likes of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams and Rhys Williams, for example, were all blooded there before progressing to the first team.

This year’s crop is similarly gifted, with a number of Lewtas’ squad having spent some or all of pre-season with Klopp’s senior group in Austria and France. 

Plenty left a good impression, and none more so than Kaide Gordon, the 16-year-old who has lit the place up since arriving from Derby County back in January.

The Reds could end up paying £3 million ($4.1m) for Gordon, but the early evidence is that it would be a bargain. The lithe, left-footed wide-man looks every inch a star of the future, and could well get his senior Liverpool debut in next week’s Carabao Cup tie at Norwich.

He’s already played professionally, given his bow by Wayne Rooney, no less, as a substitute for Derby against Birmingham last December. 

And he’s already played – and scored – at Anfield, impressing in a pre-season friendly against Osasuna in front of nearly 40,000, before netting in a behind-closed-doors game against Aston Villa the following week. 

Getty/Goal

The likes of Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez all played that day, and all were said to have been struck by the teenager’s confidence, ability and maturity.

“A proper player,” is how one Reds source described Gordon during the summer.

He doesn’t turn 17 until October 5, but he has already pretty much by-passed Liverpool’s U18 side. He made his debut for Lewtas’ U23s at Leicester back in May, scoring as a second-half substitute, and has started this season with the older age-group too. 

“I just try and stay away from him in training,” laughed captain Tom Clayton after the 23s had beaten Everton last month. Gordon scored the Reds’ opener that day, terrorising his opponents with speed, trickery and, most pleasing of all, an awareness which goes way beyond his tender years.

He’s the one of the watch for Liverpool in the UEFA Youth League, though Lewtas will be able to call upon a number of other promising prospects.

Centre-back Billy Koumetio, for example, has already played in the Champions League proper, appearing away at FC Midtjylland last December. The 18-year-old Frenchman is strong, excellent in the air and a good passer of the ball off his left foot. Anfield sources see first-team potential there.

Attacking midfielders James Balagizi and Mateusz Musialowski, meanwhile, were key players as the U18s reached the final of the FA Youth Cup last season, losing narrowly to a superb Aston Villa team. 

Balagizi joined the Reds from Manchester City as an U11s player, and possesses an intriguing mix of power and guile, while Musialowski was one of the stars of the academy last season after arriving from LKS Lodz. Compared tentatively to Eden Hazard, the Polish youth international, is a crowd-pleaser with his dribbling and one-twos.

Getty/Goal

Others play a more orthodox game. Home-grown midfielder Tyler Morton, who has been with the club since the age of seven, is one to keep an eye on with his passing range, energy and eye for a goal, while full-backs Conor Bradley and Owen Beck have both made their mark with Klopp. 

Bradley is already capped by Northern Ireland at senior level, while Beck, as the nephew of club legend Ian Rush, will have plenty willing him to succeed at Anfield. Good players, both of them.

It is good to see the Youth League back, after the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation last season. Liverpool are yet to make it past the quarter-final stage, but the competition is seen as a valuable one, in terms of readying young players for the rigours and the challenges of senior football.

It also represents a chance for supporters to catch a glimpse of the next big thing.

Liverpool fans may have first become aware of someone like Jones, for example, during the 2018-19 competition, but they may also have spotted the likes of Karim Adeyemi and Luka Sucic (Salzburg), Adil Aouchiche (Paris Saint-Germain), Tahith Chong and Brandon Williams (Manchester United) and Goncalo Ramos (Benfica) playing against their side in recent years.

Others, such as Moussa Diaby (PSG), Ryan Gravenberch, Sven Botman and Sergino Dest (Ajax), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV Eindhoven), Joshua Zirkzee (Bayern Munich) and Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht) have all furthered their reputations in the competition. All are now thriving at first-team level, some at senior international level.

Could Gordon follow in those footsteps? He certainly has the talent, and with Atletico Madrid and Porto joining Milan in Liverpool's group this season, the Youth League could offer the perfect stage on which to show it off.

Latest News

Cristiano Ronaldo - Manchester United - celebration - September 11, 2021
Manchester United match schedule: Is Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Man United?
Manchester United schedule: Is Ronaldo playing?
English Premier League logo - 2020
Premier League betting: Matchday 6 updated picks, odds, lines, overs & unders
Premier League betting & updated odds
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United
Solskjaer: Man Utd star Ronaldo can play into his 40s
Solskjaer: Ronaldo can play into his 40s
Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2021-22
Klopp: Quarantine rules are 'problem' for Liverpool as Brazil stars prepare for qualifiers
Klopp: Quarantine rules are 'problem' for Liverpool
Edouard Mendy Man City vs Chelsea Champions League final 2020-21
Chelsea manager Tuchel confirms Mendy availability for Manchester City clash
Tuchel confirms Mendy availability for Man City clash