For the first time in what seems like forever, Liverpool are in a luxurious position when it comes to the squad at their disposal.
It is a group full of winners, full of players striving towards one collective goal and one that is full of incredible talent in every area of the pitch. It is a squad fit for the Premier League title and for the champions tag placed upon it after a season of non-stop ruthlessness.
Now, that ruthlessness must continue in the last set of games. Instead of stopping to admire their achievement, the title winners must improve and prepare themselves for the future, whether that be via the promotion of youth talents or incoming transfers.
The last set of games on Liverpool’s title tour provide fringe players and academy prospects with the chance to cement a place in the squad for next season, especially for the likes of Ki-Jana Hoever.
With Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren currently out injured, there couldn’t be a better time to give the young Dutchman a chance to stake his claim as Liverpool’s fourth-choice central defender.
The Dutchman has shown glimpses of his ability this season in the FA Cup and League Cup. He played a key part in keeping a clean sheet against Shrewsbury Town in a 1-0 victory alongside his fellow academy graduates. The performance from start to finish highlighted Hoever’s clear ability, maturity and potential to become a top defender under Jürgen Klopp.
With just two first-team centre-backs to choose from, Klopp may have no choice but to hand Hoever his first Premier League start – especially when considering Liverpool’s congested fixture list.
The Reds will play three games in the space of six days with fixtures against Brighton and Burnley to come after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa. With all this coming after a four-month break the manager may be forced to make adjustments – giving the likes of Hoever a chance in the process – to avoid any fitness concerns to those heavily involved in much of the season.
Injuries to players usually spark concern among fans, but under Klopp it has always been a case of one man’s loss being another’s gain. When Alberto Moreno suffered an untimely injury, Andy Robertson stepped up and secured a long-term place in the side.Embed from Getty Images
When Matip suffered his first injury blow this season, Joe Gomez stepped up to re-establish his place in the side. Now, with both Matip and Lovren on the treatment table, the same chance presents itself to 18-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever to secure a permanent place in the Liverpool squad.
Plus, with Dejan Lovren possibly on the move this summer, the fourth-choice centre-back spot may soon be vacant anyway. With Hoever currently most qualified to automatically fill that slot, blooding him in inconsequential games at the tail end of this campaign will be of great benefit heading into the next.
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