Rhian Brewster’s quick-fire double — which earned Liverpool a 2-2 draw at Salzburg’s Red Bull Arena on Tuesday afternoon — made it three goals in two pre-season games for the 20-year-old, who spent the second-half of last season on-loan at Swansea City.
After Patson Daka’s early efforts put the Austrian champions 2-0 ahead inside 13 minutes, Brewster wasn’t little time following his 63rd minute introduction by adding to his close-range strike against Stuttgart on Saturday.
The teenager halved the deficit in the 72nd minute when he controlled James Milner’s pull-back 12-yards out and, before the covering Patrick Farkas could get a block in, sharply sidefooted the ball into the roof of the net
His 81st minute leveller was the real eye catcher. Curtis Jones diverted goalkeeper Alexander Walke’s attempted clearance towards him and the England Under-21 international unerringly guided a 25-yard right-footed volley into the top-left corner.
Cool, calm and hugely impressive finishing has long been Brewster’s trademark — even if his Liverpool prowess has been reserved to pre-season appearances so far.
In his post-match interview with LFCTV, Jürgen Klopp spoke glowingly of the No.24:
“Rhian is a young boy and he knows that he can learn a lot of things, but he is a natural goalscorer. That’s what he is. He has to be more involved in the game when he is on the pitch but I have to say, in the decisive moments, he is 100 per cent there and I like that a lot and he is a wonderful kid.”
The German boss is clearly in no doubt as to what the youngster — who was signed from Chelsea in 2015 — can offer. But in typical Klopp fashion, there is a firm eye on expanding those attributes, with Brewster evidently a willing learner.
Speaking to the club’s in-house channel after his brace, Brewster explained:
“For me, it’s not about the goals at the moment, it’s about working hard and running for the team and that’s all I’m trying to do at the moment.”
That, in itself, is encouraging. There appears to be a clear understanding between manager and player of the areas in which he is strong and those that have particular room for progression in order for Brewster to maximise his value within the kind of collective effort Klopp requires.
The No.24 has already shown that he can lead the line for a winning team at a certain level. In October 2017, he scored eight goals to earn the Golden Boot and help England to victory at the Under-17 World Cup in India.
Flickers of his progress in the time since — either side of an ankle and knee ligament injury which kept him out for most of 2018 and early 2019 — are already on show.
Unsurprisingly, he now represents a greater physical presence — and, given his age, may yet have more growing and filling-out to do. His experiences at Swansea in the second — extended — half of 2019/20 also look to have stood him in good stead.
After arriving at the Liberty Stadium in January, Brewster found the net 11 times in 22 appearances as he helped Steve Cooper’s men to the Championship Playoff semi-finals.
Sharp finishes — like the two that earned the Reds the draw in Austria — were crucial to the Swans’ ultimately successful pursuit of an elusive play-off place.
His left-footed volleyed lob over Brentford goalkeeper David Raya in the playoff semi-final second-leg at Griffin Park — which proved the last of his loan spell — may have been in vain, as the South Wales side exited 3-2 on aggregate, but it was uncannily similar to his Salzburg equaliser.
It is likely no coincidence that Cooper — as well as being a former Liverpool youth coach — was the manager of the England Under-17 side that became world champions almost three years ago.
He likely represented an ideal figure to introduce Brewster to the higher stakes and intensity of senior football.
Of his experience in south Wales, the teenager remarked: “Yeah I think it’s helped me quite a lot,” Brewster said to LFCTV of his experiences with the Swans. “Playing a lot of games and also men’s football – because it’s a fight – and playing in the Champ(ionship), you always have to fight for every single result and yeah I think it’s helped me in that regard, you know, to fight for everything and also, like I said, to score obviously there as well was good.”
The striker recognised the differences at first-team level and proved he could deal with them.
There are reportedly plenty of loan offers on the table from both Premier League and Championship clubs who are keen to acquire Brewster’s services for at least part of 2020/21.
Whether Rhian takes that route this term or is given the chance to add to the three competitive Liverpool first-team appearances he made last season, he looks increasingly primed to make a notable impact at a high-level.