Liverpool’s young attacking midfielder James Balagizi has signed his first professional deal with the club after turning 17.
Balagizi is one of many highly-rated youth players at Anfield so it’s no surprise Jürgen Klopp wasted no time in handing him his first professional deal.
The 17-year-old playmaker joined Liverpool from Manchester City at u11 level. He made his debut for the Reds u18 side aged just 15 last season and made an impact straight away, scoring twice against Blackburn Rovers.
The midfielder, who can play further up the pitch, has also made his debut for the u21 side, coming off the bench against Wigan Athletic in the EFL Trophy earlier in the week.
Balagizi impressed for the u18 side in the league, scoring four and assisting one in only 627 minutes last season meaning the young Reds averaged 2.44 points per game with Balagizi in the team.
The young playmaker has played several times for the England u16 side and has even played alongside highly-rated Borussia Dortmund youngster Jude Bellingham, who made his big-money move to the Bundesliga after a superb breakthrough season with Birmingham City.Embed from Getty Images
Balagizi came into the country aged just six and was prized away from Manchester City at 11, showing he’s had talent from the start. Why else would the Reds go out of their way to poach a young boys from one of their rivals’ academies?
In an interview, The Athletic’s Simon Hughes highlighted the midfielder as “the next one according to those who know in the Liverpool academy”.
One of the notable things about Balagizi is his stature. Despite being just 17 his stature is impressive – he is already built like a pro. He is both tall and strong with enough muscle to be hard to get off the ball.
But it was his technical ability that shone brightest, with stylistic comparisons to breakthrough star Curtis Jones appearing.
Balagizi’s contract isn’t a guarantee of a long-term future at the club – he still has a lot to prove. But it is instead a show of belief will develop his game and one day become a first team player at Anfield.
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