When Bobby Duncan joined Liverpool’s academy back in 2018, it was thought that the Reds had a real gem on their hands. What could go wrong for Steven Gerrard’s cousin, who had joined the Reds academy from Manchester City on a free transfer?
As it turns out, plenty.
He started his time at the club extremely well, forming a lethal strike partnership with Paul Glatzel in his first season as the pair picked up 29 league goals in the 2018/19 campaign. That season was a productive one for the duo, as they fired the young Reds to a FA Youth Cup victory.
Duncan went on to appear for the u19 side in that same prolific campaign, bagging two goals in seven games at that level. Duncan was in fact so prolific in the youth teams that he found himself in the u21 side at the start of the 2019/20 season at just 18 years old, a show of real belief from the club in the youngster that he could become the next big thing.Embed from Getty Images
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the youngster. His record in the youth leagues was so good, and rise so swift, that it clearly went to his head. With influence from his agent, he demanded first-team opportunities at Anfield.
At the time, Duncan was realistically fourth or fifth-choice striker, behind Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi, Rhian Brewster and possibly some other youth prospects like Liam Millar.
The demand turned to desperation, with Duncan’s agent releasing a statement claiming his client had “suffered from deep mental health issues and stress” from what the club put him through. Agent Saif Rubie was later fined and suspended for his actions.
This materialised in the shape of Italian outfit Fiorentina, as the Serie A side paid an initial fee of £1.8 million for his services. This signalled the end of Duncan’s association with the Reds and saw his career take a turn for the worse.
Life in Italy didn’t bode well for the England youth international. He didn’t manage to make a single appearance for the senior team – something that his move to the continent was meant to be based around.Embed from Getty Images
After an unsuccessful a year in Italy, Duncan was on the move again, this time back to England with Championship outfit Derby County. Joining the club as a youth player, he was under the guidance of academy director Darren Wassall.
Upon Duncan’s signing with the club, Wassall said: “Like with any other player in our academy set-up, if they perform both in training and in matches then there is a pathway at this club to progress to the first team.”
Duncan has played just twice for Derby’s u23 side this season, failing to score on both appearances.
Despite his poor form, club officials are happy with him for now. Interim manager Wayne Rooney said: “Bobby trained with us a couple of weeks ago for a few days and he did well in training.”
With Derby struggling in the Championship and Rooney now directly involved in all first team decisions, this could give the opportunity to the former Liverpool player to finally make an impact on a first team environment.
It is clear life hasn’t gone to plan for Duncan since leaving Anfield, but he has proven he is capable of being a good player, even if just at youth level so far. If the striker can rediscover the form he showed on Merseyside, then he could easily find himself leaving Rooney no choice but to make him his starting No.9.
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