In some unexpected transfer news over Christmas and New Year, the Reds confirmed a couple of academy acquisitions which u23s manager Barry Lewtas will fully appreciate.
With defensive graduates Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips all currently firmly in the first-team picture, the academy has been short on options at the back. However, reinforcements have now arrived to help fill the gaps.
First came the signing of 15-year-old Birmingham City starlet Calum Scanlon, for a fee believed to be around £500,000. Scanlon is a versatile option who is comfortable at both left-back and as the holding player in midfield.
The England u15 international is the most recent player to leave Birmingham City for a high-profile club, after the Midlands side saw 17-year-old Jude Bellingham depart for £20m to German giants Borussia Dortmund in the 2020 summer window.
Joining the impressive Scanlon on Merseyside, is 16-year-old centre-back Stefan Bajcetic, who has moved to Merseyside from La Liga outfit Celta Vigo.
Liverpool faced a challenge to bring in the sought-after youngster due to the new rules for registering young foreign players after Brexit, whilst interest from Manchester United will have also forced the club to act quickly and decisively. Luckily the deal was processed in time to beat both the Red Devils and the red tape.
Bajcetic had been in the Celta youth setup for the last three years, working his way up through the ranks as the seasons rolled by. The young defender cost Liverpool a modest £225,000 for his services, with top academy figures Alex Inglethorpe and Barry Lewtas reportedly heavily involved in bringing him in.
The first-team exploits of the likes of Rhys and Neco Williams, as well as Curtis Jones, will have shown the pair that there is a route for academy talent into the first team. With the current defensive crisis at Anfield, Klopp has trusted his academy to provide adequate cover, whilst Jones has played a major role in midfield since the return from the first lockdown.
Inglethorpe and Lewtas will feel they have two more top quality prospects in the academy now, even though they will not be in the first-team picture straight away. With Klopp clearly trusting the academy process, though, it’s not unreasonable to suggest we may see a greater number of youngsters stepping up in the future.
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