Liverpool's new wave: What comes next for Conor Bradley, Tyler Morton and the Reds' raft of talented youngsters?

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The Reds have decisions to make on a host of young players this summer, with several hoping to catch Jurgen Klopp's eye in pre-season

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool’s future has already begun. And while most anticipate a hefty, and perhaps overdue, spending spree this summer, it will also be interesting to see how the club handles its crop of extremely gifted youngsters.

The Reds have been boosted this season by the emergence of Stefan Bajcetic, the 18-year-old midfielder who made such a positive impact during the difficult days of winter. And with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, Curtis Jones, Fabio Caralho and Harvey Elliott in the first-team, all of them 24 or under, Klopp is right to be enthused by what is to come at Anfield.

Behind those players, though, a new wave of young prospects are gathering at the door. Can any of them do what Bajcetic has done, and force their way through it next season?

GOAL takes a look…

  1. Tyler Morton

    Tyler Morton

    For Bajcetic this season, read Morton last; a young midfielder coming into Liverpool’s team and playing with calmness and authority beyond his years, earning rave reviews from his manager.

    Morton played nine times for the Reds’ last term before being sent out on loan to Championship side Blackburn Rovers in a bid to gain experience and develop further.

    It’s gone pretty well, too. The 20-year-old has made 46 appearances in all competitions, and though his campaign was unfortunately ended by injury recently, he can reflect on an extremely positive season at Ewood Park, the place where Harvey Elliott flourished before returning to make his mark at Liverpool.

    It will be difficult for Morton to do what Elliott has done, but he should get a chance to show what he’s learned in pre-season, and we know that Klopp is already a fan.

  2. Conor Bradley

    Conor Bradley

    Another player to have enjoyed a fine first loan spell. Bradley has been superb for Bolton Wanderers, and swept the board at the League One side’s end-of-season awards, winning the Players’ Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Fans’ Player of the Year gongs.

    Already a full international with Northern Ireland, the 19-year-old now has more than 50 club games under his belt, and Klopp said recently that the plan was for him to be a part of Liverpool’s first-team squad next season. 

    And given Alexander-Arnold’s positional re-jig, there could be space for a young, attack-minded right-back too. Bradley has already played for Liverpool at senior level, and has done his future prospects no harm at all this season.

  3. Calvin Ramsay

    Calvin Ramsay

    Speaking of attack-minded right-backs, what a frustrating campaign it has been for Ramsay, who was bought from Aberdeen to be Alexander-Arnold’s understudy, but who has been plagued by injuries ever since.

    First it was a back issue, then he suffered knee ligament damage in training. Due to that, he has been limited to only two first-team appearances, totalling around 93 minutes.

    At 19, though, the Scot has plenty of time on his side, and the signs at Aberdeen, and even in his brief outings at Liverpool, were of a full-back with a good all-round game. Staying fit will be the key for him. A good pre-season would do him the world of good.

  4. Ben Doak
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    Ben Doak

    Another Scot desperate for an opportunity at Anfield is Doak, a precocious 17-year-old winger who has already made five substitute appearances this season.

    Signed from Celtic last summer, Doak is an old-fashioned right-winger, who loves to run at full-backs and beat them on the outside. He has been comfortably the most exciting player in Liverpool’s Under-21 and U19 sides this season, and certainly lacks nothing in terms of confidence and determination, as he displayed when making his Premier League debut off the bench against Aston Villa on Boxing Day. Ask Lucas Digne whether the kid can play.

  5. Rhys Williams
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    Rhys Williams

    It has been another difficult year for the young centre-back, whose loan spell with Championship strugglers Blackpool was cut short in January after only 17 appearances, much to his frustration, due to doubts over Nat Phillips' future.

    Williams memorably contributed to Liverpool’s first team during an injury crisis in the 2020-21 campaign, and is still well thought of by Klopp. With doubts over the future of Joel Matip, in particular, the 22-year-old could get chances to impress in pre-season, though it feels like a regular senior spot is still a long way off in truth.

  6. Sepp van den Berg

    Sepp van den Berg

    Another centre-back who has endured a tough loan spell, albeit for different reasons. Van den Berg was going well at Bundesliga side Schalke before suffering a serious ankle injury in October.

    The Dutchman was eventually sidelined for nearly seven months, but made a goalscoring return to action against Werder Bremen recently and will now look to help the Gelsenkirchen side avoid relegation.

    Still only 21, Van den Berg has already accumulated close to 100 senior appearances, putting him well ahead of the likes of Williams, Billy Koumetio and Jarell Quansah in terms of development. Whether he is of the level required to play for Liverpool remains to be seen, but he should have suitors, either on loan or for a permanent move, this summer.

  7. Kaide Gordon

    Kaide Gordon

    How quickly things can change for a young footballer. A little over 12 months ago, Gordon was the hottest prospect at Anfield. He had started a Carabao Cup semi final, become the club’s second-youngest goalscorer of all time and appeared in the Premier League aged just 17.

    Injury, though, has severely disrupted the winger’s progress. A pelvic problem has kept him out of action for more than 14 months, and as yet there is no definitive return date. Liverpool, certainly, will be careful with the teenager, but what a shame it is that he has not yet been able to build on those hugely-encouraging first steps in senior football.

  8. Marcelo Pitaluga

    Marcelo Pitaluga

    The goalkeeping situation at Liverpool this summer is an intriguing one, with third-choice Adrian set to depart on a free transfer and No.2 Caoimhin Kelleher rumoured to be looking to move in search of regular playing time.

    The Reds are likely to sign an experienced back-up, but could Pitaluga emerge as a potential squad option? The Brazilian is still only 20, and his only senior experience so far has been with Macclesfield in the eighth tier of English football, but he trains daily with Alisson Becker and Co. working alongside Brazilian legend Claudio Taffarel, and he was signed from Fluminense in 2020 as a player of considerable potential.

    He is not the only Liverpool goalkeeper hoping for a chance, either. Harvey Davies has done well at academy level, while both Kuba Ojrzynski and Vite Jaros will return from loan spells eager to prove a point.

  9. Bobby Clark

    Bobby Clark

    When Bajcetic made his Liverpool debut against Bournemouth last August, he did so alongside another teenager in Clark, an 18-year-old attacking midfielder who has shone for the club’s academy teams since joining from Newcastle in 2021.

    The son of former Newcastle and Fulham midfielder Lee, Clark is an energetic, versatile player with a superb engine and an eye for goal. He impressed in his first senior start in the Carabao Cup against Derby, and may be an ideal candidate for a summer loan move to the Football League, as he looks to build experience. Before that, though, he should get a chance to impress Klopp again in pre-season.

  10. Jarell Quansah

    Jarell Quansah

    Another young centre-back who spent a portion of the season out on loan, Quansah has enjoyed a decent spell with Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers in League One, making 17 appearances in all.

    Before that, he had been progressing rapidly with the Reds’ U21 teams, and it looks likely that the 20-year-old will now get a chance with the senior squad during pre-season. Another loan could follow, maybe to the Championship, as Quansah looks to continue his development.

  11. Luke Chambers

    Luke Chambers

    Anfield chiefs have high hopes for Chambers, a left-back/centre-back who has enjoyed a productive first loan spell in Scotland with Kilmarnock since January.

    He, along with Bajcetic and Clark, was one of the success stories of last pre-season, and has already featured on the bench for Liverpool’s first team. Still only 18, his rock-solid temperament, reliable technique and smart defensive skills mark him out as a serious prospect, one who could eventually grow into a successor for Andy Robertson if all goes to plan.

  12. Billy Koumetio
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    Billy Koumetio

    It feels like a long time ago that Klopp was speaking about ‘Billy the Kid’ as a Liverpool first teamer, doesn’t it? Koumetio made a mark during the 2020-21 season, impressing in pre-season and making his debut in the Champions League away to FC Midtjylland, but he is yet to truly kick on from there.

    Now 20, he endured a tough loan spell with Austria Vienna last season, finding opportunities hard to come by. He returned to Anfield in January and, in fairness, has impressed with the U21s since, scoring a memorable goal from inside his own half in one game.

    Another loan is on the cards this summer, and that is what he surely needs, although it is hard to say exactly where Liverpool will pitch him right now. 

  13. Oakley Cannonier

    Oakley Cannonier

    A prolific marksman at U21 and U19 level - as well as the most famous ballboy in Anfield history - Cannonier will be one of a host of players hoping for a chance with the first team in pre-season, and then looking to secure a Football League loan move.

    Like Layton Stewart, who made his debut for the senior side against Derby in November, the 18-year-old, who has suffered an injury-hit season, would surely benefit from regular exposure to mens’ football. Others in that category could include Harvey Blair, Melkamu Frauendorf, Owen Beck and James Norris.

  14. Trent Kone-Doherty
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    Trent Kone-Doherty

    There could be two Trents in Liverpool’s first team in a few years’ time. Kone-Doherty arrived at Anfield from Derry City last summer, and has enjoyed a promising first season with the U18s.

    He’s a rapid, skilful wide player who can beat players for fun, and who shone alongside Doak during the early part of the season. He has a long way to go in terms of his physical development, but there is plenty for Barry Lewtas, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and the academy coaches to work with, and it would be no surprise if we saw him training with Klopp’s senior squad in pre-season.