I'm still struggling to not classify anyone 22 years old and younger as a youth player--I know if they've featured at the senior level for club and country they should be established and confident and all-knowing, but I just can't shake the notion that someone whose frontal lobes aren't done developing should be treated like a ten-year veteran. High expectations might be fair, but I don't know that I'll ever come around to the perspective that if they're not doing it at 22 or 23, they're a write-off.
That's a biased opinion, of course, and it's mostly informed by the sheer number of promising young players that Liverpool have on their books. Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen Jonjo Shelvey, and Fabio Borini are established first-teamers aged 22 or younger, and the newly-signed Philippe Coutinho, who's just twenty, will likely slot straight in as well. Jack Robinson and Sebastian Coates see first-team action in cup competition, and before his injury, Martin Kelly was featuring regularly in league and cups. We've seen a handful of players even younger in the senior squad as well, with Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom frequently in the eleven or close to it, and Suso playing earlier in the season when squad depth was at one of its lowest points. Samed Yesil also served as cover in a few matches, but he was rightfully sent to the reserves in a move that better matched discussion upon signing about being ready in "two to three" years.
We also saw Jerome Sinclair in something of a showpiece appearance in the League Cup win over West Brom back in September, as he came off a bench that also included Sterling, Suso, Conor Coady, Stephen Sama, and Peter Gulacsi. Today's news that Marc Pelosi, Jordon Ibe, and Krisztian Adorjan are included in the Europa League squad--even if they never come close to actual time against Zenit or anyone else--comes as a result of the terrific work they've done at the club's lower levels.
And without getting too hyperbolic, it seems as though that's just skimming the surface. Each of the aforementioned names have been at or near the forefront of Liverpool's successes at the youth level, but there's just as many others responsible for running the U21s to fourteen matches unbeaten in the Premier League and into the knockout stages of the NextGen Series after a dismal start.
Those names are completely unknown, though--Ryan McLaughlin, Brad Smith, Jordan Lussey, Craig Roddan, Jack Dunn, Jordan Rossiter, Jakub Sokolik, Daniel Trickett-Smith, and Tyrell Belford have all excelled throughout the youth setup this season, and Joao Carlos Teixeira (who looks to nearing full fitness after arriving with a back injury last season) trained with the first team today and has looked similarly impressive for the U21s. This also leaves out Michael Ngoo and Adam Morgan, both of whom headed out on loan during the January window, with the latter proving a constant threat for Hearts in scoring twice already and the latter about to wrap up his short spell with Rotherham.
It's a staggering list of players that have showed either glimpses or a consistent run of promising form, and while all the usual caveats apply about too much pressure and expectation and etc., we're curious to know who you see panning out . Of the names mentioned--excluding Coutinho, Henderson, Borini, et al.--who's got the best shot to have a consistent impact at the senior level? Where do you see them fitting? Who's destined to fade away or flourish elsewhere?