Liverpool Academy Update: August 8th Edition

Our Under-21s faced this madman yesterday - Claudio Villa

Your weekly Liverpool youth news & notes and discussion thread, including the U21s with something of an oddball finale to their preseason, a new trialist in our midst, and the younger squads finishing up the Milk Cup, in what was otherwise a quiet news week for the youth ranks.

Results & Fixtures

Liverpool U21s 0 - Real Sociedad B 0, Saturday August 3rd

The Under-21s continued their preseason preparations with a friendly against Real Sociedad B in Spain over the weekend. Coverage of the U21 preseason has been extremely minimal, so all I can report is that Liverpool faced a squad of 20-22 year old players and played them well. By all accounts it was really good contest, and it's encouraging to see Liverpool's young Under-21 side (full of 17 and 18 year olds) coping nicely. Notable team selection news is that Jordan Rossiter, one of the standout performers thus far at just 16, was handed another start in the center of midfield, Ryan McLaughlin got a run-out at right forward with John Flanagan returning to the side, which is likely just an experiment but one that is worth keeping an eye on, and there was a new trialist, Fernando Quesada, playing left forward for Alex Inglethorpe's side, but no sign of last week's trialist Rafa. What we know so far about Quesada is that his contract was allowed to run down by Barcelona and he had a trial earlier this summer with Stoke, and is apparently trying to stick with Liverpool now.

Liverpool U21s 1 - Bologna 3, Tuesday August 6th

Meanwhile, Serie A side Bologna paid a visit to the academy on Tuesday for the U21s last preseason match. Ho hum, so far. What is not so normal is that the match was only arranged about three days ago when Bologna's regularly scheduled friendly against Stoke was suddenly cancelled. And even more strange is that, due to what is likely a continuation of the mixup leading to the match's scheduling in the first place, it was Bologna Bologna, not Bologna Under-21s making the trip over to England for the match, speaking of coping nicely against grown men. The side included full internationals Alessandro Diamanti and Saphir Taïder, among others, so understandably the U21s were up against it, but acquitted themselves well, which I consider to be quite impressive. Two goals by Diamanti and a third by Rene Krhin overshadowed a slick goal by Kristoffer Peterson, which capped an impressive preseason for him. Early signs are promising that his main weakness we mentioned in our U18s player profiles, his end product, has improved significantly since last year, and he's establishing himself as a key player for the U21s who open their Barclays U21 Premier League season on Monday at home against Southampton. The game will be broadcast live on LFC.tv, and if there's enough interest, we'll run a match thread.

The Northen Ireland Milk Cup

Just after press time last week the Under-17s beat Newcastle 4-2 (video highlights here) behind another two goals from Harry Wilson, and one apiece for Dan Cleary and Ryan Kent. The side missed out on the overall semi-finals on goal difference, and had to settle for a chance to compete for the Globe, the second tier championship for the age group. In the semi finals of the Globe, a hard fought 1-1 draw (Wilson's penalty) led to a penalty shootout against Corinthians where goalkeeper Andy Firth made a couple saves to carry Liverpool to the finals. Liverpool again faced Newcastle in the Globe finals, and again won by two goals, this time 2-0 on the back of a Kent brace. We're beginning to see a clear picture emerge of the major players for this season's U18s, and Ryan Kent, Wilson, Pedro Chirivella, and Sergi Canos will be right in the mix. The official site compiled a nice video summary of the U17 experience in Ireland.

The U15s had a great deal of momentum leading up to the semi-finals of their age group, and, after Everton U15s won in their semi-final bout, we certainly had hopes of seeing a mini Derby cup final. Unfortunately the U15s slipped against County Antrim, one of several local county squads compiled for the tournament, losing 2-1. Conor Masterson scored Liverpool's only goal and is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. Apparently, and totally to my surprise, Liverpool paid £1M to pry him from school in Dublin at age 13 last year and he's played all over the pitch in his admittedly young career. Playing center back for Liverpool at the Milk Cup he's scored two cracking goals already. The U15s concluded their Milk Cup run in the 3rd place game against Watford and lost 6-2. Overall it was a very positive showing from the young lads. I personally have never paid this much attention to the Milk Cup but it's a tremendous tournament, and I hope to see Liverpool competing there regularly each year.

Barring any more unannounced fixtures, the U18s wrap up their preseason on Saturday away to Leicester ahead of their first Barclays U18 Premier League next Friday, the 16th, at Arsenal.

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