Results & Fixtures
Liverpool U18s 4 - Birmingham City U18s 1, Tuesday July 23rd
Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent continue to make a name for themselves, each firing against Birmingham City at Kirkby yesterday. Alex O'Hanlon displayed impressive dribbling and vision, setting up Wilson for his third goal in the first two preseason games, leveling the score after Birmingham had capitalized on a period of very weak defending to start the match. Kent showed a burst of pace and deft finishing touch to make it 2-1, before fullback Sam Hart pounced on an error to extend Liverpool's lead. The big news—already mentioned in recent comments—is that rumored signings Sergi Canós and Pedro Chirivella both debuted as subs, and in fact Canós completed the scoring in the dying moments of the game after another mistake by Birmingham's defense. At first glance Canós looks lively, and Chirivella appears to be a calm deep-lying midfielder with good vision. The U18s seem to have quite an exciting squad shaping up, and they should be fun to watch. Finally, it appears that the U18s have a new manager this season, Mike Garrity, who was formerly in charge of development of the 6 to 11 year-olds at the academy. The U18s have no upcoming matches in the next week.
Liverpool U21s 1 - Glentoran 0, Wednesday July 24th
Liverpool's Under-21 squad has traveled to Belfast for a preseason mini-tournament hosted by Glentoran, continuing the streak of pre-season games we don't have visual access to. Earlier today Liverpool played Glentoran's first team, second place finishers in last season's Irish Premier League, and is scheduled to face Danny Wilson and Heart of Midlothian on Saturday. Liverpool's starting XI included many of the names we'd expect, with the highlight being Jordan Lussey given a chance to start, as well as an unknown substitute named Rafa, maybe a trialist or a new signing who slipped under the radar. Let the speculation ensue. Without seeing the game, I don't have a lot of detail to impart, but Kristoffer Peterson put Liverpool ahead 1-0 in the first half, and many of the younger players appeared off the bench.
[UPDATE] Here is video from the U21s win over Glentoran (HT Winds).
Below are highlights from last week's U18 friendly victory over Derby County.
General News & Notes
Since joining Liverpool last summer, Brendan Rodgers has made no secret of the importance he attributes to youth development. Whether it's attending academy games regularly or bleeding in an overflowing handful of young prospects into the first team, Liverpool's manager has proven that he and the organization view the academy very much as the path to future success. A recent report from the Echo reveals the latest step towards Rodgers' long-term vision for the club: rolling the academy, currently located at Kirkby, into the first-team facilities at Melwood.
It will be expensive and the logistics will be difficult to manage, but it otherwise seems an extremely positive step, one that would allow Rodgers and the first-team coaches a great deal more exposure to the youth on a daily basis. Further, being in and around the first-team squad, with a chance to observe and hopefully absorb habits from the pros roaming around would be a tremendous opportunity for the young kids. With the aim being to have a cohesive philosophy through every rank of the organization, this would seem a logical next step, and it bears keeping an eye on any future developments.
Liverpool's fixtures in the Barclay's Under-21 Premier League have been released this week, and this year's league will be slightly different in format from last season's. There are 22 teams in the division, and each team will play every other team once (either home or away). The top four teams will advance to a semi-final playoff, and a champion will be crowned. Furthermore, each team is required to host at least three home games at their senior stadium. Liverpool have drawn difficult away games to Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal, and it will be interesting to see how the Under-21s cope with a league that each year seems to approach the structure of the Premier League.
We're unabashedly high on the 19 year-old Northern Irish right-back in these parts, and with news that he's signed a well-deserved new contract emerging late last week, it is nice to know we're not the only ones. It came as a minor surprise that McLaughlin was passed over for the current first-team tour, as it would have been—and indeed still is—reasonable to expect him to have a part to play under Rodgers this season, but with his contract signed, McLaughlin can focus on pre-season without any distractions, and hopefully contend for first-team minutes at some point during the season.
NextGen Series will be U20 this Season
We eagerly anticipate news of Liverpool's group and fixtures in this year's upcoming NextGen series, the only European competition we have this year, and until then we've been fed the small yet significant tidbit that the NextGen will be an under-20 competition this year, a departure from last year's Under-19 format.
We'll be announcing the groups soon for our 3rd season of #NextGen. Next season will be U20 with some new faces. Standby.— NextGeneration (@NextGenSeries) July 12, 2013
I look at this a bit cynically as an attempt by NextGen to raise its profile by allowing more relatively well-known players to compete. For Liverpool, who fielded a young squad and is expected to do the same again this year, the news will not drastically alter their plans; however, it will heighten the level of quality in the increasingly prestigious tournament.
Transfer News & Speculation
Well it wouldn't be an academy update without Krisztian Adorjan news. His plans seem to have been finalized at last, with Groningen announcing Adorjan's capture on a season-long loan with an option to buy, which is rumored to be in the region of €250,000. That is, if you believe the nefarious combination of twitter and Google translate. Liverpool have yet to confirm the move, unlike those of Conor Coady and Henoc Mukendi. We'll be keeping an eye on Krisztian's progress throughout the year, and with the number 7 shirt it seems he's very much in Groninegen's first team plans, but if he impresses in Holland, smart money would be on Groningen activating the disappointingly low purchase-clause. Best of luck, Krisztian.
Armin Hodzic Correction
In last week's update I alluded to unconfirmed reports that Hodzic is returning to Liverpool after consecutive loan spells in Bosnia, but after appearing for Željezničar Sarajevo in the Champion's League qualifying stages last Tuesday (yeah, that's started already), and again last night, it seems he's gone back yet again on loan. There must be some substantial difficulties in obtaining a work-permit for the 18 year-old, and he's in danger of running out of years before he ever gets his chance at Liverpool.