Liverpool have one game left in February and head into a potentially thrilling game with Manchester City to begin a new month on Sunday. By the middle of next week, there will only be ten league games left. The final stretch of the 2014/15 season is upon us all. Succumb to the forthcoming tension, drama, and emotion completely.
This season has been another one where young players have announced their talent with some match-winning performances. Comparing the potential of various players may not be entirely wise, for barely a season has passed for many of the new additions from the summer and the academy. Perhaps it is best to only seek opinions on personal favourites and why. Although, a discussion on which player has the highest ceiling could be one that could run for days. It will be quite tough because almost all have made admirable contributions to a season that turned a corner in December.
Players that will be excluded on grounds of age include Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, and Mamadou Sakho. They can improve in the coming years, but at 24 or 25, there's a maturity, consistency, and responsibility that's rightfully expected. With the following talented bunch, struggling for a number of reasons is part of the pact a club makes when turning to young talent. As Brendan Rodgers places a lot of trust in talent irrespective of age, some of these players are virtually indispensable to the Premier League's best outfit of 2015 to date.
The chosen ones are in order of age: Philippe Coutinho (22), Alberto Moreno (22), Emre Can (21), Lazar Marković (20), Raheem Sterling (20), and Jordon Ibe (19). Which one will you choose? Maybe the following will help you make what looks to be a difficult decision ...
Philppe Coutinho is the stuff dreams are made from. Check the label next time you go to sleep. His technique, dribbling ability, intelligence, vision, and work in tight spaces is pure and unfettered joy. Regularly cited as one of the best transfers in Liverpool history in terms of value, the Brazilian should be regarded as one of the world's best playmakers if he continues on his current trajectory. Liverpool have a player who should be central to one of Europe's best teams in the future, and that very well could be his current club with all the talent around him. If he improves his shooting, he could have a monstrous season and become central to Dunga's plans for the Seleção. A match-winner and an artist.
Alberto Moreno was one of the longer transfer chases in recent memory, but Liverpool managed to snare the Spanish international from UEFA Europa League holders Sevilla for £12 million. He announced his attacking prowess with an inspired goal against Tottenham Hotspur in August that displayed speed, directness, and accuracy in finishing. What a goal it was. He has provided wonderful balance on the left side of a successful 3421 formation but seems to relish competing at all times. It should not be underestimated how important a character like Moreno is in the squad. Like Pepe Reina, Xabi Alonso, and Fernando Torres before him, Moreno has taken to life in Merseyside playing for Liverpool. He could be regarded as one of Europe's premier left backs in the next few years, and expect a few more amazing goals from a player who can be counted on in the toughest of times on the field.
Is this it? Is this the new powerful titan of Liverpool's midfield? Currently part of the Premier League's in-form defensive unit, Emre Can has announced himself as a player of considerable ability and potential. Rival fans have commented on the quality the player possesses while Liverpool fans have developed an obsession with his physique, hair, and visage. Power, strength, intelligence, passing range, composure, versatility, and sheer presence. His calm is uncanny for a player so young. When he scored against Chelsea in the early November league defeat at Anfield, many thought that Can had finally taken his chance to feature regularly for Liverpool. His performance in midfield was impressive in a game of such importance, and underlined his temperament for big occasions. He had to wait until Boxing Day to claim a place in the team, but it was in defence. From that game, he has been indomitable and essential. Wherever he ends up, he should be one of the dominant forces in the game for at least a decade.
The speedy player with the scampering, mazy dribbling style with silk in his boots. Lazar Marković has all the signs of a superstar but must find consistency. A couple of impressive cameos were followed by some struggles as he adapted to the league and a new country. However, he has shown a versatility that is highly valued by Brendan Rodgers in playing on the right of a 3421. Although his form has been less successful on the left, he has shown admirable contributions to the defensive side of his game and will be a better player for it. This season has been a good introduction for Marković and the combination of dribbling, clever passes, acceleration, and superb attacking movement is tantalising. He showed against Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur that he can score crucial goals, and can be as good as he wants to be.
Raheem Sterling continues to excel in attack in whatever role he's asked to do. When he won the Golden Boy award it wasn't a surprise. Liverpool hold the player registration of one of Europe's best attacking young talents who has shown a reliable ability to understand the game in new positions. Like Coutinho, Sterling can operate well in tight spaces with confidence. His goal record in the Premier League is surprisingly good for a player who can still improve on his finishing and reveals a productivity that wins matches for teams. Sterling has been a fixture in the Liverpool first team squad for close to three seasons and has picked up tips from Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge. The goal he scored against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final displayed the hallmark of great attacking players who pick the ball up, terrorise opposition defenders, and score. They create breakthroughs. His work defensively, intelligence in the press, sharp movement, dribbling skills, and sensible passing make him a delight to watch. Has there been a better Liverpool player this season?
The latest and youngest addition to this set may not have played many games for Liverpool after returning from his loan at Derby County but has shown heights comparable to the rest in such a short space of time. Jordon Ibe is a fearsome prospect for any player confronting him with an idea of trying to stop him somehow, and that's why opposition managers frequently turn to doubling up on him. A 19-year-old who was learning in the Championship only a couple of months ago is now a player who is targeted as a key threat by Premier League managers and players. From his first Liverpool start of the season against Everton in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, Ibe has been one of Liverpool's best players on the pitch. Power in physique, power in his speed, and power in his shot. However, power alone isn't enough. His general awareness, willingness to learn, involvement in the game, passing, and defensive diligence have improved notably from his time in England's second tier. Ibe has become a frequent outlet on the right for Liverpool and provides yet another success story from the academy. Jordon Ibe is here to stay.