With the 2016-17 season at its end, it’s time to sort through the results of Jürgen Klopp’s first full campaign in charge, and today we want you to vote on Liverpool’s best young player from the 2016-17 season. Given the Reds had the third youngest squad in the Premier League last year, one might expect to be spoiled for choice.
It didn’t quite pan out that way, as despite the squad’s overall youth, in large part average age was driven down by having a lot of players in the 24-26 range and not as many veterans over the age of 30 as most other teams in the league, and only one player who was 21 or younger at the start of the year played over 1000 minutes.
Setting the cut-off age to 22 to start the 2015-16 season for Young Player of the Year voting makes things a little more interesting, but even then there are only two players with over 1000 minutes played, with Emre Can joining Divock Origi. And for most, those two relatively senior youngsters will be favourites.
Let’s take a quick look at the candidates, in alphabetical order:
Trent Alexander-Arnold (17)
The young right back played 590 minutes in all competitions, made 12 total appearances, and recorded an assist in the EFL Cup. He looks a promising player for the future and is expected to head into next season as Nathaniel Clyne’s primary backup.
Emre Can (22)
After a slow start, Can recorded 2810 minutes in all competitions and 40 total appearances with five goals and three assists. He ended the year in heady form and remains in Jürgen Klopp’s long-term plans despite being down to the final year of his contract.
Ovie Ejaria (18)
The youngster impressed early and managed 426 minutes, though only six of those came in the league in one substute appearance. He made eight first team appearances in total and would likely have had more but injury cut his season short.
Divock Origi (21)
Like Can, Origi got off to a slow start. He still managed 2081 minutes, 43 appearances, and 11 goals along with four assists when everything was said and done, an impressive return for a young striker still learning to play in a high pressing system.
Kevin Stewart (22)
The utility midfielder made nine appearances totalling 372 minutes in all competitions and though he at times was a valuable spare part, he now looks set to move on in search of regular playing time further down the table or in a lower league.
Ben Woodburn (16)
The promising attacker played 360 minutes over 9 appearances and became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer against Leeds in the EFL Cup, and many will expect him to be the club’s Young Player of the Season some year—just not this year.
On paper, Can and Origi look clear frontrunners, though a case could be made that they are too established to be considered Young Player of the Year candidates, and some might resultantly shift their votes to last season’s most involved teenager, Trent Alexander-Arnold. Whatever your choice, cast your vote below and let us know any reasoning you might care to share for it in the comments.