Ah preseason. It’s the time of year of eternal optimism (or pessimism if you like tweeting “sign someone” at the various Liverpool FC accounts). It’s also an opportunity for fans to see some of the young players who could be close to making the jump to the senior team, leading us to salivate over untapped potential and “what could be” if the player does come good. Over the past several seasons we’ve seen the likes of Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, and Billy Koumetio make their presence known. Some have made the next step with Liverpool, while others are still working their way through the Academy, or in Brewster’s case, have been moved on.
This year, the young standout has been 16 year old Kaide Gordon. The attacking player was brought in last winter from Derby County for the considerable sum of £3 million. He scored six goals in four games for the U18 squad before being promoted to the U23s at the tail end of the season. Liverpool’s U23 coach Barry Lewtas was very succinct in his analysis of the player after featuring against Leicester City, simply stating: “The boy can play”.
According to Neil Jones from Goal.com, a source at Anfield has also described Gordon as “a proper player”, and has made an impression on Jürgen Klopp after solid displays against FC Wacker Innsbruck, Mainz 05, and Hertha Berlin.
Darren Wassall, Derby City’s academy director, is not surprised to see Gordon thrive at Liverpool despite his young age.
“Kaide is a special talent, and it’s great to see that he’s already doing well and making an impression,” said Wassell. “Everyone here is buzzing for him.”
“He certainly won’t be in awe. Because of his ability, he has that confidence that he feels he should be mixing with the best. He’s not shy or nervous, he embraces that challenge.”
Wassell continued to give a nice scouting report and the person and the player that Gordon is.
“In terms of an attacking force, he’s got everything really,” said Wassall. “He’s got great balance, awareness, touch. Left footers always seem to be blessed with a wand, and he’s certainly got that! He’s very quiet off the pitch, but on it he comes alive. He just loves playing football, and when you see him play, it looks easy. You can’t coach some of the things he has. He has such a good footballing brain, and his decision-making is very good. There are a lot of players who have great technique or great pace, but they don’t know when to pass it, when to dribble, when to play one-touch. Kaide does. He keeps the game simple, while knowing he has everything in his locker. He can do anything with a football, but he makes the right decision more often than not, which is what the best players do.”
While it is fantastic to see Kaide Gordon get senior team minutes now, it’s also a time to temper expectations in the near-term at least. Gordon seems likely to follow a similar path to Harvey Elliott before him, spending a full season with the U23s before being assessed to see if a loan deal for senior team minutes is in the cards. For now, let’s just enjoy seeing a young man take the next steps in what we can hope is an illustrious career.