Jürgen Klopp is determined to see 17-year-old Ben Woodburn get first team chances in the coming season despite attempts to build a deeper and stronger squad, and to do that, the manager has taken to playing the young attacker in central midfield during pre-season.
It's a move that caught many fans by surprise when, against Tranmere, Woodburn lined up in the eight. After three games, though, it's clear Klopp sees potential for the promising youngster in the position, and that could help him to get on the pitch in the coming season.
"He's too young to fix him to any one position and we want to have him in and around the team," Klopp noted following today's match against Crystal Palace. "Ben has played there a few times before and is a very smart player so we'll see what happens as he grows."
Though the experiment met with questionable success in that first match, with Woodburn in the eight and Gini Wijnaldum taking on the deepest midfield role behind him, against Palace with captain Jordan Henderson anchoring midfield things went much more smoothly.
Woodburn didn't look out of place against Premier League opposition, taking on the kind of role many expect Philippe Coutinho will iagainst more defensive opposition. And, as with Coutinho, the expectation would likely be that against stronger sides Woodburn would move wide.
It will also help to keep Woodburn in the first team picture, even with the arrival of Mohamed Salah and the club still chasing Naby Keïta despite RB Leipzig's rejection of their £66M offer—and it could obviate any need to sign an attacking utility player like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"Bringing him into the middle of the park will help him to learn the highest level of football under pressure," Klopp added. "It's exciting. I have no idea what his best position is. I'm just happy to have him around."