In considering this season — the one in which the team will be lifting their first league title in thirty years — it is easy to forget just how little action Liverpool saw in the transfer market last summer. In a year where their rivals uniformly spent well into the hundreds of millions, the Champions League winners spent just under €2m on young centre-back Sepp van den Berg, with a tribunal fee for Fulham youngster Harvey Elliott yet to be decided.
Naturally, squad improvement is required every year if a team is to progress, and so, in lieu of big transfer moves, Jürgen Klopp placed expectations on the youth players already at the club to make the step up and contribute in a meaningful way.
There can be little doubt that the strategy was a success. Competing in five competitions on two continents, and in a total of fifty games before the end of March, the Reds manager has had to use every last bit of his squad, and over 4000 minutes have been produced by players from the youth teams. Over a dozen senior debuts have been handed out, and the young Reds with the ridiculous squad numbers even went on a little bit of a cup run, defeating both League One and Premier League opposition in the domestic cups.
Perhaps the most prominent arrival from the academy this season has been Curtis Jones, and the 19-year old has no doubts he’s in the right place.
“I think it’s perfect for me,” the young Scouser said of working with Klopp and his coaching staff. “I don’t think I’d be as successful under a different type of manager and a different team.
“With his staff, I think for me to be the player that I want to become and I see myself becoming, I think Jürgen, Pep, Pete and the rest of the staff are the perfect ones for me in terms of the belief they have in me, in terms of their philosophy, how they play and even their aims and their goals.
“They want to win so much to make the fans and the people of Liverpool so happy. For me it’s also the same because I come from that, so I understand, so for me it’s absolutely perfect.”
He’s a confident one, young Jones, the sort of confident that compels you to take a whack from 20-odd yards in your first ever Merseyside derby, but he’s under no illusions about how many steps are left to make, what kind of work goes into making them and who to learn from.
“I’ve always said that [James] Milner has been a massive one for me,” Jones continued. “I first went on the pre-season tour when I was 17 and he was always one that I guess he knew the ability that I had, but other things needed work in terms of the defensive part of my game, positioning and how to react when giving away the ball. He’s always guided me in the right path so I’m grateful for that.
“Another one that’s big for me is Trent [Alexander-Arnold]. He’s basically similar to me in he is a local lad, he comes from a normal background and he’s had to work hard to get into the position that he’s in now.
“We are from the same city and we have the same type of goal in terms of we want to play for this club and we want to achieve stuff to give back to the fans, so Trent is also a big one for me.”
Whenever the club is allowed to return to action from its current enforced torpor, there is every indication that there’s going be a bright red future ahead.