Still just 18, it's hard to believe that Jordon Ibe is on his third full preseason tour with Liverpool and three years out from his professional debut with Wycombe Wanderers. Since arriving, he's provided regular glimpses of his promise in the academy and, while in a far smaller sample size, the first-team, and he's been one of the most impressive performers over the past few weeks as Liverpool's preseason gets in full swing.
Far from the finished article, Ibe has relied mostly on pace, and the biggest knocks against him thus far is that he's not yet added composure in front of goal nor the type of adaptability and positional intelligence that saw Raheem Sterling flourish last season. This comes as no surprise to Ibe, however, as he's looking forward to developing in both areas:
"I'm working on my finishing, trying to get goals. I've got a few assists but goals are the thing I really want to work on in this pre-season. I am working hard pressing-wise and trying to get into players' faces, knowing when and when not to do things - decision making. I'm learning from all the other players here and hopefully I can do well in pre-season. I'm looking forward to the whole pre-season, trying to do well, help the team win and obviously get better and fitter.
"I'm enjoying everything and all of the places we're going to. It's going really well - I'm enjoying the training. It's tough out here but it's all good for us. I'm doing well fitness-wise. I did some work and training before the season started. All of the lads are doing well right now and training hard."
Ibe is in a purgatory of sorts given his impressive showings this preseason--on the one hand, most had pegged him for a loan for the coming season, where he'd get regular minutes and have a chance to build not only on the promising showings during the summer, but also the eleven appearances he made for Birmingham City on loan during the spring. On the other hand are those promising showings during the summer, as well as the notion that he might be a player that's too valuable to let go.
A loan still seems like the best fit, although it wouldn't be a complete shock to see him featuring for Liverpool's first-team at some point by the time next May arrives. Whatever ends up happening, the prospect of him adding goals and improved tactical awareness to his game is an exciting one, and one he'll hopefully make strides toward this season.