‘Unbelievable talent’: All you need to know on Liverpool-bound Ben Doak
Liverpool are reportedly closing in on a deal for Celtic youngster Ben Doak – but who is the highly-rated 16-year-old?
Doak will be the latest young prospect to join Liverpool after Harvey Elliott was snapped up in 2019 and Kaide Gordon arrived at Anfield in 2021.
We’ve brought you the lowdown on the talented teenager that looks set to be heading for Anfield in a reported £600,000 deal.
Who is he?
Born in Scotland in November 2005, Ben comes from a footballing family and is the grandson of former Morton player Martin Doak.
He joined Celtic’s academy at a young age and was part of the St Ninian’s school programme, following in the footsteps of Kieran Tierney and Liam Henderson.
Doak first shot to prominence with a goal and Man of the Match performance on his debut for Scotland Under-17s against Wales in September 2021.
The academy graduate made his Celtic B debut in December 2021, playing under former Aberdeen and Hibernian defender Tommy McIntyre.
After training with the Celtic first-team, he was also promoted to the matchday squad in December, sitting on the bench for the 3-1 win at St Johnstone.
The 16-year-old then made his Celtic debut a month later, coming on as a 68th-minute substitute in a 1–0 Scottish Premiership win against Dundee United. He then became the club’s second-youngest debutant after Jack Aitchison.
Doak has since made another cameo appearance in a 3-0 win over Rangers as Celtic tried to convince him to stay in Glasgow.
But Liverpool have reportedly fended off competition from a number of tops clubs around Europe to sign Doak, who found the prospect of working alongside Jurgen Klopp too good to turn down.
He is yet to sign a professional contract with Celtic so the Scottish side would only be due a minimal fee in compensation when the move to Anfield is completed.
Ben Doak goal for Scotland u17s vs Wales u17s – 02/09/21 ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/KtPmCtb7JC
— Celtic Youth and Loan Highlights 🎥 (@celtic_ylvids) September 3, 2021
Where he plays
Doak is naturally a winger and has mainly played in that position for Celtic’s youth sides, but he’s also very versatile. The 16-year-old has been used as an attacking full-back, a wing-back or even as an attacking midfielder.
He’s renowned for his incredible speed, impressive dribbling ability and willingness to directly take on an opposing defender.
Liverpool currently have an abundance of exciting attacking players, including Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino.
But Doak would probably hone his skills with their Under-18s and Under-23s before looking to replace those forwards in the next few years.
What he said
Unsurprisingly, the 16-year-old is yet to do any interviews with the media, but he couldn’t hide his delight after making his senior debut.
“Proud moment for me and my family,” he posted on Instagram. “What an honour to make my debut for the club I’ve supported my full life.”
What they’ve said
– “Ben’s been training with us for a while,” manager Ange Postecoglou said after the win over Dundee. “It was Stephen McManus, actually, who brought him into the group. He’s a fantastic kid who comes from a good family. He looked really composed for his age.
“He’s grown up a bit today, it will have given him a different perspective on life. He probably would have been on the other side of the terracing if he hadn’t been playing!”
– “I thought he was excellent,” former Celtic player Jackie McNamara said on Celtic TV after Doak’s debut. “He was direct, the kid’s got no fear. That’s the beauty of young players.
“They’ve no experience of fear and the stuff that goes with it, they just want to go and play. He’s an exciting talent. He’s got so much pace and directness – it’s exciting to watch.”
– “That’s a boy with pace — a lad you couldn’t describe as shy,” former Celtic academy coach Martin Miller told The Athletic. “Plenty of self-belief and ambition, very quick and very good on the ball.”
– “He’s one of Jackie’s as well,” John Hartson said on The Go Radio Football Show in January. “He’s building them up is Jackie Mac my old roommate. Apparently he’s an unbelievable talent and highly rated at Celtic. They are trying to tie him down to a longer contract, Ben Doak.
“So as I said, he is another one like the boy Dembele who came through very, very young. But Celtic think very highly of him. I can tell you that.”
– “Ben Doak is an outstanding player,” McIntyre said in February 2022. “He’s a kind of old-fashioned winger that eliminates full-backs and I certainly wouldn’t like to play against Ben Doak, he gives you so much.”
– “To only get a compensation fee, that’s a blow,” Alex McLeish told Football Insider. “That is a blow to lose a kid at that age without him developing in the first team and maybe getting a couple of successes under his belt.
“It’s a shame to lose him but it’s not as if he’s going to a club that won’t improve him. You can see it in different ways. We’ve lamented for so long about the national team struggling and not having the players.
“We’ve seen others leaving as young players. When you go back in time, you see guys like Graeme Souness going to Tottenham when he was 17, 18. If it’s going to help the national team, we’ve got to consider that as well.”