The 10 Liverpool wonderkids on FM2022: Elliott, Musialowski…
Shut your curtains and say goodbye to your social life for the next few months: Football Manager 2022 is out now and it ought to provide some interesting challenges for Liverpool fans.
In real life, Jurgen Klopp has often given Liverpool’s most outstanding youngsters – such as Trent Alexander-Arnold – opportunities in the first team, while there are no shortage of promising players that could be on the cusp of breaking through this season.
Here are the 10 of the club’s wonderkids that FMScout have picked out from the latest edition of Football Manager.
Koumetio was handed his senior debut by Klopp as a half-time substitute for Fabinho as Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw in the Champions League against FC Midtjylland in December 2020.
In spite of injuries to Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, further opportunities weren’t forthcoming as Klopp called upon Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams to help steer the Reds to a top-four finish last term.
There’s still plenty of time for the 18-year-old former Lyon academy defender, who is continuing his development in Liverpool’s youth ranks. Results for the Under-21s this season have included a 4-0 defeat to Rochdale and 4-1 defeat to Bolton in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Sepp van den Berg
Signed as a highly-rated prospect from Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle in the summer of 2019, 6’2″ centre-back Van den Berg has had to be patient for opportunities at Anfield – even amid last season’s injury crisis.
The Netherlands Under-21 international was loaned out to Preston for the latter half of the 2020-21 campaign, with Ben Davies (who didn’t make a single appearance) moving in the other direction that January window.
Van den Berg extended his loan at Deepdale for the full 2021-22 season and has been a regular for the Championship side, even playing against his parent club in a 2-0 defeat in the League Cup.
The most established name in this list, Jones has already made over 50 appearances for Klopp’s Liverpool and looks set for plenty more.
“I can’t wait until it is my turn to be in the team and I am winning games with the club. I want to become a legend in this city myself,” the 20-year-old told the Liverpool Echo following Liverpool’s 2020 title triumph.
Liverpool signed the Germany youth international from Hoffenheim in 2020.
The midfielder scored on his debut for the Under-18s, a 5-0 win over Huddersfield, and has since added a fair few goals since, including a consolation goal off the bench as the young Reds were defeated 2-1 by Aston Villa in the FA Youth Cup final last season.
Frauendorf, still just 17, has three goals and three assists from eight appearances in the Under-18s Premier League so far this season.
How about that for a ball?! 👏
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 28, 2021
File alongside Jones as one that’s pretty much already there.
The Premier League’s youngest-ever debutant took his game up another level on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season and impressed Klopp so much on his return that he was thrown straight into midfield.
The teenager’s incredible rise was stunted by a nasty ankle injury suffered away at Leeds United back in September. He’s since teased his rehab work on social media and is expected to make his return before the end of the season.
“Kaide is a fantastic player. I brought him into the squad because he was showing the qualities I want,” Wayne Rooney said as it became clear that Derby County were about to lose one their best prospects.
“We offered him a deal which he didn’t take. As always when a player doesn’t sign up, if any of the big clubs in the Premier League come in, it is very difficult to deny the player that opportunity.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the tricky winger.
Son of former Newcastle United cult hero Lee Clark, Bobby developed his skills at the North East club’s academy before making the switch to Melwood this summer.
Born in February 2005, it might be a while before we see Clark in the first team, but his versatility – able to play in midfield or across the forward line – should stand him in good stead.
He’s already been fast-tracked to the Under-21s, making his debut at that level in a 5-1 Football League Trophy defeat away to Port Vale.
Born and raised in Manchester, Balagizi made the switch from Man City’s academy to Liverpool as an Under-11 player and seems to be one to watch.
The attacking midfielder recently turned 18, and was described as “outstanding” in the young Reds’ recent 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Youth League. He’s recently participated in training with the first team, and is currently away with England’s Under-19s.
If James Balagizi was at the right club in France or Germany he would be playing first team football right now.
— TheSecretScout (@TheSecretScout_) August 17, 2021
Of all the kids in Liverpool’s academy that are yet to make their first-team debut, Musialowski is the most-hyped.
Having joined from Lodz last summer, the 18-year-old Polish winger has drawn comparisons to Lionel Messi. Which is ridiculous for a teenager yet to kick a ball at senior level, but not that ridiculous when you watch him move with the ball at his feet.
Local lad Stewart signed a long-term contract with his boyhood club earlier this year. A serious knee injury has left him sidelined since January, and the club will be sure to manage his recovery and minutes carefully going forward.
26 goals in 24 appearances in the Under-18s Premier League suggests the kid has a big future.