The eight academy players Liverpool released in 2020 & how they’ve fared

While Liverpool have given first-team opportunities to some top-class talents from their academy over the years, not every youngster can make the grade at Anfield.

The Reds recently announced the departures of four academy players, who will now be looking to forge careers elsewhere.

We’ve looked at the eight academy players who were released in the summer of 2020 to see how they’ve fared since.

Shamal George

Despite being a goalkeeper, George followed in Pepe Reina’s footsteps and played up front during a pre-season friendly against Huddersfield Town in 2016.

The 23-year-old never made a competitive appearance for the Reds, however, and joined Colchester United following a successful trial period in August 2020.

He initially sat behind Dean Gerken in the pecking order and had to wait until January 2021 before making his League Two debut.

George took his opportunity with both hands, keeping seven clean sheets in 15 appearances during the second half of the season as they narrowly avoided relegation.

Daniel Atherton

Just like George and Reina, Atherton also ditched his goalkeeper gloves and briefly played outfield for Liverpool during a pre-season friendly.

The 21-year-old got his first taste of competitive football on loan at Marine in 2020 but was then released upon his return to Anfield.

He is yet to sign a permanent deal with any club but has recently been playing for amateur side FC Malaga City New York in the USL League Two.

Isaac Christie-Davies

Christie-Davies made his senior Liverpool debut in the 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa in December 2019, but that proved to be his one and only appearance for the club. 

He suffered a knee injury a few days into his loan spell at Belgian side Cercle Brugge and wasn’t offered a new contract by the Reds at the end of 2019-20.

“After two great years at Liverpool it’s time for me to move on to the next step in my career,” Christie-Davies wrote on Instagram. “I would like to say thank you to all at the club including team-mates, all the staff on and off the pitch and supporters.

“It was a childhood dream to play for Liverpool so I’m honoured to have been able to do that. An extra thank you to the fans for the support, you are what makes the club what it is.”

He then linked up with fellow Liverpool academy graduate Herbie Kane at Barnsley but is yet to make his debut for the Championship side.

The 23-year-old joined Slovakian top-flight outfit DAC Dunajska Streda on loan in January 2021 and registered two assists in 10 appearances.

Niall Brookwell

Brookwell swapped one Premier League academy for another, joining Newcastle United’s Under-23s upon the expiration of his Liverpool contract.

The defensive midfielder reportedly turned down interest from Burnley, Crystal Palace and Sunderland before scoring on his Premier League 2 debut for the Magpies.

He was a regular for their Under-23s in 2020-21 and also made two EFL Trophy appearances but is yet to make his senior debut.

“I wanted to join Newcastle because of the size of the club,” Brookwell told Newcastle’s official website in September 2020. “There is a massive fanbase here and everyone knows about Newcastle, with the supporters being so involved in the team.

“I also saw the likes of the Longstaff brothers coming through and it’s a good inspiration for myself because with the right attitude and working hard every day, you can get given that chance (at senior level) and when you get that chance, you have to grasp it.”

Dal Varesanovic 

Despite being linked with Barcelona and Dinamo Zagreb, Varesanovic decided to join Liverpool from FK Sarajevo in the summer of 2017.

The midfielder was coached by Steven Gerrard in the academy and graduated to the Under-23s but eventually decided to leave the club in search of regular first-team football.

“It was a big decision for me,” Varesanovic told First Time Finish in April 2021. “At Liverpool with so many players from all over the world, it’s very hard for anyone to be near the first team.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it, and I saw a lot of others players also not getting chances. I thought for me the best thing was to go to a team where I can play men’s football regularly.”

He returned to hometown club FK Sarajevo in October 2020 and marked his only league appearance so far with a debut goal against FK Krupa.

READ: The nine Liverpool academy grads playing elsewhere in major leagues

Alex Turner

Not to be mistaken for the Arctic Monkeys lead singer, Turner joined Liverpool’s academy at the age of eight and progressed up to their Under-18s.

After being released by his boyhood club, the midfielder didn’t move far away from home and joined Northern Premier League Division One West side Runcorn Linnets in September 2020. 

He made a few appearances for the club before their season was brought to a premature end due to the global pandemic.

Kai McKenzie-Lyle

The third goalkeeper on this list, McKenzie-Lyle had already played and scored for Guyana at international level before joining Liverpool’s academy in 2018.

He spent two years with their Under-23s before signing for Cambridge United on a two-year deal, but he is yet to make his first-team debut for the club.

Abel Rodrigues

Having started his career at Pais FC, Rodriques spent four years in Liverpool’s academy but never came close to a first-team debut.

The left-back returned to his native France at the expiration of his contract and joined fourth-tier side US Lusitanos Saint-Maur, making one substitute appearance in 2020-21.

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