Where are they now? Liverpool’s 12 youngest debutants of the PL era
Liverpool pride themselves on seeing academy products establish themselves in the first team – but what has become of their 12 youngest debutants of the Premier League era?
Trent Alexander-Arnold is currently flourishing under Jurgen Klopp, and the Reds have a number of other promising young players on their books who they hope will follow in the right-back’s footsteps.
We’ve taken a look back at every player under the age of 18 to debut for Liverpool in the Premier League era, starting with the eldest at the time of their bow.
One of five players on this list still currently on the books at Liverpool, Jones made his debut against Wolves in the FA Cup last season and has followed that with an appearance in the League Cup this term.
“Curtis was excellent in possession and looked a real threat,” academy director Alex Inglethorpe told The Athletic. “He has been outstanding in the Under-23s games so far this season and having that run of games has helped him. He’s got bigger, stronger and gained more experience.
“I think Curtis can play in two positions – left of the front three and in midfield, too. He’s possibly more Adam Lallana than Sadio Mane in terms of his approach and capabilities.”
Sepp van den Berg
The joint-most recent debutant, Van den Berg joined Liverpool from PEC Zwolle over the summer in a deal worth a potential £4.4million.
Despite being just 17, Ven den Berg already had 22 Eredivisie appearances to his name, and the defender made his Liverpool debut in the League Cup clash with MK Dons earlier this season.
One of only two players on this list to make his Liverpool bow in the 90s, you have to go back to the very first Premier League season for when Charnock became the youngest Reds player to appear in European competition after playing in a Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Apollon Limassol.
The midfielder made just one more appearance for the senior side before dropping down the leagues, spending three years in Northern Ireland and ending his playing career at Mossley.
He has subsequently come full circle, returning to Liverpool as an academy coach in 2012.
Happy 44th Birthday today to former Pool loanee midfielder … Phil Charnock
Phil is now the U12s coach at the Liverpool FC Academy
Hope you have a great day !
— BFC Former Players (@BFC_ExPlayers) February 14, 2019
While Rossiter was handed his Liverpool debut by Brendan Rodgers, scoring in a League Cup victory over Middlesbrough, the midfielder is perhaps best remembered on Merseyside after Jurgen Klopp bemoaned an injury he picked up on international duty by saying: “These young players are our future. If we handle them like horses, we get horses.”
A move to Rangers in 2016 was similarly blighted by injuries and he is now on loan at Fleetwood Town, admitting himself that his career at Ibrox is all but over.
There were hopes at Anfield that Ibe could follow in the footsteps of Raheem Sterling, but whereas Sterling’s career has gone in one direction since leaving the Reds, Ibe’s has gone in the complete opposite.
Ibe has played 48 minutes of Premier League football across two substitute appearances for Bournemouth this season. We don’t expect Liverpool to be exercising that buyback clause anytime soon.
Owen’s post-Liverpool career makes us sad. We loved him at Anfield. Indeed, he feels the same way.
Doing slightly better than Jordon Ibe.
Woodburn was the great hope for the future at Liverpool only a couple of seasons ago when he netted on his debut against Leeds to become the club’s youngest ever goalscorer.
The attacking midfielder repeated the feat on his Wales debut, but a loan move to Sheffield United last season was cut short in January and he now finds himself on loan in League One with Oxford – although the 20-year-old has not given up on his Liverpool dream.
“I have learned so much at Oxford this season, knowing I am able to play 90 minutes and keep fighting for the team,” he recently told The Daily Mail. “I have taken a lot of kicks and heavy tackles and shown I’m not lightweight.
“I feel like I have had so much experience and yet I am still only young and learning. Watching someone like Serge Gnabry develop is a big help. I saw his four goals for Bayern Munich against Tottenham in the Champions League. When he was 20, he couldn’t get a game on loan at West Brom.
“He has shown you can push through if you keep working hard and hopefully I can do something like he’s done.
“I am looking forward to this birthday. I’m happy that maybe all these people calling me the young lad will realise I am turning into a man and ready for it. I know what I can do and I have to just show it on the pitch.”
Like Jones, Hoever made his Liverpool debut against Wolves in last season’s FA Cup after arriving from Ajax in the previous summer.
The defender, who Jurgen Klopp describes as “a joy to watch”, scored his first goal for the club in the victory at MK Dons in the League Cup earlier this season.
Liverpool's youngest-ever competitive goalscorers:
• Raheem Sterling (17 years, 317 days)
• Ki-Jana Hoever (17 years, 250 days)
• Jordan Rossiter (17 years, 183 days)
• Michael Owen (17 years, 144 days)
• Ben Woodburn (17 years, 45 days)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 25, 2019
Handed his senior debut as a 16-year-old in Rafa Benitez’s final game in charge of the club, Robinson made just 10 more appearances for Liverpool’s first team while being sent out on loan twice.
The defender then spent four years at QPR before joining Nottingham Forest ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
A recent signing from Fulham, Elliott became the youngest ever player to appear in the Premier League last season with the cottagers before becoming the youngest ever player to start a match for Liverpool in the League Cup tie with MK Dons.
When asked after that game whether Elliott, Curtis Jones and Ki-Jana Hoever are ready for the Premier League, Klopp replied: “I think they are all ready for that, that is clear. But you need to find the right moment. They have to learn and develop a lot.
“It was really nice (at MK). I think for Harvey it was the most obvious with the things he did on the pitch.
“We are not in doubt about these boys, and we know what we want to do with them and what we expect from them. But the best news is that they have all the time in the world.”
A cautionary tale for Harvey Elliott and co, Sinclair became Liverpool’s youngest ever player after coming off the bench in a League Cup tie against West Brom, the club he left for Merseyside as a 14-year-old.
But the forward swapped Anfield for Watford in 2016 following a contract dispute and his career has failed to live up to the early hype.
He has made only 12 appearances in all competitions for Watford and is now onto his fourth loan spell away from Vicarage Road with Dutch outfit VVV Venlo.