Where are they now? Liverpool’s 16 youngest debutants of the PL era

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Liverpool's Jerome Sinclair playing in the UEFA Youth League against Real Madrid. Langtree Park, October 2014.

Liverpool pride themselves on seeing academy products establish themselves in the first team – but what has become of their 16 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.

Melkamu Frauendorf

The most recent debutant, Frauendorf joined Liverpool’s academy from German side Hoffenheim in August 2020 and signed his first professional deal with the club in 2021. 

After impressing with the Under-18s, the midfielder made his senior debut in the closing stages of Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round win against Shrewsbury in January 2022.

He then made his debut for the Under-23s a day later and will be hoping to establish himself as a regular in Barry Lewtas’ side.

Curtis Jones

A boyhood Liverpool fan, Jones made his first-team debut in an FA Cup third-round defeat against Wolves in January 2019.

He enjoyed a better moment in the FA Cup third round in 2020, scoring his first goal for the club with a stunning winner against Everton. 

The 20-year-old has gone from strength to strength over the last two seasons, making over 50 first-team appearances and establishing himself as a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s side.

 

Sepp van den Berg

Van den Berg joined Liverpool from Dutch side PEC Zwolle in 2019 in a deal worth a potential £4.4million.

Despite being just 17 at the time, Van 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 in September 2019.

But he’s since made just three more first-team appearances for the club and is currently on loan at Championship side Preston North End.

Phil Charnock

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.

Jordan Rossiter

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 made a permanent return to England with Fleetwood Town in 2020.

The 24-year-old seems to have finally found a home with the League One side and was appointed as their club captain ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Jordon Ibe

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 joined Bournemouth in a £15million deal in 2016 but scored just five goals in 92 appearances for the club before being released in 2020.

The 26-year-old most recently made one appearance during a brief spell at Derby County and currently finds himself without a club.

Michael Owen

Owen’s post-Liverpool career makes us sad. We loved him at Anfield. Indeed, he feels the same way.

Michael Owen celebrates goal against Arsenal

READ: Michael Owen: I never hated football; it was just never better than at Liverpool

Raheem Sterling

Doing slightly better than Jordon Ibe.

Tom Hill

While Liverpool were playing at the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2019, Neil Critchley named a young Xl for their EFL Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa. 

Hill was the youngest player in Liverpool’s starting Xl and played the full 90 minutes in that 5-0 defeat at Villa Park.

The 20-year-old then suffered a serious knee injury in training with the Under-23s in September 2020 and is expected to make his return at the start of 2022.

Ben Woodburn

Woodburn was the great hope for the future at Liverpool in 2016 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 has failed to kick on as many had hoped, scoring just one goal in loan spells at Sheffield United, Oxford and Blackpool.

He’s currently spending 2021-22 on loan at Scottish side Hearts but has not yet lived up to expectations at Tynecastle. 

Ki-Jana Hoever

Like Jones, Hoever made his Liverpool debut against Wolves in the FA Cup in 2019 after arriving from Ajax in the previous summer.

The defender made three more appearances in 2019-20 and even became the youngest non-British player to score for Liverpool in a competitive match.

But he found himself behind Alexander-Arnold and Neco Williams in the pecking order and decided to complete a £9million move to Wolves in 2020.

The 19-year-old is yet to establish himself as a regular in the Wolves side but has made over 20 appearances in all competitions.

Kaide Gordon

Considered one of the best of the current bunch, Gordon joined Liverpool’s academy from Derby in February 2021 in a deal that could be worth up to £3million. 

He started an EFL Cup win over Norwich City at the age of 16 and then became their second-youngest goalscorer after finding the back of the net in the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury in January 2022.

“Kaide finishing-wise is no doubt, his finishing is exceptional but all the rest he is still a kid,” Klopp said after the Shrewsbury game.

“When he is in these situations he is really calm. I am not saying he will always score in these situations in the rest of his career but more often than not.”

The winger also made his Premier League debut against Brentford in January 2022 and looks set for a bright future at Anfield.

James Norris

While Hill was the youngest player to start that 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa, Norris was just 16 when he came off the bench in the 82nd minute at Villa Park.

The 18-year-old left-back is now a regular in Liverpool’s Under-23s and also made a very brief appearance against Shrewsbury in January 2022.

Jack Robinson

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 but rejected the offer of a new contract in 2018 before joining Nottingham Forest on a free transfer.

He briefly it back to the Premier League with Sheffield United in January 2020 but couldn’t prevent their relegation to the Championship in 2021. 

READ: Jack Robinson on leaving Liverpool, Suarez, Sterling and life at QPR

Harvey Elliott

Elliott became the youngest ever player to appear in the Premier League during his time at Fulham before becoming the youngest ever player to start a match for Liverpool in the League Cup tie with MK Dons in September 2019.

After making seven more appearances that season, he spent the following campaign on loan at Blackburn Rovers and earned rave reviews for his performances.

The 18-year-old returned to Anfield and appeared in their first four Premier League games of the 2021-22 season before suffering a serious ankle injury against Leeds United.

Jerome Sinclair

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 made only 12 appearances in all competitions for Watford and had five different loan spells away from Vicarage Road.

The 25-year-old was released by Watford at the end of the 2020-21 season and is yet to sign for a new club.


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