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Liverpool’s 16-year-old ‘diamond’ Kaide Gordon in contention for debut

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2021-09-20
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Kaide Gordon in action for Liverpool in a Uefa Youth League game against Milan last week.

Kaide Gordon is in contention to make his Liverpool debut on Tuesday, with the assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders describing the 16-year-old as one of “many diamonds” on the pathway to the first team.

The teenage winger has made a major impression since joining Liverpool from Derby in February and has been named in Jürgen Klopp’s squad for the Carabao Cup third-round tie at Norwich. The 18-year-old midfielder Conor Bradley is another youngster in the travelling party, with Liverpool poised to make wholesale changes.

Gordon made one senior appearance for his home-town club before moving to Anfield for an undisclosed compensation fee. He impressed Klopp when called into the senior ranks for pre-season training, starting the friendly win against Osasuna at Anfield, and Lijnders has described how the winger instantly caught his eye this summer.

“Before pre-season we always make sure our biggest talents start a week earlier than we do,” he said. “They start with the under-23s so I went to the under-23s training ground and I saw one player who had fire in each moment that he touches the ball. He passes players like they are not standing there. I called Jürgen immediately and said: ‘Wow! We have a new player here.’

“We take all these young players to pre-season and when do you know you have a good player around you? It is when the senior players start taking care of this young player. So when you see James Milner speaking with Kaide, when you see Trent [Alexander-Arnold] becoming like a proper mentor to him, when you see all the boys invite him to sit at the table, that made it good for him to adapt to our team and our style.

“He is what you see a lot with these wingers but he has a goal in him and he has this natural ability to be in the box between the posts to score even when a cross comes from the opposite side. Not many talents have that. They maybe have dribbling skills but they don’t have that desire to shoot, to come in the box, to score. He is a typical Liverpool Football Club winger in my opinion because he has goals and he has speed. We really like him and really like that he is with us.”

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Lijnders insists it is essential that Liverpool show their academy prospects there is a route to the first team despite the risk to the team’s prospects of winning the Carabao Cup.

“There are so many diamonds, so many special players, who just can’t wait to make these steps so it is important we keep doing this,” he said.

“With one player we push, we inspire the entire academy, so we have to keep the logic of the inside pathway. One, because we win players and, two, because we become a better team because young players will never let you down.”

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