Ben Woodburn has showed clear glimpses of a bright future already.
Despite struggling for first-team minutes in a loaded Liverpool attacks, Woodburn’s few performances in the senior team have been compounded on either side by excellent UEFA Youth League form and early signs of a sterling international career with Wales.
His first international goal against Austria last season was a vital one, scored minutes after coming on for his international debut in World Cup qualifying.
Now, he truly begins his senior career in the Sky Bet Championship with Sheffield United.
Lacking an outstanding physical trait, Woodburn’s game is predicated around his ball carrying ability and his manipulation of spaces in the final third.
There he excels. Whether it is carrying the ball into the penalty box himself from his favoured left wing, or taking up positions in the penalty box himself, the Welshman loves to be impactful.
He is not a wide player that becomes isolated out wide.
His goal-scoring record at youth level suggests that.
However, it will be interesting to see how he will be able to translate his willingness to drift centrally into senior football, where spaces will be tighter, and defences will be tougher.
He is not one dimensional, though.
Sheffield United’s loanee will look to lead the offensive transition in counter-attacking situations.
Conversely, when presented with less space he can play with his back to goal and look to connect with the other attackers around him.
Now 18 years of age, Woodburn seeks to establish himself as a senior level starter.
However, he is under no pressure from Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.
“It’s good for him to learn and whatever happens, he is our boy so there is no pressure for him,” Klopp told Liverpool’s club website after the announcement of Woodburn’s loan to Sheffield United.
“He can only enjoy himself in this situation, work hard, get new experiences and come back stronger. Then we will see.”
He should see minutes this season, as he presents a playing profile that is largely absent from Sheffield United’s squad.
Liverpool round-up: Champions League blow; Mignolet departure nears; Fabinho discusses challenge
Liverpool are left waiting to see which seed they will be in the Champions League draw
Liverpool will be hoping that PAOK will beat Portuguese side Benfica in their Champions League qualifying play-off as victory for the Greek side will see the Reds through to Pot 2 in the Champions League draw ahead of the Iberian outfit.
The draw will take place in Monaco on August 30, with Liverpool currently the highest ranked team in Pot 3 but behind Benfica, the only remaining Pot 2 team in qualification. It comes after Swiss side FC Basel were shockingly knocked out, allowing Liverpool to take up the spot of first in line to join Pot 2.
Simon Mignolet’s agent has spoken about his future
Simon Mignolet has been strongly linked with a move away from Anfield as he has fallen even further down the pecking order following the arrival of Alisson Becker, and it now seems that he may be third choice on Merseyside. Napoli are the latest club to be linked with a move before the transfer window shuts in Italy on Friday.
“We are in discussions with Napoli, but there is no agreement yet. In the end it is in their interest to find a solution. Liverpool want to keep Simon, but he wants to play in matches – and he should. He deserves to play for a big club. Simon is the best option for Napoli in terms of quality, even though there is a financial aspect to it.”
With time running out, all parties will have to get to work if they are to come to an agreement to allow the Belgian to leave. Much could depend on the future of second choice shotstopper Loris Karius, who has also been linked with an exit.
Fabinho has discussed the challenge of adapting to the Premier League
Summer signing Fabinho was only on the bench for the Reds on Sunday as they overcame West Ham United with a 4-0 win and the Brazilian has discussed the challenge that he faces having joined from Monaco.
“I think my performances have been good. It’s a different playing style than at Monaco; there were two of us in midfield there and here at Liverpool there’s three… I knew [my role] would change and I feel I’ve adapted well. When I came to Liverpool I knew this competition would exist in midfield and I think it’s really good for the team.”
Some fans were not convinced by his pre-season form but it remains early days in his Anfield career with plenty of opportunities ahead to prove himself in a holding midfield role.
One to Watch: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold oozes confidence vs West Ham
The 19-year-old picked up exactly where he left off last season.
He simply picked up from where he left season, oozing confidence as he patrolled the right side – camping himself in West Ham’s territory as Liverpool dominated the match.
The Englishman’s exceptional passing ability was the main feature of his performance.
He touched the ball 99 times and completed 58 of his 69 passes, with one delightful line-breaking pass standing out.
This ball, played through to Naby Keita as Liverpool broke forward in the build-up to their first goal, highlighted how dangerous Alexander-Arnold’s passing range when he is given time to raise his eyes and play diagonal balls through midfield.
This diagonal pass split West Ham’s entire midfield open, sending Keita on a burst that culminated in Salah putting the Reds 1-0 ahead.
It was symbolic of the mentality Klopp instils in his players, making them feel confident taking risks to set attacks in motion.
In this instance, the 19-year-old could easily have recycled the ball to a centre-back, but his team were rewarded for his courage in possession.
Defensively, he was also quite active, completing four of his five tackles and making a solitary interception.
Again, having West Ham camped in their own half suited Alexander-Arnold as he was able to press up the pitch and win the ball early in typical Liverpool fashion.
He continues to prove why he is so important to this Liverpool team, and highlights why Nathaniel Clyne cannot get close to first-team football.
Liverpool round-up: Klopp’s West Ham reaction; Klavan bid rejected; Lovren latest
Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a record equaling win over West Ham United thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane twice and Daniel Sturridge. The victory took the team straight to the top of the table with one game played and 37 more to go.
“A very good start, for sure. Yes, it’s a start – perfect as well because we won the game. For us it was not perfect, but really good. West Ham will play for sure a good season, but they are not then the Uniteds, Citys and all that stuff. That’s how it is, they know that and we know that and we have to be ready week in, week out for all the different challenges. Expectation – ours is the highest, but that changes nothing.”
The Reds were dominant up against Mauricio Pellegrini’s Hammers, who were never at the races. Having taken a two goal lead before half-time, Mane added a second before Sturridge scored with his first touch despite coming on as a late substitute.
Newcastle wanted Klavan
News has emerged that the Reds turned down a deadline day bid from Newcastle United for Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan. The report comes from The Chronicle, who say that former Anfield boss Rafa Benitez was keen on the central defender as a cheap option to strengthen his squad.
However, Jurgen Klpop decided that the team could not do without the 32-year-old, who is currently unavailable for selection due to an injury problem. That is despite the fact that his contract is set to expire in 2019, though Klopp has previously said he would like to retain his services.
Lovren set for weeks out
Dejan Lovren returned from the World Cup suffering from a stomach problem and remains sidelined by the issue, as Jurgen Klopp has now confirmed. The German revealed that the Croatian was already struggling towards the end of the season but played through the pain expecting that it would clear up when he had time off after the summer break.
“I am pretty sure it will settle in the next one, two or three weeks. In that time he can probably for sure train already, but not the full programme, so that will then take time. In the end, it is serious but not that serious, so it’s not that we need to be afraid that it will take him until whenever. In the moment he is not available, that’s true.”
However, that has not been the case and the coach has now revealed that he faces one to three weeks on the sidelines with the issue. Joe Gomez excelled in his place on Sunday and looks set to retain that position.
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