Nine young players Jurgen Klopp has earmarked for Liverpool’s future

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has taken the Premier League title to Anfield – now the job is to defend the crown.

The Reds have completely dominated this term, and with their first team stars now in their peak years – perhaps only Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Naby Keita of their first-choice 15-16 players are yet to reach their apex – they will once more be firmly in 'win-now' mode next season.

The issue that Klopp is facing is how to improve his side, particularly amid the financial uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Without signing £70million-plus players, the champions will struggle to bring in anyone to slot straight into the first XI that improves the side.

And, quite simply, in the upcoming transfer window Liverpool won't be spending that kind of cash.

“We cannot spend millions and millions and millions because we want to or we think it is nice to do," said Klopp on Monday. "We never wanted that. Covid has influenced both sides with ins and outs. It’s not likely that it will be the most busy summer in the world."

So how best to improve on his relentless record-breakers?

For the German, it will be about looking inwards.

“The problem with a strong squad is how do you improve a strong squad on the transfer market? You have to be creative and we try to be creative. We try to find solutions internally."

Thus it will be about his first-team showing the drive and determination to push for more, just like they did in 2019 when, after winning the Champions League, they immediately set about pushing forwards to overhaul Manchester City. Great teams, truly great teams, dynasties win, win and win again. And then again.

It will be about getting that little bit more out of the likes of Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino.

But most pertinently it will be about bringing through the club's young crop of stars, offering them opportunities and a platform to impress, while pushing those in front of them.

Klopp has been keen to keep pathways open for his young players when he truly believes in their ability; Gomez, despite a number of injury issues, being a prime example at Liverpool.

Likewise Alexander-Arnold, when some believed a replacement for Nathaniel Clyne needed to be sought. How he turned to a 17-year-old Mario Götze at Dortmund is another, albeit from a former life.

Over the last 12-18 months he has spoken about a number of gifted youngsters whom he believes can push his senior stars and become regulars at Anfield. At times they have been able to show their talent in brief cameos or cup competition.

Now he is ready to back them further, believing they can add him more options and become enhanced spokes on his relentless winning machine.

"What we want is to create are our transfers internally," Klopp added. "We have three or four players who can make big, big steps.

"So bring the boys up!"

Liverpool – Premier League champions




So who are the young players to whom Klopp will turn? Those who will be tasked with coming into a squad devoid of cliques and making it even better.

On Monday he name-checked eight, while he has previously vocally expressed his delight with another.

Rhian Brewster

The razor-sharp striker fired England Under-17s to World Cup glory in 2017 but has seen his progress hindered by a serious ankle injury since.

Back fit he spent the first half of 2019-20 training with the seniors, before the decision was made for him to join Swansea in the second half of the season to further his development.

Has impressed in the Championship, with his movement and willingness to stand up to physical defenders. The question is whether it's worth him staying out on loan for more game time next term, or returning?

Jake Cain

On the club’s books since the age of nine, talented midfielder Cain moved up to the Under-23s in December and made his first-team debut in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury in February.

Likes to play as the most advanced midfielder in a central trio, he has impressed club staff with how he leads the press and his ability to find space between the lines.

However, given the midfield options at Klopp’s disposal, it’s difficult to see where he can break through next term.

Leighton Clarkson

Blackburn-born Clarkson is a smart, creative passer, capable of breaking through opposing lines and has impressed with his set-pieces, often playing in a No.8 role in the U23s.

The 18-year-old inked his first deal last summer and made his first Reds start in the replay against Shrewsbury.

Like close pal Cain, it’s difficult to see how he really breaks through in the senior side in 2020-21.

Harvey Elliott

Signed from Fulham last year after making his Premier League debut for the Cottagers age 16 years, 30 days, the left-footed winger has made a stellar impression since moving to Merseyside.

He only turned 17 in April, he has been hugely impression for the club’s U23 side, while his first-team offerings have contained moments of brilliance, be it a smart pass or piece of skill; comparisons to Salah, in terms of style with the ball at his feet, aren’t without merit.

So highly-rated is Elliott – for some he is the best 17-year-old in England – that Klopp is determined to find him minutes to aid his development, which could help push Xherdan Shaqiri towards the exit door.

Ki-Jana Hoever

It’s now 18 months since the Dutchman became the third-youngest debutant in the club's history at the age of just 16 years and 354 days.

He’s continued to impress with his reading of the game, composure in possession and one-vs-one defending.

Capable at right-back but more natural at centre-half, should fourth-choice Dejan Lovren depart then he will step into that breach.

Curtis Jones

The versatile midfielder, 19, has captained the U23s and first-team this term and added a real goalscoring edge to his game to go with his change of pace and on-ball arrogance.

Announced his quality with his stunning FA Cup winner against Everton and his ability to play across midfield and the front line should see plenty of opportunities come his way in 2020-21.

Interesting to see where his long-term future lies position-wise, whether it’s from a No.8 position, the left side of the attack or as the successor to Roberto Firmino.

Yasser Larouci

Algerian teenager Larouci arrived as a flying winger from Le Havre in 2017 but has since dropped back and thrived.

Larouci has impressed with his speed, adaptation to playing as part of a defensive line and drives from deep.

Having made his senior debut against Everton in January, more opportunities will likely soon come his way, and he's a much more natural alternative to Andy Robertson than his current deputy, James Milner.

Sepp van den Berg

Signed from Eredivisie side Zwolle last summer, Van den Berg, 18, has made four appearances in cup competitions during his debut campaign.

A languid centre-back, he struggled in the League Cup loss to Aston Villa last December.

The Dutch U19 international would appear to be slightly behind compatriot Hoever in the pecking order.

Neco Williams

Like Alexander-Arnold, Williams has been converted into a right-back by the club’s academy coaches, and the Welshman has shone with his dynamism and tenacity.

Played all four FA Cup matches and made his Premier League debut with an all-action cameo against Crystal Palace recently, making a real impression with his forward forays.

After a season of real growth and with Nathaniel Clyne departing, he looks set to be the back-up right-back next term.

Klopp insists: "We have space for improvement, of course.

"We have the chance to make competition internally.

"The doors are all wide open for the boys to come into the first XI."

Now, he waits to see who will step through.

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