Liverpool are among several clubs reportedly in the chase for the signature of a rising talent hailed by a former Anfield executive as “probably the best 16-year-old in England right now”.
A report in The Athletic claimed that the Reds are joined by Manchester City and Manchester United, among others, in the pursuit of Aston Villa midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka, who is recognised as the top talent in the club’s academy and for whom Villa are trying to secure a new deal to ward off prospective suitors.
According to The Athletic, discussions over the youngster’s future had commenced before Aston Villa’s training complex was closed down last month as part of the nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, with no agreement having been reached. Villa Park CEO Christian Purslow, formerly the managing director of Liverpool, proclaimed Chukwuemeka as “probably the best 16-year-old in England right now”, making no effort to downplay his potential.
Liverpool have a track record for identifying some of the brightest under-18 talents in England and succeeding in their attempts to bring them to Anfield. Last summer, the Reds managed to sign Harvey Elliott, then 16, from Fulham for an undisclosed fee. The teenage winger had featured three times for the Cottagers’ first team and has made seven senior appearances for Liverpool this season, starting six domestic cup ties and drawing rave reviews from some Reds fans after his debut display against MK Dons in September.
Raheem Sterling was even younger when he traded London for Merseyside, signed by the Reds from QPR in 2010 when he was only 15. Within a few months he appeared for the first team in a pre-season friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach at the outset of Roy Hodgson’s managerial reign (as per The Guardian) and, at just 17 years and three months, he was given a Premier League debut by Kenny Dalglish against Wigan. He was ultimately sold to Manchester City in 2015 for £49m (as per BBC) but has gone on to win 56 senior caps for England before his 25th birthday.
While not every player will get their Premier League break as early as Elliott or Sterling, the noises from Aston Villa’s academy suggest that Chukwuemeka could follow in the footsteps of the current and former Liverpool proteges. As reported by The Athletic, some who have seen him up close believe that his physicality and versatility (he can play in any central midfield role, ideally as a box-to-box midfielder) could enable him to develop into an elite footballer.
If the Reds can beat both Manchester clubs and all other suitors to his signature, it would reaffirm their reputation as a club with a keen eye for attracting prodigious talent and it would make a firm statement by seeing off some illustrious competitors to land such a highly-touted youngster.
Liverpool fans, do you think Chukwuemeka could break into senior football as quickly as the likes of Elliott and Sterling? Do you think he would be a real coup for the Reds if they land his signature? Comment below with your views!