Evening Standard journalist David Lynch has backed Liverpool teenager Neco Williams to be a fixed member of Jurgen Klopp’s first team squad next season as the main right-back alternative to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In an interview with Anfield Watch, he said that the 18-year-old prospect should be the go-to option for that role whenever the England international is rested or unavailable, instead of Jurgen Klopp asking 34-year-old midfielder James Milner to fill in at right-back, as he has done on occasion for Liverpool.
Lynch, who also tipped long-term injury victim Nathaniel Clyne to leave the club upon regaining full fitness, told Anfield Watch: “Klopp has huge faith in the crop of youngsters who train regularly at Melwood and I genuinely believe they are capable of playing a role next season. Williams should be considered Trent Alexander-Arnold’s direct back-up rather than James Milner.”
Neco Williams’ Liverpool story so far
The Welsh teenager, who turns 19 on Monday week, has featured in five domestic cup games for Liverpool’s first team this season, getting his debut in the Carabao Cup against Arsenal in late October. He made a telling impact in that sensational 5-5 draw, delivering the cross from which Divock Origi scored in stoppage time to take the tie to a penalty shoot-out that the Reds ultimately won (as per liverpoolfc.com).
His distribution also led to a decisive goal in the FA Cup replay win over Shrewsbury two months ago as his diagonal ball from deep was inadvertently headed by Ro-Shaun Williams into his own net, having provided an assist in the drawn game against the League One outfit.
Williams’ display in Liverpool’s FA Cup loss at Chelsea last month was lauded by numerous Reds fans on Twitter, as well as ex-Anfield goalkeeper Chris Kirkland on Love Sport Radio. A tally of three assists from only five first team appearances hints at a young right-back who, like Alexander-Arnold, can make an enormous attacking contribution to his team from a nominally defensive position.
Williams looks ready to be integrated into senior squad next season
The early signs are that the 18-year-old looks comfortable at senior level, even though he has yet to be tested in the Premier League. It is worth remembering, though, that Alexander-Arnold had not long turned 18 when he was thrown into the fray for a league clash at Old Trafford three years ago.
With Clyne possibly exiting in the summer – Turkish outfit Posta claimed [via Sport Witness] that Besiktas are keen on signing him – that would leave no natural right-back alternative for Alexander-Arnold. Joe Gomez can play in that position, but Klopp has preferrred him as a centre-back partner to Virgil van Dijk, while it may be asking a lot of 34-year-old Milner to have the legs to regularly fill in at full-back next season, even if his spirit is so often indomitable – as evidenced with his heroic goal-line clearance against Bournemouth last month.
Lynch is right to call for Williams to be promoted to the first-team squad next season as the primary backup for Alexander-Arnold. The young Welshman has so far looked like a player who is capable of making the step up to senior level.
Liverpool fans, do you think Williams should be the second-choice right-back in the senior squad next season or is it still too early to entrust him with that responsibility? Join in the discussion by commenting below!