Liverpool have prided themselves on the development of young talent over the years, with the likes of Curtis Jones, Nathaniel Phillips and famously Trent Alexander-Arnold all coming through the ranks in recent seasons.
And it seems like this production line is showing no real sign of stopping, as a new youngster starts to take shape in Merseyside.
16-year-old Ben Doak was brought in from Celtic for around £600k this year, and if recent performances are to go by he may be on a fast track to future first-team football.
Playing against Napoli in the UEFA Youth League this week, Liverpool’s U19s came out 5-0 victors after a thoroughly dominant performance.
The Scotsman was particularly impressive, scoring a well-taken goal and providing the spark throughout the whole game. Doak was a constant threat, darting and weaving past stricken Napoli defenders, often leaving them in his dust or forcing a foul.
Anfield’s next Salah?
Able to play on the right or as a makeshift number nine, the former Celtic starlet is a versatile weapon in Liverpool’s youth setup. He doesn’t boast a huge physical presence, but perhaps evokes similarities with Manchester City and England star-boy Phil Foden – radiating a sense of effortlessness when on the ball.
Looking closer to Anfield though, there’s a possibility that the talented gem could be more in line with being the club’s next Mohamed Salah. Although it’s early for such a claim, the ability to find the net and terrorise opposition defences with free-spirited running and expert dribbling make the teenager a viable candidate to take over the Egyptian king’s mantle.
Statistically, the relentless forward is making a big impression, having scored eight goals and earned six assists. It’s also worth mentioning that this is across several different youth age groups – the winger has been so good that he’s been playing for Liverpool under 21’s side recently, despite being just 16.
Doaks’ former manager Evan Fairns has also spoken about the potential talent Liverpool have on their hands, speaking to The Athletic he remarked:
“His ability was quite raw but he had this physical presence, that is how he could compete and play up front. He was fearless on the park. It didn’t matter who he was playing against, it could have been a 6ft guy and he wouldn’t have been fazed.
It may very well be this fearlessness that sees the talented Scotsman go far, proving that talent can override physicality – much like in the case of Salah.
Even more tantalising for a manager like Jurgen Klopp will be Fairns’ comments on his former protege’s mentality and attitude:
“In training, he was just a sponge. He was very quiet and would always listen. He would turn up to training and even though he was the youngest, there was no carry-on from him — he was there to train and to learn. He was a delight to coach.”
With a seeming abundance of talent and endorsements like this, it could be that Anfield will start to see more of 16-year-old Doak, and Liverpool may end up having another star in the making.