Liverpool’s academy side is currently flowing with very promising talents, one of which is teenage winger Jordan Ibe who signed from Wycombe just over a year ago. Ben Twelves saw him grab his first goal in professional football – as a 15 year-old!
This season we have seen a number of academy players introduced to the first team – partly due to necessity, largely due to the club and Brendan Rodgers’ shared philosophy on youth development, and partly courtesy of excellent years of work by Rafa Benitez, Rodolfo Borrell and Pep Segura.
Academy graduates such as Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, Martin Kelly and Suso have become regular fixes in the first team squad. There have also been appearances in the first XI set-up over recent years for John Flanagan and Jack Robinson, along with the introduction of Connor Coady, Jerome Sinclair and Adam Morgan this season. And with the quality at the academy, there are certainly more to come, one of which I am sure will be Jordon Ibe.
A pacey and powerful player, full of skill and a work rate to match, it won’t be too long until we see Ibe, who can be deployed as a winger or striker, following in the footsteps of Sterling and Suso. He recently captained The Red’s Under-18’s side in the Alkass International Cup competition and was involved with Liverpool’s pre-season trip to America, an exciting surprise to many but not to those who had seen him play.
Ibe was signed by Liverpool from League Two side Wycombe Wanderers in December 2011 for an undisclosed fee (reportedly £500k initially, and beating off interest from Man United, Spurs and Arsenal). Ibe made his debut for Wycombe in a Carling Cup match against Colchester United in August 2011 aged just 15 years and 209 days, and on 15th October, made his league debut for the Chairboys, becoming the youngest player to turn out for Wycombe in a Football League match. In total, Ibe made 11 appearances and scored once.
I was at the game against Sheffield Wednesday, the day of his first goal and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to work out how a boy so young had this quality. He burst past two defenders, showing incredible pace and power and unleashed an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box which flew into the top corner. I hoped straightaway that Liverpool would look into signing this ‘wonderkid’. This wasn’t a fluke goal, his overall play demonstrated that. He led from the front for Wycombe and caused all sorts of problems for the experienced centre backs who didn’t have an answer to him. The occasion didn’t bother him, showing he certainly has the bravery, desire and courage alongside his undoubted ability, to succeed at a much higher level. The fact that Ibe was featuring regularly for Wycombe highlighted the ability he already has and the thought of his potential is frightening.
There are already supporters of the club proclaiming that the 17 year old will be a future star, something I agree with. Despite there being a high number of fantastic prospects at the clubs’ academy in Kirkby, for me Jordon Ibe is the pick of the lot. Having been delighted when we signed him, I now can’t wait to see another top talent playing on the fields of Anfield Road.