Liverpool FC’s academy are cutting the number of players they have on their books, seeking to focus on quality over quantity.
In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, academy director Alex Inglethorpe explained: “The changes started last season. We had around 235/240 before, it’s just under 200 boys now and that figure will head south still.
“The focus here now isn’t on having a specific number in each age group, it’s around wanting a specific level of quality in each age group.”
Former academy director Frank McParland, who left the club in November 2013, previously explained that it was FSG’s intention to have 50% of the first-team squad come through the academy.
Whether this new approach will see that aim realised only time will tell.
Former boss Brendan Rodgers handed debuts to 12 academy players during his tenure at Anfield, but only six of those remain at the club (Jordan Rossiter, Jerome Sinclair, Jordon Ibe, Brad Smith, Pedro Chirivella and Joao Teixeira). Three of the 12 are currently out on loan (Andre Wisdom, Jordan Williams and Samed Yesil).
Of all those 12, most were signed from other clubs in their mid-to-late teens (Wisdom, Yesil, Ibe, Sinclair, Teixeira, Chirivella were all signed for sizeable fees).
A host of youngsters, such as Connor Randall (handed his debut by Jurgen Klopp last month vs Bournemouth), Sheyi Ojo (on loan at Wolves), Ryan McLaughlin (on loan at Aberdeen), Ryan Kent (on loan at Coventry), and Sergi Canos (on loan at Brentford) are expected to get their chance at some point under Klopp.
Liverpool’s changed approach at a youth level also reflects the club’s approach at the top, where reports following Klopp’s appointment suggested the Reds are similarly looking for quality over quantity in the transfer market from now on.
That could mean better quality signings coming in, with more focus on academy products being involved in the first-team squad rather than being loaned out.