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Liverpool take ex-Barcelona defender Juanma on trial for pre-season

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Juanma, who came through the ranks as a youngster at Barcelona, has joined Michael Beale’s Liverpool U23s on trial.

The versatile defender, whose full name is Juan Manuel Garcia, arrives on an initial one-week trial, with Beale looking to flesh out his ranks ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

The 19-year-old featured in the young Reds’ 4-1 win over Rhyl FC on Sunday afternoon, starting at left-back.

Impressing from the start with his balanced, all-round play, Juanma laid on an assist for Brooks Lennon, sending in an inch-perfect cross for the USA forward to head home.

Juanma most recently turned out for the Barcelona U19s in 2015/16, making 17 appearances in the UEFA Youth League.

Fourteen of these came at centre-back, serving as captain of Gabri Garcia’s side on six occasions towards the end of the season.

Despite this, Juanma left Barcelona on the expiry of his contract this summer, with the Reds moving quick to invite him to join Beale’s ranks on a temporary basis.

“Juanma is a boy who’s come in to spend the week with us with a view to maybe seeing more of him,” Beale told the Liverpool Echo on Sunday.

“He’s only had a couple of days training with us, speaks very little English but you can see a very good player. He had a fantastic assist for Brooks Lennon.

“He was at Barcelona so we’ll have a look and see how we go with him. He’s played with Madger Gomes and Pedro Chirivella with Spain so we’re quite familiar with him.

“He’s very versatile and can play in different positions because technically he’s very good.

“I quite like him, he reminds he a little bit of someone like a Pablo Zabaleta-type player, a nice player.”

Comparison with Manchester City defender Zabaleta is a favourable one, and if Liverpool can secure a talent of that calibre it would be a hugely positive move.

Time will tell whether Juanma and fellow trialist Nathan Phillips sufficiently impress Beale and the academy staff, but the acquisition of another La Masia graduate should be a shrewd one.

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