Liverpool have benefitted from the financial plight of League Two side Notts County by signing one of their most talented youngsters, Jack Bearne.
County are believed to be in debt of around £500,000, and struggled to pay their players’ wages in November, requiring help from the Football League to do so.
This is a worryingly familiar scenario for lower-tier sides, and County are looking to offload some of their players to avoid spiralling into further crisis.
One of these is confirmed to be Bearne, who will join up with his new club in April of next year.
County have revealed they received a fee for the youngster, who made his debut for the club’s U18s side when he was 14, and “will further benefit as he progresses at Anfield.”
The fee is believed to be around £150,000, which serves as a sizeable portion of their debt.
The young forward will likely join up with Des Maher’s U16s squad, and could work under the tutelage of Steven Gerrard, who is rumoured to be joining the club’s academy staff in 2017.
Proud to be a red? pic.twitter.com/5T9o5x1ZQT
— Jack Bearne (@jakkbearne10) December 16, 2016
Liverpool already signed another promising young teenager this season in Emeka Obi, with the 6’5″ centre-back, also 15, joining from League One outfit Bury.
Unlike Bearne, Obi had already made his debut for the Bury first team, coming on as a substitute against Morecambe in the EFL Trophy in August.
Obi was described by Bury manager David Flitcroft as the best 15-year-old talent “in the entire country,” with Liverpool clearly identifying the finest youngsters from the lower leagues.
Academy director Alex Inglethorpe has been overseeing a shift in emphasis at Kirkby, opting for quality over quantity.
This has seen the former Tottenham Hotspur youth coach cut down the numbers in the Reds’ academy ranks significantly, with the enlisting of high-potential youngsters in their place.
Working with Jurgen Klopp and Pepijn Lijnders, Inglethorpe will be hoping to see some of his young stars make their way into the first team in the years to come.
But for the likes of Bearne and Obi, that rightly remains a far distant future.