Liverpool’s academy players are being taught to work hard and stay humble, with a message that they must understand the club’s supporters.
The Reds have recently introduced a £40,000 per-year maximum wage for their academy players under the age of 17, while also cutting the number of youth players by 15% in order to focus on quality over quantity.
With a clear pathway to the first-team available to the talented youngsters under Jurgen Klopp, the club seek to educate the players on the dangers of living within the bubble of football.
“The biggest problem is that you can have too much, too soon,” explains academy director Alex Inglethorpe to CNN.
“We are in a very privileged position and you can exist in something of a bubble. Young players have to try hard and be humble. They have to understand that the man on the street who watches the first team play is different to them.”
Liverpool’s academy staff ensure the young players are educated about more than just football and regularly partake in community events such as attending local homeless shelters, while earlier this year the Reds’ under 14s and 15s visited Auschwitz during a tournament in Poland.
With the gap between the man in the stands and the man on the pitch now greater than ever, Inglethorpe explains how the club seek to get across the message to their young players.
“It’s really important to for them to understand what it’s like to play for those supporters who turn up every week and what that badge represents to the fans here and across the world.
“It can be daunting and it takes a special kind of character to play for a club like this and handle that level of expectation. You can’t hide that.”
After years of struggling to produce talent, the work done by Inglethorpe since he came into the club appears to be begging to bear fruit, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn getting their first team debuts so far this season.
With long-term plans being discussed to merge the academy and first-team training sites, Liverpool will hopefully return to producing academy players with an understanding of the club.