Liverpool’s latest signing, Dominic Solanke, has quickly made waves after playing a key role in helping England win the Under-20 World Cup.
Due to join the Reds at the start of July, Solanke is already busy creating an aura of expectancy around his ability.
Having so far played just one senior game in England, with Chelsea, the majority of his football so far has come either at youth age groups—for club and country—or in the Dutch Eredivisie, on loan at Vitesse two seasons ago.
Even so, Solanke served notice of his quality and gave Liverpool fans a taster of what might be to come with a virtuoso display at the FIFA under-20 World Cup which won him the tournament’s Golden Ball award for best player.
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) June 12, 2017
Solanke’s all-round game was visible during the competition, not just goalscoring, and his coaches have alluded to this.
“That is a really pleasing thing about him,” England’s out-of-possession coach Andy Edwards told Adam Bate of Sky Sports. “Defending starts from the front and he is aware of that.
“You cannot afford to carry anyone defensively and we certainly don’t. While forwards are the match-winners and they get the glory, the other side of it is important too. The best teams all have that.”
Jurgen Klopp will doubtless have been impressed by Solanke’s off-the-ball work as much as his technique, something the Reds boss requires all his front men to possess.
Solanke’s upbringing as a young player will have instilled that pre-requisite to work hard. Former youth coach at Chelsea Adi Viveash told Bate he believes the striker is among the finest he has worked with.
“I have been very lucky as I have worked with some very talented players. But Dominic is right up there at the top of that list. He is an outstanding footballer.
“He’s intelligent and has great movement. He plays like a No. 9 and a No. 10 put together.
“Without being disrespectful, he reminds me of Teddy Sheringham but quicker.”
It’s high praise, but being a prospect only takes you so far. Viveash is aware that Solanke has to now push on, using his success with England’s under-20s as a springboard.
If you are elevated to a status where you do so well so young, it gets you to a level where you need to be playing senior football.
He did that with Vitesse. Obviously, there were certain parts of that in terms of going to a different country that I think he found difficult.
People expected him to go there and score more goals than he did. Since that time it has been frustrating for him.
Edwards has the final say, but it’s clear that talent is only one part of Solanke’s game.
“He is a really good, solid lad who is very hard-working, very humble and very talented. I think he is going to have a very good career,”
“He is going from one big club to another big club but I am sure he wants to be playing first-team football as soon as he can because he is a player of massive potential.”
Reds fans will hope that potential is realised during his time at Anfield.