Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan top Liverpool’s goalscoring charts this season, forming an immediate, clinical partnership up front for the Reds’ U18s side.
Fifteen games into the season, Glatzel (12) and Duncan (11) have struck more times than any other player in Liverpool’s U18s, U19s, U23s and first-team ranks.
With the U18s and U19s having won 13 of their games so far this season in all competitions, the duo are playing a key role.
And perhaps most promising is that they are doing so despite not having played alongside one another until Duncan’s arrival at the club in the summer.
Pre-season served as a fresh start for both Glatzel and Duncan, with the former restored after a injury-plagued campaign that saw him start just twice for Steven Gerrard’s U18s and the latter joining from Man City.
Glatzel hit the ground running in pre-season, scoring against Burton Albion, MTK Budapest (twice) and Hertha Berlin, thriving with the responsibility of captaincy.
He followed that up with a brace in his first competitive outing of the season: a 6-1 league win at Sunderland that also saw Duncan net on his debut for the club.
In just under two months, the pair had both scored seven times, and speaking to the club’s official website, U18s manager Barry Lewtas hailed their partnership:
“We spoke to all the centre-forwards about combinations, that means scoring goals, key passes, assists, so the relationships are building up nicely.
“If one of them isn’t scoring then the other one is.”
With 16-year-old Fidel O’Rourke—who himself has scored three times in seven games for the young Reds this season—serving as a capable alternative, Lewtas’ side quickly forged an unpredictable, devastating attack.
Lewtas’ emphasis on “combinations” serves to highlight the blend of qualities Glatzel and Duncan bring to the U18s’ attack.
The newly promoted coach has largely deployed his side in a 4-1-3-2 formation this season, with the use of two strikers, supported by three attacking midfielders, fuelling a positive approach.
Glatzel and Duncan have started alongside each other in eight of the U18s’ 11 games so far, with O’Rourke partnering the former once and the latter twice.
Two of O’Rourke’s starts have come in the Premier League Cup, and tellingly, two came before UEFA Youth League games for the U19s, for which Glatzel has been a regular in a 4-3-3.
At U18 level, the focus is on the combination of Glatzel the relentless, creative centre-forward and Duncan the opportunistic, drifting poacher.
They are clearly instructed to operate primarily around the penalty area, with Lewtas keeping faith in his midfield to keep their shape and thread passes into the final third.
So far, this has paid off: the U18s sit second in the league’s North Division, just one point behind leaders Everton with a game in hand, having scored 30 and conceded 13.
Their next game is at home to fourth-placed Derby on November 23.
More than half of their goals have come from Glatzel and Duncan, with the latter also laying on three assists—one for O’Rourke, in the 4-1 win over Newcastle; and two for Glatzel, in the 5-1 thrashing of West Brom and the 3-1 loss at home to United.
Though defeat to United in August was a blow, Liverpool’s standing in the league table has been aided by a crucial victory in the Merseyside derby this month.
The opening goalscorer that day at Kirkby was Duncan, while Glatzel added a goal of his own after half-time, with his strike partner taking to Twitter after the game to relish the win:
— Bobby Duncan (@bobbyduncan999) November 1, 2018
Duncan also scored a last-minute winner against his old club, City, in October, and surging towards the away dugout in celebration, with his finger to his lips, his passion was clear.
This affiliation with the city—and perhaps for Duncan in particular, as Gerrard’s cousin—should only spur them on further as they continue their progress on Merseyside.
Since neither turn 18 until next year, it would be remiss to compare Glatzel or Duncan to their first-team counterparts at this stage.
But Jurgen Klopp is certainly aware of their talents, having included them in his training group at Melwood during the October international break.
Interestingly, Glatzel remained with the senior squad alongside Lewis for the final session before the 1-0 win at Huddersfield Town, gaining invaluable experience.
Also first choice in the UEFA Youth League, he is arguably ahead of Duncan in the pecking order, and boasts a long-term admirer in the shape of Klopp’s new assistant, Pepijn Lijnders.
It may not be long before either are promoted to the U23s squad, though it can be argued that their development would be better served in a devastating U18s group at this stage.
And similarly, it can only be a matter of time before they are recognised at international level with the England U18s—especially with Glatzel also eligible for Germany through his parents.
Either way, if their excellent form continues, Glatzel and Duncan can become cornerstones of Liverpool’s academy.