It was a mixed campaign for Liverpool’s academy as the under-18s shone and the under-23s struggled for consistency, but big progress was made regardless.
The Reds’ focus on their young talents has been underlined by significant investment into the redevelopment of their Kirkby training ground, to encompass all age groups.
Work on the facility, which is set to conclude in time for pre-season next year, will allow the first team and academy to work in closer proximity, in theory providing a clearer pathway for the club’s youngsters.
Before that, however, the work of the likes of Neil Critchley and Barry Lewtas as U23s and U18s managers is particularly key.
Critchley led his side through a difficult start to the season to finish fourth in Premier League 2’s Division 1, while the U18s only missed out on the title on goal difference, as Derby lifted the trophy.
Here we take a look at the key stats from the 2018/19, including appearances, goals and assists.
Bobby Duncan followed up his free transfer from Man City to make 43 appearances across the age groups for his boyhood club, establishing himself as one of the stars of the academy.
The free-scoring striker played the majority of his football with the U18s (29), while also featuring for the U19s in the UEFA Youth League (seven) and making his first forays into U23s football (seven).
Fellow U18s regulars Rhys Williams (40) and Leighton Clarkson (35) made the second and third-most appearances.
For the U23s, George Johnston (30) was a near ever-present, with Adam Lewis (27) just behind and Isaac Christie-Davies and Glen McAuley (24) sharing third.
Williams and Lewis were joined by Vitezslav Jaros, Neco Williams and Jake Cain in starting all seven of the U19s’ games in Europe.
And Clarkson tied with Elijah Dixon-Bonner for the most outings for the U18s (both 30), with Duncan one short.
Rhys Williams was a pillar of consistency throughout the campaign, and started 37 times in all competitions—including in every outing for the U18s (26) and U19s (seven), and four times for the U23s.
Bobby Duncan (33) made the second-most starts, with full-back duo Adam Lewis and Neco Williams joint-third (32).
George Johnston (30) led the way for the U23s, followed by Lewis (25) and Pedro Chirivella (21), despite the Spaniard departing for Extremadura UD in January.
Despite Williams’ availability for the U18s, Duncan (28) actually made more starts, with the centre-back instead tied with Leighton Clarkson (26) just behind.
Most Sub Apps
Skilful winger Luis Longstaff (15) came off the bench more times than any other academy player in 2018/19, followed by Elijah Dixon-Bonner (13) and the soon-to-exit Glen McAuley (12).
McAuley was Critchley’s go-to substitute for the U23s, with left-back Tony Gallacher (eight) not far off and fellow striker Liam Millar (six) making an impact before his loan to Kilmarnock.
Five of Longstaff’s cameos came for the U19s, with Bobby Duncan and Leighton Clarkson level in second (four).
Dixon-Bonner and new arrival Matteo Ritaccio (both 10) were the U18s’ most-used subs, followed by striker and stand-in captain Fidel O’Rourke (nine).
Bobby Duncan scored an incredible 30 goals to lead the charts for the academy in his first season, with strike partner Paul Glatzel (29) just one behind and Rafa Camacho (12) making up the top three.
Camacho (eight) scored most for the U23s, followed by Matty Virtue (seven) who joined Blackpool mid-season, while Liam Millar, Glen McAuley and Curtis Jones (all four) were even in joint-third.
The Portuguese (four) also top-scored for the U19s, with Jones and Millar (both three) on his heels.
A key factor behind the U18s’ title challenge and success in the FA Youth Cup, Duncan (28) and Glatzel (26) both broke the 25-goal mark for Lewtas’ side, with Fidel O’Rourke (seven) way behind.
Incredibly, as well as scoring the most goals for Liverpool’s academy, Bobby Duncan also created the most with 16, ahead of Jake Cain (13) and Rafa Camacho (12).
Critchley’s MVP, Camacho (eight) was unsurprisingly the U23s’ most creative, with Adam Lewis (five) second and Isaac Christie-Davies and Pedro Chirivella (four) just behind.
Camacho (four) also laid on the most goals for the U19s, with Lewis and Curtis Jones (three) similarly productive.
Sixteen of Duncan’s assists came for the U18s, while all 13 of Cain’s did, with deep-lying midfielder Leighton Clarkson (10) also teeing up his fair share.
Most Clean Sheets
The U23s only kept eight clean sheets from 31 games in 2018/19, with the U19s recording two in seven games in the UEFA Youth League and the U18s shutting out their opposition 10 times from 32.
This means Vitezslav Jaros comfortably kept the most clean sheets of any goalkeeper, with 10 in 28 appearances.
Shamal George had the next-best record with four in eight games, having returned from a loan spell with Tranmere Rovers in January.
Caoimhin Kelleher (two in 13), Kai McKenzie-Lyle (one in two) and Kamil Grabara (one in eight) made up the rest of Critchley’s four-strong U23s contingent.
Two of Jaros’ clean sheets came for the U19s, with nine for the U18s, while Dan Atherton kept one in seven outings, including six starts for Lewtas’ side.
Five players made a solitary academy appearance in 2018/19: Divock Origi, Sheyi Ojo, Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez and goalkeeper Luca Ashby-Hammond, who joined on a one-game emergency loan from Fulham.
Two of the academy’s top five goalscorers left the club in January, with Matty Virtue and Liam Millar both netting seven times before joining Blackpool permanently and Kilmarnock on loan respectively.
While only three players scored 10 or more goals, five recorded 10 or more assists: Bobby Duncan (16), Jake Cain (13), Rafa Camacho (12), Leighton Clarkson (10) and Paul Glatzel (10).
Eight players made 10 or more appearances without any as a substitute: Camacho, Virtue, George Johnston, Vitezslav Jaros, Curtis Jones, Pedro Chirivella, Caoimhin Kelleher and Connor Randall.
Fifty-five players featured for Liverpool’s academy sides in 2018/19, 157 goals were scored and 88 conceded, with 20 clean sheets kept.
Most-Used Academy XI (4-4-2): Jaros; N.Williams, R.Williams, Johnston, Lewis; Longstaff, Clarkson, Dixon-Bonner, Larouci; Glatzel, Duncan