Liverpool are among the clubs scouting Aston Villa youngster Carney Chukwuemeka, who has been described as the club’s CEO as “probably the best 16-year-old in England.”
The Reds’ quality-over-quantity shift at academy level under Alex Inglethorpe has seen the club acquire a host of top-level prospects in recent years.
Ki-Jana Hoever, Harvey Elliott, Vitezslav Jaros, Yasser Larouci, Billy Koumetio and Matteo Ritaccio are among those to have been brought in since numbers were cut by 15 percent in 2015, while Bobby Duncan has been and gone.
Barry Lewtas’ under-18s squad has been consistently strong as a result, while many youngsters have already made their first-team debuts either due to circumstance or by long-term design.
Elliott and Hoever are among those to now regularly train with the senior squad, and this is the approach encouraged as Liverpool bridge the divide between Kirkby and Melwood prior to the combination of first team and academy facilities.
One of those who could come in alongside the completion of the Kirkby redevelopment is Villa under-23s midfielder Chukwuemeka (wearing No. 21 in the images below).
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According to The Athletic, Liverpool have been scouting the 16-year-old along with both Man City and Man United, with Chukwuemeka yet to agree professional terms ahead of his 17th birthday later this year.
“There are no shortage of suitors ready to swoop if talks in the West Midlands cannot be resolved this summer,” Gregg Evans writes.
Chukwuemeka is already playing regularly with Villa’s U23s, and is part of an England under-17s squad that also includes Liverpool trio Elliott, James Norris and James Balagizi.
Evans quotes one scout as claiming “he’s the best player Villa have got coming through” and that “he can do everything in the midfield area,” while Villa chief executive Christian Purslow, formerly managing director at Liverpool, was even more effusive.
Purslow described Chukwuemeka as “probably the best 16-year-old in England,” adding that there is “absolutely no debate; he’s starting for the under-23s. That’s what you want with your 16-year-olds.”
Tying the teenager down to a long-term contract is said to be Villa’s “priority,” with the academy of the belief he is “the next player to pin their hopes on.”
Liverpool could find themselves in a similar position as they did in pursuit of Elliott last year if they further their interest in Chukwuemeka.
Elliott had already made his first-team debut for Fulham prior to his switch to Merseyside, but the prospect of a breakthrough under Jurgen Klopp convinced him to join the Reds, having not signed pro terms with the Cottagers.
The two clubs are yet to determine a compensation fee for Elliott, with one also required if Chukwuemeka does leave Villa at the end of the season.