As it stands, Billy Koumetio is currently Liverpool’s next in line at centre-back, and his performances in pre-season have left his senior team-mates “raving about” him.
It came as something of a surprise to see Koumetio’s name on the teamsheet for Saturday’s Community Shield.
Koumetio did not make it onto the field despite a change of centre-back, with Fabinho instead partnering Virgil van Dijk when Joe Gomez shifted to right-back, but his inclusion was telling nonetheless.
Having been a new face to the squad for their pre-season training camp in Austria, the Frenchman has made a big impact on Klopp and his players over the past two weeks.
According to The Athletic‘s James Pearce, Koumetio has “really impressed Klopp” during his time with the first team, and the squad have been “raving about how good he is.”
“Koumetio has certainly enhanced his reputation,” Pearce wrote in his post-Community Shield Q&A.
He added that while there is a habit of “over-hyping kids” who break through like Liverpool’s new No. 89, “there’s been a buzz around Koumetio for a while.”
Pearce explained that Klopp’s decision in naming Koumetio on his bench over the likes of Phillips, Van den Berg and Hoever was “based on pre-season so far,” which is a measure of how the teenager has caught his manager’s eye.
In fact, Koumetio was brought on ahead of Van den Berg in the second half of the 2-2 draw with Salzburg, and replaced the Dutchman after just 25 minutes on the pitch in the 3-0 win over Stuttgart.
He is still expected to link up with the Liverpool under-23s at the start of 2020/21 proper, but while Koumetio was part of the Community Shield squad, two days earlier Van den Berg was instead playing, and scoring, for Barry Lewtas’ side in their 4-1 friendly win over Carlisle.
With Van den Berg and Hoever both under consideration for a loan move this summer, it could be that Koumetio’s application will influence Klopp into sanctioning their temporary exits.
Boasting a similar frame to Van Dijk, the former US Orleans defender already looks the part, and his performances in friendlies and in training so far this summer have seemingly convinced the first team of Koumetio’s quality.