LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's Rhys Williams during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0 and finished 3rd in the table. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rhys Williams savouring valuable time with “best set of defenders in the world”

Rhys Williams may not know exactly where he is playing his football in 2021/22, but the 20-year-old is ready to compete and learn alongside “the best set of defenders in the world.”

Williams shot out of obscurity last season having answered the crisis call after Jurgen Klopp saw his centre-back ranks besieged by injury.

A total of 19 appearances would come his way as he made his debut in both the Premier League and Champions League, with his presence helping the Reds to a third-place finish.

There was always set to be uncertainty over his short-term future, however, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all to return.

Usurping any of those names is hard enough before you then add new signing Ibrahima Konate into the mix, but Williams is approaching the season with an open mind and simply wants to improve – and he has the best role models to do just that.

“To try to replicate last season if I can. Maybe sneak a few more games in, but it’s going to be hard [because] we’ve got the three back who have been injured last season,” Williams told of his goals.

“But even if I can learn off them, that sets me in good stead for a few seasons down the line.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Rhys Williams after the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I’m training with the best set of defenders in the world in my opinion, and the best defender in the world in Virg. Any time I get with them is a gain.

“It’s massive [to have Gomez, Matip and Van Dijk back in training]. We had major issues last season at centre-back, which obviously led to me coming in and doing the best I could.

“But seeing them come back – they’re all big characters amongst the boys so having them back is a massive boost for the team.

“I’m the second-youngest there, there’s only Billy [Koumetio] younger than me, so anything that I can pick up off them… they’ve had a lot of experience, played a lot of games, so anything I can take from his [Konate’s] game, from Joe, Joel, Virg, is a boost for me.”

At just 20, there is plenty of room yet to grow but the suggestion is that it could be away from Liverpool this coming season with another loan spell widely expected.

A decision is not set in stone but Williams has a long-term future in mind at Anfield after getting his first taste at regular first-team action as a Red.

“Well, for now I’m just going to see what pre-season takes,” Williams added.

“I’m going to keep my head down and then if we go back and there’s not an opportunity here for me this season, then I’ll go and get minutes elsewhere and come back next season trying to push for a spot.”