LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 15, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Bobby Clark warms-up during the UEFA Youth League Group B Matchday 1 game between Liverpool FC Under19's and AC Milan Under 19's at the Liverpool Academy. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp and Lijnders already “big admirers” after working with Bobby Clark

There could be big things ahead for Liverpool’s newest signing Bobby Clark, with Jurgen Klopp and Pepijn Lijnders already said to be “big admirers” after working with him.

Clark officially joined the Reds from Newcastle in August, and has already featured twice for the Liverpool under-18s, scoring on his debut against Nottingham Forest.

The 16-year-old, son of former Mapgies midfielder Lee Clark, was also on the bench for the UEFA Youth League opener against AC Milan, having settled in quickly at Kirkby.

He seems primed for a fast-tracked rise through the ranks, similar to the likes of Harvey Elliott and Kaide Gordon, though much will depend on how he applies himself on and off the pitch.

Klopp has already taken a look at Clark in first-team training, as part of a young group padding out the numbers during the international break.

And according to The Athletic‘s Caoimhe O’Neill, both the manager and his assistant Pepijn Lijnders are said to be “big admirers” of the versatile attacker.

It was Klopp who, along with academy director Alex Inglethorpe, helped convince Clark to join Liverpool ahead of Man United, Man City, Tottenham and Leeds, with visits to Kirkby and Anfield helping him make the decision.

Interestingly, O’Neill notes how United’s signing of Ethan Ennis from Liverpool earlier in the summer financed the deal.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 16, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Ethan Ennis celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Youth Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC Under-18's and Sutton United FC Under-18's at the Liverpool Academy. Liverpool won 6-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ennis swapped Merseyside for Manchester in a deal worth £750,000 rising to £1.5 million, plus a sell-on clause, with “almost identical” terms agreed with Newcastle by assistant sporting director Julian Ward.

It is a sizeable fee for a player who, unlike Gordon at Derby, did not make his first-team debut for Newcastle – nor, despite Steve Bruce’s protests after the deal’s completion, was he close to a breakthrough.

Along with sessions under Klopp and Lijnders, Clark has also worked with both Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, part-time coaches at Kirkby, since his arrival.

Liverpool appear to have taken a shift in their approach to youth recruitment in recent years, with Inglethorpe presiding in a quality-over-quantity stance.

A focus on homegrown talent is encouraged, with Clark the latest example, joining an U18s side that also includes the likes of James Balagizi, Luca Stephenson and Oakley Cannonier.