Liverpool youngster Melkamu Frauendorf made a rare appearance in first-team training during the November international break. So who is the 17-year-old German?
It was a rare sight as the Reds returned to Kirkby on Tuesday, with Frauendorf taking his place alongside the likes of Thiago, Joel Matip and Sadio Mane.
While fellow academy players Tyler Morton and Kaide Gordon are more familiar with their surroundings within the senior setup, it was a priceless experience for their colleague as he joined the session.
Though it is not the first time Frauendorf has trained with the first team, his inclusion suggests that hopes are high for him within the halls of Kirkby.
So who is the youngster and what could Liverpool fans expect in the future?
Who is Melkamu Frauendorf?
As the Brexit deadline loomed, Liverpool sought to bring in a number of high-potential talents from across the world – before a ban on signing foreign players under the age of 18 came into effect.
Marcelo Pitaluga may have been the marquee arrival in that respect, but Frauendorf also came into Kirkby in the same summer as Mateusz Musialowski and Fabian Mrozek.
The youngster signed a scholarship deal with the club as he made the move from Hoffenheim in 2020, with the German side paid a nominal compensation fee.
Born in Ethiopia, Frauendorf has represented Germany throughout the age groups at youth level, and having captained their under-16s he recently made the step up to the under-18s ranks.
Frauendorf’s brother, 19-year-old right-back Melesse, still plays for Hoffenheim, and is currently with their reserve side.
Where does he play?
Frauendorf is primarily a midfielder, but is capable of occupying a variety of roles in both midfield and attack, which under-18s coach Marc Bridge-Wilkinson relies upon.
Often, he is fielded as part of a three-man unit in the middle of the park, but the youngster is also utilised on either wing and can fill in as a central striker.
He is swift and hardworking, with his overlapping runs into the box making him a useful supporting option for the likes of Harvey Blair and Oakley Cannonier.
After seven goals and four assists in 23 games in his first season on Merseyside, Frauendorf has so far scored four and assisted four in 12 outings this time around.
In the academy, only Cannonier (14) has scored more, while Conor Bradley is the sole player to tally more assists (five).
What have coaches said?
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo in 2020, Frauendorf’s former Hoffenheim youth coach Danny Galm described him as a “special player”:
“Mel is a very flexible player. He is straightforward with a good technique and very, very good endurance.
“He didn’t score the most goals, but he was involved in almost all offensive actions.
“For me, he was a very important player, who often initiated decisive moments with his dynamic and straight dribbling.
“I’m not a fan of comparing players to others but Mel is a special player. He is fast and has good endurance, and he wants to learn, but remains creative.
“He will develop physically in the next months and will grow at Liverpool.”
Why was he in training?
Put simply, to pad out the numbers.
During international breaks, Jurgen Klopp turns to elite development coach Vitor Matos to recommend the best from the academy to join his senior players not on duty.
This month, Frauendorf joined Musialowski, James Norris, Jarell Quansah and Max Woltman in training with Matip, Mane, Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ibrahima Konate and Nat Phillips.
It is an indication of Matos’ faith in his ability, though no conclusions can be drawn at this stage as to whether he will step up on a regular basis.
Could we see more of him in the future?
There is every chance Frauendorf could receive more first-team exposure in the weeks and months to come, particularly as the injuries continue to pile up in midfield.
It is often the case that a youngster steps up to fill in for a senior player with the intention to then drop back down to the academy ranks, only to make a big enough impression on Klopp to stay there full-time.
Morton is a prime example, and with Frauendorf only due to celebrate his 18th birthday in January, there is ample time for him to make the breakthrough.