Liverpool have taken Toronto FC youngster Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty on trial ahead of a possible summer transfer, but who is the 17-year-old currently training at Kirkby?
While there has been little talk of any incomings at Anfield in the January transfer window, the Reds are still working on at least one deal.
Marshall-Rutty has spent the past fortnight as a triallist as Liverpool’s training ground in Kirkby, with Tom Bogert of the official MLS website claiming he could leave his current club, Toronto FC, when he turns 18 in June.
He is not the first youngster Liverpool have taken on trial, of course, and for every Isaac Christie-Davies who earns a move there is a Cian Harries who heads elsewhere.
So while a deal is still up in the air, what do we know about Marshall-Rutty so far?
Who is Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty?
The youngest-ever player to be called up to the Canada national team, breaking the record set by Alphonso Davies upon his inclusion as a 16-year-old at the start of 2021.
Now 17, Marshall-Rutty is yet to make his senior debut for his country, but he has steadily grown into a first-team role for Toronto FC throughout the year.
Though born in Canada, he has German and Jamaican heritage, along with ties to the Mi’kmaq, who are the indigenous peoples of southeastern Canada.
He joined Toronto in 2016, after coming through the ranks with local side Brampton East SC and then Rush Canada.
Where does he play?
Marshall-Rutty is a hugely versatile young player who, with both Toronto in MLS and on loan with their third-tier side, has played in a variety of roles.
The teenager is predominantly a right winger, but has also played up front, as a central midfielder and at right-back.
Though he is listed as standing 5’7″ on Toronto FC’s official website, it appears he is still growing in size and now seems significantly taller.
While footage is scarce given his lack of experience, Marshall-Rutty looks to be a skilful direct attacker who is adept at tracking back and helping his side in defence.
In 11 MLS appearances last season – of which only four came as a starter – he laid on one assist, that being a simple pass for Richie Laryea’s consolation goal in the 4-2 defeat to CF Montreal to kick off the 2021 campaign.
What has been said about him?
In October, Marshall-Rutty was named among the Guardian‘s Next Generation 2021 list of 60 of the best young talents in world football.
Journalist Jaime F Macias described him as such: “A fast right winger, his crosses are exceptionally accurate and he can also turn inside and set up the forwards.”
In terms of his potential, Canada head coach John Herdman told Goal in February that the youngster possesses a “game-breaking personality.”
“He was able to impose himself in his first training camp,” Herdman said, “and show those X-Factor skills that he has, and allow his personality to come through.”
And upon signing Marshall-Rutty to a senior deal in 2020, Toronto general manager Ali Curtis said: “He is among the top young players in all of North America. He is an incredibly talented young man.
“While he’s only 15 years old, he plays the game in a very mature way…he has the potential to be an incredible player moving forward.”
Who has he connected with at Liverpool?
Well, the best player in the world, for one.
Marshall-Rutty’s time at Kirkby has been kept largely under wraps, as it should, with the player believed to have mainly worked with Barry Lewtas‘ under-23s.
Could a move to Anfield really happen?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to Marshall-Rutty’s position at Liverpool.
One being the club are unlikely to have taken him on trial if they were already convinced in signing him, but it could also be argued that the arrangement wouldn’t have been made if there wasn’t sufficient interest.
Given the complexity of scouting players during the pandemic, and certainly those still playing in the third tier of American football for much of 2021, it stands to reason that Liverpool would prefer to take a closer look before rubberstamping a deal.
A lot will depend on the impression Marshall-Rutty has made at Kirkby, but it is clear that the club have looked to roll the red carpet out for him.