Liverpool’s academy has been the starting place for a number of iconic careers, but how many have played at least 50 games for the club since the year 2000?
Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Steve McManaman may be the first few names you think of when reflecting on success stories from Liverpool’s youth ranks.
In recent years, Trent Alexander-Arnold has added his name to that list having won every trophy with his boyhood club by the age of 23.
But is he the exception to what once felt like a production line of talent from the academy?
Jurgen Klopp has given youth the chance but making the step up and then establishing yourself as a regular member of the first team is no easy feat. Unfortunately, there are more heartbreaking tales than success stories.
Only eight academy graduates have played 50 senior games since 2000, and just two remain at Anfield.
LFC debut: April 2011 (18 years old)
Where are they now: Retired
Flanagan was one of the youngest players in club history to be allocated a first-team squad number when he was handed the No. 38 in 2010/11, a debut season that ended with seven appearances.
It was not until 2013/14 that he made his breakthrough, though, and christened the ‘Scouse Cafu’. Injuries would soon take their toll and he was released by Liverpool in 2018 before retiring in 2022, aged 29, due to ongoing knee issues.
LFC debut: December 2008 (20 years old)
Where are they now: LFC academy coach
The captain of the under-18s FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2007, Spearing had to wait until 2010/11 and 2011/12 to have his ‘breakthrough’ but quickly found a place in the squad hard to maintain.
Spearing joined the club at just seven years old and after spells at Bolton, Blackpool and Tranmere in the years after his Liverpool exit, he returned to the club in 2022 to take on a coaching role – he’s even registered to play for the under-21s.
LFC debut: May 2013 (17 years old)
Where are they now: Free agent
The Reds signed Ibe as a 16-year-old and on his Premier League debut in 2013, he laid on an assist for Philippe Coutinho‘s winner against QPR.
There was plenty of excitement at what Ibe could offer but he was in and out of the squad and could not capitalise on the opportunity Raheem Sterling’s exit presented.
A £15 million transfer to Bournemouth in 2016 materialised but in the years since Ibe has struggled on and off the pitch and has opened up about his battle with depression.
LFC debut: December 2008 (18 years old)
Where are they now: Wigan (Loan)
A versatile defender who rose through the ranks at Liverpool and showed potential of being a reliable option, but injuries continually derailed his development and the chances passed him by.
After 17 years at the club, Crystal Palace signed Kelly for a fee in the region of £2 million in 2014, he went on to make 148 appearances for the Eagles before leaving for West Brom in 2022.
LFC debut: August 2008 (22 years old)
Where are they now: Retired
Warnock experienced a different pathway to the rest on this list, graduating from the academy and making his senior debut for two other clubs, on loan, before making his maiden Liverpool appearance.
His Reds debut came at aged 20 and after three seasons in the team, he was sold to Blackburn in January 2007 and went on to play for seven other clubs before retiring in 2018. He’s been a regular on LFCTV in recent years.
LFC debut: January 2019 (17 years old)
Where are they now: First-team player
The second academy graduate to eclipse the 50-game mark under Klopp but Jones’ progress has been stunted by a series of injuries, some of which have been outright bizarre.
A bright talent who was a cut above the rest in the youth setup but still has plenty to develop if he is to become a reliable and consistent member of the first team.
LFC debut: March 2012 (17 years old)
Where are they now: Chelsea
Sterling joined the club as a 15-year-old from QPR and quickly attracted attention for his proficiency at youth level and went on to make his debut for Kenny Dalglish in 2012.
Under Brendan Rodgers is where he made his mark and played a significant role in the title push in 2013/14 before it all turned sour and he joined Man City in 2015 for £49 million, banking the club a healthy profit.
Whereas Alexander-Arnold is the prime example of an academy talent forging out a long career at the club, Sterling represents the potential of seeing a sizeable return on the investment into a young player.
LFC debut: October 2016 (18 years old)
Where are they now: Integral first-team player
The poster boy for Liverpool’s academy since the turn of the millennium. He’s already in the club’s top 83 appearances makers by the age of 24 and has won every trophy possible.
Alexander-Arnold joined the club’s academy when he was just six and went on to captain both the under-16s and under-18s, moving from midfield to right-back and never looking back.
A Scouser who has shown what is possible.