LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool's James McConnell during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

5 clubs are interested in Liverpool midfielder – youngsters face transfer choice

It felt fitting that Jurgen Klopp’s final season in charge of Liverpool should be defined by the contributions of so many young players.

The German arrived at Anfield nine years ago with a reputation for showing faith in youth, and built on it in blooding the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Neco Williams during his stay.

As such, it was only right that he signed off by doing more of the same, underlining the strength of the foundations he would leave behind in using several kids across an injury-hit campaign.

The biggest strides of all were no doubt taken by Jarell Quansah, who performed so well following his emergence that he only narrowly missed out on the England squad for this summer’s Euros.

Conor Bradley, too, returned from a loan spell in League One to make a remarkable impact, ensuring a lengthy absence for Alexander-Arnold was barely felt.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 28, 2021: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah (L) and Conor Bradley during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Leicester City FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But, while that pair are now firmly primed for further first-team involvement next term, there are other youngsters who made similarly big contributions whose futures are harder to predict.

Take, for example, Bobby Clark, who clocked up 12 impressive appearances in all competitions as a back-up in midfield.

While the 19-year-old would doubtless be similarly useful to Arne Slot this time around, there is a case to be made that his long-term development would be better served by a loan rather than waiting around for an injury crisis.

The club and its rising young players must make their decisions with their individual capabilities and careers at the front of their minds.


McConnell wanted by 5 clubs

And the same could well be true for fellow midfielder James McConnell, a player who arguably single-handedly turned last season’s League Cup final in Liverpool’s favour.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's James McConnell during the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It should not be forgotten that the Reds had been hanging on in the final moments of normal time at Wembley before McConnell came on to take the game by the scruff of the neck and play a key role in the build-up to Virgil van Dijk’s winner.

With a performance like that on his CV, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Newcastle native is already attracting loan interest from Hull City, Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, Huddersfield Town and Birmingham City.

But it remains to be seen whether, following Klopp’s departure, the club will move away from its previous plan to send the teenager out on loan this term.

With no clarification from Slot or sporting director Richard Hughes on such matters yet forthcoming, the only certainty is that pre-season will be a decisive period for not just Clark and McConnell, but also the likes of Jayden Danns, Trey Nyoni and Lewis Koumas.

It certainly works in those players’ favour that the new manager, much like the old one, has shown a desire to develop talent prior to making the move to Liverpool.

But they also represent the first test of whether Slot’s principles can withstand the pressure of moving to one of the biggest clubs in world football, where one bad result is considered an unmitigated disaster.

For now, all we can know is that Slot’s first mistake would be to squander the legacy left to him by Klopp, one that is embodied by this group of gifted youngsters.