Tactics: How Klopp’s kids can fit into Slot’s Liverpool – 7 roles explained

Jurgen Klopp left behind an enviable generation of academy talent at Liverpool, but where will those outstanding youngsters fit into Arne Slot‘s system?

‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ was the mantra for Klopp’s Liverpool.

A generation of talent broke into the first team in 2023/24, including a dramatic Carabao Cup final win that ended with six academy players on the pitch.

Now Slot is the man to impress. Having given 12,334 minutes to academy talent at Feyenoord in the league-winning 2022/23 season, he’s certainly open to working with young blood.

So how might each of these young stars fit into Slot’s Liverpool?

READ FIRST: Arne Slot tactics: Feyenoord system and how Liverpool FC could set up


Harvey Elliott

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 5, 2024: Harvey Elliott of Liverpool celebrates 4-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Photo by Ryan Brown/Propaganda)

Age: 21
LFC appearances: 119

We’ll start with an easy one.

Elliott has fully broken through now, playing a vital role in Liverpool’s unlikely title challenge of 2023/24.

The boyhood Liverpool fan can play as a No. 8, a No. 10 or a right winger in Slot’s system, and has shown real quality both in his performances and his end product – notching 11 assists in all competitions in the season just gone.

I only include him as a reminder that, incredibly, he’s still only 21.

Role under Slot? The new head coach will love his versatility, just like Klopp.


Jarell Quansah

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-1, 11-2 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 21
LFC appearances: 33

Composure on the ball (mistake at Old Trafford aside) and dominance in defensive duels saw Quansah leap from a League One loan to 33 senior appearances.

By the end of the campaign he’d overtaken Ibrahima Konate as the preferred partner to Virgil van Dijk.

It’s that ability to play out that will appeal most to Slot.

The new gaffer is happy to play forwards quickly once the space is available, but the buildup unit will see a lot of the ball at first – moving it around to encourage pressure and create space inside the opponent’s block.

The centre-backs are also asked to play progressive passes forwards when the opportunity arises.

For all his undoubted talents, Konate is not renowned for this. Quansah may keep his place in the starting lineup as a result.

Role under Slot? Battling to stay Van Dijk’s first-choice partner.


Conor Bradley

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, November 30, 2023: Liverpool's Conor Bradley after the UEFA Europa League Group E match day 5 game between Liverpool FC and LASK at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 20
LFC appearances: 28

Bradley well and truly arrived in 2023/24.

The right-back went from Player of the Year at Bolton to scoring his first Anfield goal and starting a Wembley cup final (both against Chelsea, funnily enough).

Given his chance when Trent Alexander-Arnold went out injured, the Northern Irishman was so good that the team’s system pivoted around him.

Out went the inverted right-back and in came the lung-busting, overlapping Bradley to press high up the pitch and punctuate moves in the final third.

This is not how Slot typically uses his full-backs. He relies on width in attack from his wingers, with full-backs more likely to stay deeper and more central.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 31, 2024: Liverpool's Conor Bradley sprints through to score the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is because, if the ball is turned over, the full-backs are closer to their own goal and thus more able to track back and defend the space behind them – something Liverpool have struggled with.

Slot can be pragmatic in pursuit of success, and he has a highly talented individual to work with in Bradley.

But whether the system or the player can bend to suit the other is a question to answer in pre-season.

Role under Slot? Unclear, but he has shown he can emulate Alexander-Arnold’s role.


James McConnell

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's James McConnell during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 19
LFC appearances: 9

Every young player has years of coaching in Liverpool’s aggressive out-of-possession approach throughout the age groups.

But when Liverpool needed to mould an academy player into a defensive midfielder for the first team in 2023/24, McConnell’s technical security meant he got the call.

Taking the ball under pressure during the high stakes of the Carabao Cup final showcased a composure and maturity beyond the 19-year-old’s tender years, and he later laid on a brilliant assist in the FA Cup.

Hull City have already expressed an interest in him as a result.

Slot, meanwhile, is a serial player-improver. It’s the reason he’s had immediate success at every club he’s managed, it’s how he succeeds on a budget, and it’s what FSG have hired him to do at Liverpool.

If he’s meant to look to the academy as much as the transfer market, McConnell would be a great place to start.

Role under Slot? If he stays, an option at No. 6.


Bobby Clark

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 14, 2023: Liverpool's Bobby Clark looks on during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-21's and Everton FC Under-21's, the Mini-Merseyside Derby, at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

Age: 19
LFC appearances: 14

Clark rarely performs the spectacular. He receives the ball well, he releases the ball at the right time, and he counter-presses effectively.

The most eye-catching quality he has demonstrated in 14 appearances is to not catch the eye.

He simply looks like he belongs in the engine room of an elite team, despite being just 19 years of age.

Slot asks his midfielders to show for the ball and rotate fluidly in order to play short, quick passes that disrupt the opposition’s defensive shape.

Clark’s in-possession game is perfect for this.

The No. 8s for Slot are also supposed to contribute goals and assists higher up the pitch, so that’s an area for Clark to improve if he is to kick on.

Role under Slot? The perfect candidate as one of the No. 8s.


Jayden Danns

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool's Jayden Danns celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 18
LFC appearances: 5

One of the most sought-after profiles in modern football is the ‘nine-and-a-half’. A striker who can link play like Roberto Firmino but also score goals like Erling Haaland.

Danns’ ability to both link play and score helped him break into the first team and earned comparisons with Harry Kane.

Before we get too excited, though, Danns is far from the level of a Harry Kane just yet.

He’s scored two senior Liverpool goals, both against Championship opposition, and is still building the physical capacity to compete at the elite level.

There’s a reason Klopp left him on the bench when seeking a goal at Goodison Park in April.

In terms of profile, Danns is a major asset for Slot to inherit. Next season is likely too soon to expect a major contribution at Anfield – but then, many would have had said the same last summer.

Role under Slot? Chances may be slim, but more experience to come up front.


Stefan Bajcetic

LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's Stefan Bajcetic during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 19
LFC appearances: 22

His 2022/23 breakout campaign was so good that a complete absence in 2023/24 hasn’t quietened the talk around Bajcetic.

The major question has been around his position.

Breaking in as a No. 6, usurping the ageing Fabinho, Bajcetic paired his technical security with endless running and crunching tackles.

But his press-resistance and dribbling ability, as well as an underrated cool in front of goal, suggest his best position is as the No. 8.

Unfortunately for him, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch all have similar attacking upsides.

Bajcetic’s long-limbed style of tackling and his robustness in physical duels make him best suited to a deeper role – at least in the short term.

Role under Slot? More chance in the No. 6 role for now.