Liverpool signed the best young player in the world in club-record deal


Liverpool’s academy has produced some incredible players during the Premier League era.

Steven McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, and Steven Gerrard famously all starred for the Reds after bursting onto the scene in the nineties, while the likes of Dominic Matteo and David Thompson also broke through at the same time.

Fast forward to the present day and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, and Caoimhin Kelleher are vital members of Jurgen Klopp’s first team squad after graduating from the Academy, while the likes of Harvey Elliot and Stefan Bajcetic snapped up for the youth ranks during their mid-teens.

And the Academy conveyor belt is showing no signs of slowing down, with the likes of Ben Doak, Bobby Clark, Conor Bradley, and Jarell Quansah all hoping to be the next players to take decisive first team steps.

However, the Reds’ academy hasn’t always been the ‘gold mine’ it is today. Throughout the noughties, it was regularly rued how Gerrard remained the last graduate to become a key first team player.

Considering how fruitful the nineties had been, mentioned alongside Manchester United’s class of ‘92, onlookers were baffled at Liverpool’s failure to unearth the next Gerrard, Owen, or Carragher. In the end it took multiple changes behind the scenes, overseen by the likes of Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers, before the Reds truly got back on path under Klopp.

But that didn’t prevent Liverpool from boasting a number of highly-rated youngsters that ultimately didn’t quite live up to expectations during their barren run. And FourFourTwo’s list of the 100 best players in world football in 2001 demonstrates this extremely well.

Six Reds players featured in the list, with all placing in the top 40 and two in the top 10. Meanwhile, three future Liverpool players would make up the top five, with one future academy signing taking their overall contingent to 10. Yet, looking back, only one of those can actually claim to have actually been one of the best stars of their generation.

A number of the greatest players of the 21st century feature among the list. But when you consider 2007 Ballon d’Or winner Kaka, who lifted both the World Cup and Champions League during his illustrious playing career, only placed 95th, you have an idea about the direction we’re about to take.

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