Teenager Ki-Jana Hoever became Liverpool‘s youngest-ever player in the FA Cup when the 16-year-old made his first-team debut as a sixth-minute substitute for Dejan Lovren in the third round tie at Wolves.
Hoever is the third-youngest player of all time to feature for the club and Press Association Sport takes at look at the defender.
Born on January 18, 2002. He joined Ajax’s academy after a spell with AZ Aklmaar. He moved to Liverpool – who beat off competition from Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – in the summer but had to wait until September for his international clearance. As he had not signed a professional contract Ajax were only entitled to minimum compensation. He scored three goals in his first five matches for Holland Under-17s.
The highly-rated Dutch youth international made his debut for Liverpool Under-18s in a 4-1 win over Newcastle on September 15. He made his UEFA Youth League debut three days later against Paris St Germain and his Premier League 2 bow for the under-23s came at the end of November against Everton. Late last month he joined first-team training at Melwood.
He made such an impression in his Premier League 2 debut against Everton coach Neil Critchley said: “Unbelievable. Sixteen years old? Just… wow, really!” Jurgen Klopp, when talking about the prospect of Hoever making his debut against Wolves, admitted he viewed the Dutchman as one for long-term development. “He is for sure for the future of the club, but when the future starts I do not know,” said the German. “It will happen automatically. It is a nice prospect for the next months and years.”
The 16-year-old can play at centre-back or on the right side of defence and has already drawn comparisons with compatriot and now first-team team-mate Virgil Van Dijk. He has also played further forward for Liverpool’s youth teams with his standout display coming in that 1-0 win over Everton. His development was certainly helped by his time in Ajax’s academy. As Liverpool Under-18s manager Barry Lewtas said: “He comes from a good stock. I’d feel embarrassed if I sat here and took credit for him.”
Anyone feeling old?
While Hoever was just learning to stand up and probably and say his first word as a 10-month-old, current Liverpool team-mate James Milner was making his first-team debut for Leeds aged 16 years and 309 days. Hoever was exactly 296 days old.
Liverpool‘s title charge took a hit on Thursday as they lost to Manchester City, a 2-1 reverse that was the Reds’ first defeat of the Premier League season, cutting the gap between the two sides to four points.
Though Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain in pole position, the pressure is now on for a club that hasn’t won a league title since 1991.
And the Reds’ record in January under Klopp will only serve to fuel the doubts about their ability to hold on to their lead.
Klopp has 10 losses in 25 games as Liverpool manager across all competitions, form that suggests the next few weeks could be make or break for his side’s title chances.
Perhaps the German’s high-intensity pressing style takes a toll on his team during the packed calendar in December, leading to a drop in January. But whatever the reason, it’s a disconcerting record now that City have cut the gap and Tottenham are also only six points behind.
In his first season in England, Klopp oversaw losses to West Ham, Manchester United, and Stoke City in January 2016 – though the last of those came in the second leg of a League Cup semi-final tie against Stoke City that the Reds ultimately won on penalties.
The following year saw losses to Swansea and Wolves, as well as two losses to Southampton in both legs of the League Cup semi-final.
And in 2018, Klopp’s team lost to Swansea again, and followed that up with a loss to West Brom.
This month, Liverpool have an FA Cup fixture against Wolves, and then three crucial league games against Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester City. The latter two sides beat Man City in December to give the Reds a boost, but now loom as potential banana-skin ties.
If Liverpool are to end their long title drought, Klopp will have to resolve his January jinx.
10 - Liverpool have lost 10 of their 25 matches in all competitions under Jurgen Klopp in the month of January (W8 D7), making up 29% of his total defeats as Reds boss (10 of 35). Dry. pic.twitter.com/bm5fCwkQYc— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 3, 2019
Football faces a losing battle with cult computer game Fortnite unless it embraces technological change, according to Liverpool CEO Peter Moore.
The wildly popular shooter-survival game attracted more than 125 million within a year of its summer 2017 release and developer Tim Sweeney made $7 billion in 2018.
As a former leading figure at Sega, Microsoft and EA Sports, Moore is uniquely positioned to talk about the threat such ventures pose to football in an age when digital exposure is of ever-increasing importance.
“There’s a millennial generation growing up that, unlike our generation where our dad took us to the game and we didn’t have technology get in the way, technology now is an alternative to watching live sports,” he said on Wednesday at the 13th Dubai International Sports Conference.
“When I look at viewing and attendance figures of millennial males I’m concerned as a CEO of a football club that relies on the next generation of fans coming through.
“I’m concerned that if we don’t build technological prowess as a club, we will lose them. There’s so much pressure now and only 24 hours in a day, there’s only so many hours to play Fortnite, so many hours for screen time.”
Third-party research has stated the Premier League leaders have 771 million fans across the globe. Such popularity, when compared to Fortnite’s revenues, made Moore declare football is underperforming financially.
He said: “If it’s true that football is worth $35 billion a year in revenue, we are performing badly. We should be a $50 or 100 billion industry.”