If Rhian Brewster lives up to the hype then he will save Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp millions in the transfer window.
The 19-year-old is set for his breakthrough season with the first team after being lined up for more than a year to fill the boots of departed striker Daniel Sturridge.
While the England Under-17 World Cup winner will start as back-up to Roberto Firmino and Champions League hero Divock Origi the promise he has shown already suggests he could have a part to play.
He has been the leading scorer in pre-season, benefiting from the absence of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah who were all on extended breaks because of summer international duty.
Landed back in the UK, was a great tour, and the support out in 🇺🇸 even better! 🙌🏾🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/2JHOsxH9Vh— Rhian Brewster (@RhianBrewster9) July 25, 2019
While it is unwise to judge players on that form alone, the fact Klopp has been prepared to not only wait for him to recover from serious knee and ankle injuries but leave a place open in his squad despite the loss of a senior striker, shows how highly he is rated.
“I love the boy, he is fantastic player. Why should I play it down?” said the manager.
“Rhian Brewster is a top striker, he is a top talent and I have told him already that he has an important role this year – but how important depends on him.”
Klopp has a record of promoting youngsters and being immensely loyal to the players who do the business for him on the pitch.
It is why there has been no summer spending splurge to match their Premier League title rivals Manchester City.
Critics will argue after finishing second to Pep Guardiola’s side with a record runners-up points tally of 97, now is precisely the time to strengthen, despite losing just one league match and having the top-flight’s best defensive record.
But Klopp sees it differently and uses their Champions League victory, the club’s sixth European Cup success, as justification for keeping faith in his current crop of players.
Instead he has invested in the future of the club with the arrival of highly-rated Dutch teenager Sepp Van Den Berg for a modest £1.3million, although if the 17-year-old fulfils his obvious potential, the extra £3m in add-ons will still seem like a bargain.
There will be no mega-money splurge similar to the one last summer which saw £175m spent on goalkeeper Alisson Becker, midfielders Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Klopp points to the ‘new’ players he will have at his disposal in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita.
The former played just 19 minutes in two matches late on last season having been out for a year with ruptured knee ligaments.
Keita struggled with injuries which affected his rhythm and hindered his adaptation to English football and a groin problem prematurely ended his club season in April.
Klopp expects to see an improvement in the Guinea international this time around, even if his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations aggravated his injury. The responsibility is on Oxlade-Chamberlain to provide the X-factor from midfield.
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Liverpool ended their pre-season tour of the USA with a 2-2 draw against Sporting Lisbon at the Yankee Stadium.
The sides shared the Western Union Cup after the scores remained tied at the final whistle in New York.
An error from Simon Mignolet gave Sporting an early lead after four minutes, with Bruno Fernandes’ shot from 30 yards bouncing through the goalkeeper’s hands.
Liverpool then upped the tempo and Divock Origi levelled things up on a rebound from close range in the 20th minute.
Several more chances to score followed, before Georginio Wijnaldum secured the advantage just before the break following a cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
But Klopp’s men did not stay out in front for long, as Wendel tied the scores once again eight minutes into the second half.
Neither side was able to find a breakthrough during the remainder of the match.
The friendly saw the long-awaited debut for Liverpool’s summer signing Sepp Van Den Berg after he was granted international clearance by Fifa.
The 17-year-old, who arrived last month from PEC Zwolle for an initial £1.3million fee, was brought on in the 89th minute.
Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament.
Clyne suffered the injury in Liverpool’s pre-season friendly with Borussia Dortmund in New York on Friday.
The 28-year-old right-back, who spent last season on loan at fellow Premier League side Bournemouth, was sidelined for most of the 2017-18 season with a back injury.
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