Name: Lloyd Kelly
Club: AFC Bournemouth
Date of Birth: 1 October 1998
Position: Centre-back, left-back
Lloyd Kelly is a 21-year-old defender currently playing his football at AFC Bournemouth. However, with the club’s misfortune of being relegated down to the Championship at the end of the 2019/20 season, it will be interesting to see if they can hold onto their young talent heading into the next campaign. Kelly’s footballing career started when he joined Bristol City at the age of 12, having previously only played locally at Bristol Central. From 2011 and 2017, the youngster was part of their academy and would only compete for the youth squads.
Still, despite his young age, he did enough to impress the upper hierarchy and as a reward, he was taken on a pre-season trip to Portugal for the 2015/16 season. That was his first contact with the senior world of football in general and by 2017, he would finally make his grand bow, debuting in a 5–0 triumph versus Plymouth Argyle in the EFL Cup.
But he also didn’t exactly stop there either. At the end of the 2017/18 campaign, Kelly was named the Young Player of the Year and would then follow it up with another achievement soon after, as he was included in the EFL ‘Team of the Week’ for gameweek 38 in March 2018. At that point, there was no longer any doubt, Bristol City had a unique player in their squad who was destined to go straight to the top.
The first big team to give him a chance, however, were Bournemouth. In the summer of 2019, Kelly signed for the Premier League outfit and would enjoy a mixed first season in the top-flight. He made his debut in an EFL Cup game against Burton Albion but due to serious injuries to first his ligaments in the first part of the season, and a niggling hamstring injury in the second part, he would end the 2019/20 campaign having only tallied eight League appearances and one Cup game under his belt.
It was supposed to be much more than that but luck was not on his side. He made his Premier League debut in June when he came on as a substitute against Wolverhampton Wanderers and would proceed to play the full 90 minutes from that point until the end of the season. Unfortunately, Bournemouth could not avoid relegation and will continue in the Championship from 2020/21 onward.
This, however, begs the question of whether Kelly will indeed stay at the club or will he move on to greener pastures. There is certainly interest and it will be interesting to see where his road takes him next.
If some of the latest transfer news are to be believed, Kelly might be on Liverpool’s radar for this summer. Even with minimal exposure to the Premier League, it seems that the Reds and Jurgen Klopp see a lot of potential in the 21-year-old and could make a move in the ongoing transfer window.
Interestingly, in some other Liverpool news, the Merseyside squad was apparently interested in the defender last year as well but they didn’t pull the trigger in the end. Now, however, that might change and if the transfer rumours indeed persist, we might see Kelly in the Premier League once again come 2020/21.
Even though we haven’t seen much of him at the very top level, Kelly is still a very exciting prospect. A left-back on paper, the 21-year-old can also be deployed as a left centre-back, which Bournemouth have done last season. He is strong, athletic and still quite tall, standing at 6 ft 3 in. These physical predispositions mean he is good at winning duels both on the ground and in the air.
And with a decent dose of raw pace and a good sense of positioning and movement, Kelly can often be seen intercepting the ball and blocking shots to great effect. But the interesting thing is that he is also quite good when in possession and can dribble and shrug off the first wave of press when trying to progress the ball from the back.
At Bristol City, he would regularly carry the ball and was also a decent passer but it was difficult to see all of those traits during his first season at Bournemouth both due to his injuries and his team’s struggle as a whole.