Liverpool’s Neco Williams has been one of the most outstanding young players to emerge during the 2019/20 season and James Pearce has been thoroughly impressed by what he’s seen.
Indeed, The Athletic’s Liverpool correspondent was recently speaking on the Red Agenda podcast (31st March, episode 20) with Simon Hughes and host Steve Hothersall, and the club’s academy was at the heart of the discussion.
Pearce delivered a gushing verdict on Curtis Jones and labelled him as “the pick of the young crop” at the club, but he was also eager to highlight the development of Williams in what has been a breakthrough campaign for the budding Wales international (39:55).
“Behind Curtis (Jones) Neco Williams, in terms of someone who is making rapid, rapid progress. He was someone who wasn’t really a part of the conversation at the start of the season and now he’s quite rightly regarded as someone who Jurgen Klopp can turn to as a reliable deputy for Alexander-Arnold, especially with Nathaniel Clyne leaving the club over the next few months.
“I think Neco Williams has performed at such a level in the cup games that I don’t think you’d have any concerns about starting him in the Premier League if Klopp felt that Trent needed a breather.”
While Williams’ rapid development is certainly worth shouting about, Jon Flanagan’s fall into obscurity shows how quickly fortunes can change in football.
Flanagan is currently no more than a bit-part player at Rangers having failed to impress since Steven Gerrard brought him to the club in 2018. The fact he has been left out of the senior squad in six of Rangers’ last eight league games speaks volumes about his standing at Ibrox.
At the other end of the spectrum is Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose success needs little introduction to Liverpool supporters.
Williams remains a relatively unknown entity and it’s difficult to predict which direction his career will head in. But, regardless of what the long term future holds, there is no doubt that his impressive displays in the cup competitions have merited a Premier League opportunity, as Pearce suggests.
It may be some time before he gets that chance, but he is well placed to establish himself as Alexander-Arnold’s deputy on recent evidence.