The ideal finishing school for Kenny’s fledglings?

The world-class academy at Liverpool that was revamped under Rafa Benitez is finally starting to pay rewards with talented youngsters emerging who are capable of making the first team in the future.

The likes of Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly, John Flanagan, Jonjo Shelvey all broke into the first team last season and look to have bright Premier League futures in front of them.

The task for Kenny Dalglish now is to find the balance which helps to continue their development, either on long term loans or as back-up for the first-team.

This summer’s spending seems to have pushed aside many of the academy players who emerged last season and now they are probably seen as squad players who will provide back-up in case of injuries. An example of this is Jay Spearing who adequately replaced injured captain Steven Gerrard last season but will now have to compete against new arrivals Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and the returning Gerrard for a starting berth. Therefore his development could be stunted if he remains at Liverpool playing a bit-part role and should instead be send on a season long loan to another Premier League where he can still regularly start.

A loan to a team such as Wigan would benefit his progress as a Premier League player and he can come back to Anfield more experienced and hopefully improved. Other youngsters who would benefit from a long-term loan move include John Flanagan and Jack Robinson who impressed when they were called upon last season and Spanish U21 international, Daniel Pacheco, with options seemingly limited at Anfield.

Martin Kelly spent time on loan at Huddersfield in 2009 where he proved that he was good enough to play in the Premier League and when the opportunity to play in the first team came along, his experience out on loan really helped him make the step up. This is the sort of opportunity you cannot get by playing in the reserves.

Sending talented youngsters out on season long loans has also been a success elsewhere. Jack Wilshere progression as the country’s most gifted young player began with a loan spell at Bolton and Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge also increased his profile with an impressive period at Bolton last season.

Not only do these sorts of loans aid the development of the player but they also add pound signs to their price tag especially if the club are looking to move the player on at the end of the season. Manchester United regularly do this to generate interest in the player before selling them on for a higher price than they would have got for a player who hadn’t been out on loan.

Loaning them to a club as high as possible should be the aim, but I believe even a loan to a League One club would help their progress as it would give a chance to play in a competitive environment on a regular basis. While sending them to a club with a similar passing philosophy would be beneficial as they would come back suited to the way that Liverpool try to play.

Sometimes a loan move can be turn out to be quite pointless as the player spends his whole time sat on the bench with managers who just see him as back-up to the first team. Having a well-managed loan system would give Liverpool a chance to watch his development and improve him in the future.

There is only so much that can be learnt from playing reserve matches and instead this talent batch of youngsters need competitive fixtures to aid their development. They have time and ability on their hands but Liverpool need to handle them with care to make sure they become an important part of the Liverpool set-up for years to come. A successful long term loan move would be a good start.

 


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