This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Liverpool’s young players were given a boost today as Jurgen Klopp named Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg in his Champions League squad.
The pair, aged 16 and 17 respectively, only arrived at Anfield this summer but have already performed well for the U23 team and appear to have done enough to show their manager they are worthy of being in contention.
The European champions will have to defend their title in group stage matches against Napoli, Red Bull Salzburg, and KRC Genk, and it is the fixture against the Belgian side which the youngsters could target as an opportunity to feature.
Van den Berg faces a difficult task with four senior centre-backs ahead of him in the pecking order, but with Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez frequently suffering from injuries, he could feasibly get his chance.
Despite his youth, the Dutchman featured in 20 competitive fixtures for Zwolle’s first-team in the last campaign, and the fact he has been selected ahead of the highly-rated Ki-Jana Hoever shows Klopp’s opinion of him.
This time in 2018, Klopp didn’t include a player without a senior appearance under his belt, and therefore van den Berg and Elliott could be destined for big things, starting now.
Elliott has already made big strides in his short career, and made an impression on his previous manager as Scott Parker handed him his professional debut – his appearance against Wolves making him the youngest Premier League player ever.
Since joining the Reds, he has shown signs that he could have what it takes to break into the first team, with his work rate off the ball matching his skill on it, and if he continues to impress by linking up with teammates such as Rhian Brewster then he could play his way into Champions League contention.
Even if the duo don’t feature on the pitch, their involvement in the squad will still be a big boost for them, and is evidence of Klopp’s faith in them, a belief which they should use to their advantage.
The German hasn’t trusted other promising youngsters such as Harry Wilson or Hoever in this way, and that could hint that these two are the real deal.