One of the main obstacles Liverpool have had to overcome this season has been the departure of star player Raheem Sterling, who joined Manchester City in the summer, turning his back on the Merseyside club.
Although strike pairing Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez gained most of the plaudits for the Reds’ unlikely title push in 2013-14, it was the England international who added blistering pace, versatility and penetration to the team’s attack.
This season, with legendary midfielder Steven Gerrard also departing the club in the summer, it has been a case of rebuilding for the Anfield side.
Now under Jurgen Klopp’s stewardship, Liverpool have an able squad but lack the star quality that Brendan Rodgers possessed two campaigns ago when the title was so close to being claimed.
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The former Borussia Dortmund trainer has a stellar track record of developing young players and is known for his man-management abilities from the time in his homeland.
With a number of exciting youngsters coming through the Liverpool ranks, there is a feeling that Klopp’s influence in developing the stars of the future could well be telling.
Jordon Ibe is arguably the brightest young player to emerge from the Anfield outfit’s youth ranks since Sterling burst onto the scene, and understandably the current Reds star is being likened to the sprightly winger that came before him.
But, with Ibe starting to get his chance in the Reds starting line-up under Klopp, can the youngster become as good as Sterling?
The similarities between the two young players are there for all to see, with both possessing blistering pace, trickery and the ability to beat defenders in one-on-one situations.
However, Ibe has sizeable shoes to fill if he is to live up to his predecessor’s standard and has a lot of developing still to do.
Rodgers worked tirelessly with Sterling to help him to reach his potential, with the Jamaica-born starlet initially a winger with potential. Over a number of years in the Liverpool first team and with the Northern Irishman’s assistance, Sterling showed the versatility to play as a central attacking midfielder and even as a number nine – all with aplomb.
At the moment, it is hard to imagine Ibe playing in the range of roles that Sterling operated in for the Anfield outfit, despite his promise. That said, since Klopp’s appointment, the 19-year-old has shown that he can be a real asset in the German trainer’s team.
Ibe scored the winner against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, with Klopp’s delight with the teenager after the final whistle evident.
The former Dortmund boss followed this up by starting the young midfielder against Crystal Palace at the weekend, with the flying winger one of the brighter players for the defeated team.
For Ibe to replicate the feats of Sterling, Klopp will have to follow in the footsteps of Rodgers and spend countless hours on the training pitch honing the star’s game.
The promise is there for all to see, but at the moment Ibe is someway off the level of the Manchester City man and Liverpool still have a Sterling-shaped void to fill.