Liverpool have spent more than £17m on foreign academy players in five years, but 17-year-old prodigy Kaide Gordon is already being tipped for the top
The teenager Kaide Gordon is the latest youth player to impress Liverpool scouts, but there is evidence that 17-year-old prodigies can do really well at the club.
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In the last six years Liverpool have spent more than £17m on foreign academy players, but it was Salah, a speed merchant from the Ghanian enclave of Suriname, who proved to be the best of the lot. His blend of agility, guile and power made him one of the best players in the world and brought him the league title, though he was out for the second half of the season after returning home to deal with mental health issues.
Mathew Smith, the head of youth at the academy, is hugely impressed by Gordon’s impact since he made his debut last month. “When he came in he fit seamlessly in as if he’d been in training for the past few weeks,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “He looked really comfortable when he played and he was settling straight in.
“He had a nice understanding with the manager and with other young players in the first team, and we’ve definitely seen how well he is settling into life here.”
Gordon came through the youth ranks at Liverpool’s Blackburn-based base and finished the season as the club’s top scorer with seven goals. He will be an easy call to take in next season’s final third of the academy pecking order.
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Smith hopes the England Under-17 international will follow the example of Sturridge, the long-haired goalscorer who came from a similar lower-league background to Gordon’s parents before going on to play for Chelsea and England.
“Sturridge was a player we had heard about already from our FA Youth Cup winning side a few years back, but he had a really good injury-hit period before coming back and scoring goals for both us and Chelsea,” he said. “That can happen to all these players. Sometimes people underestimate the power of the football pathway.”
Gordon is one of several central midfielders for whom Gordon spent most of his time on the right of a 4-3-3 system, which the Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, prefers at present. It is a system Gordon would not have been able to pick up had he arrived four years earlier, the manager at his former club, Blackburn, told the Liverpool Echo.
“To his credit, he’s made a complete 180 by becoming a Liverpool man,” said Nathan Parrett. “Gone is the big man with top-drawer technique, wonky timing and the slow, clumsy pace of his younger years.
“He’s a winger in the best sense of the word – a lightning striker who can run at people and shoot with his left foot, as well as the left side of his right foot.”
He certainly has pace and ability, and has taken much of the credit for the seven goals he scored for the FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2015. “All the credit goes to him,” said Smith. “In the last couple of weeks, he has been incredible. He is certainly becoming the player I predicted he would be.”