Pre-season used to be about getting a squad fit. Managers would take players away and run them into the ground in an attempt to shed the weight they’d gained over the summer break. It’s different these days.
Now, players are expected to return in top condition. Coaches use their time to work on new ideas, bed in new signings and give opportunities to highly-rated youngers. Pre-season is no longer an inconvenience to fans, it’s something they look forward to.
With Liverpool yet to make any real signings this summer – Sepp van den Berg arrived and looks likely to be involved in the first-team but he’s not what you’d call a statement arrival – the youngsters are taking centre stage. Especially with so many of the first-team away still due to international commitments.
Those earmarked as the next big thing now have the opportunity to force their way into Jürgen Klopp’s plans.
The Reds are blessed with having an abundance of talented youngsters within their ranks. In previous years a positive showing in pre-season improved their chances of being involved in the first-team, this time around it almost guarantees it.
Liverpool are reluctant to spend this summer with the market offering up very few value for money signings. Despite needing to strengthen in certain areas, the Reds appear to be in no rush to bring in reinforcements. Instead, they might look internally.
There are question marks over whether the current attack has enough depth, meaning opportunities for the youngsters to start there in cup competitions could be on the cards. Cover for Andrew Robertson at left-back is also needed.
With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at four exciting talents who could use this pre-season to force their way into Klopp’s 2019/20 plans.
The Reds have had high hopes for Brewster for quite some time. Named as one of the Football Whispers‘ 20 players to watch in 2019/20, the 19-year-old got his season off to a flier against Tranmere Rovers.
He led the line in the first half and scored twice, his first goals for the Liverpool first-team, and showed exactly why Klopp rates him so highly. It's clear Brewster is a penalty box predator; he has the knack for being in the right place at the right time.
But he also has the work rate and off the ball nous needed to play as the No.9 for Liverpool.
Currently, he's in direct competition with cult hero and Liverpool legend Divock Origi, but there's no reason the pair can't play together in a new-look forward line for the Reds. It's an intriguing possibility and one to keep an eye on.
— Bobby Duncan (@bobbyduncan999) July 11, 2019
There was a chance, a tiny one at that, that Steven Gerrard's cousin wouldn't live up to the hype. Highly-rated at Manchester City, he forced a move to Liverpool and many expected him to deliver. Partly because of the name and partly because of what he'd done previously.
But the 18-year-old proved he wasn't one to coast. He tore up the Under-18 league last year alongside strike partner Paul Glatzel and he found the back of the net against Tranmere, too, with his partner in crime at youth level assisting him for the first-team.
The Borussia Dortmund transfer target has the same desire that marked Gerrard out as a special talent. He makes things happen single-handedly at times. On occasion, it can be a negative, just as it was with the Liverpool legend, but more often than not it leads to the spark needed to win matches and trophies.
He's much more than just a goalscorer, though, and it'll be interesting to see what Klopp crafts him into.
To see the ‘new Paul Pogba‘ playing at left-back isn't something many would have envisaged back in 2017 when Liverpool pipped Manchester United and Southampton to the signature of Larouci.
Fast forward two and a half years and this is exactly what happened in the 6-0 win over Tranmere.
In the first-half at Prenton Park, Larouci showed his intent. His driving runs down the left forced the goalkeeper into making two smart saves. The 18-year-old showcase just how comfortable he was beating men on the outside as he was drifting centrally and getting into the area.
James Milner and Joe Gomez are able deputies but neither offer the same acceleration down the left as Robertson. This could be Larouci's way into Klopp's first-team plans.
Born in Liverpool to German parents, Glatzel could be Klopp's ideal project. Tipped to be a star from an early age, injuries appeared to derail his progress but then he announced himself last season alongside Duncan.
Often captaining the under-18 side, Glatzel is more German than scouse in the sense he's not emotionally driven. Instead, he is meticulously calculated and ruthless on the pitch.
Rarely flustered, he's a clinical finisher but his general play is just as good. He brings others into the game and he has a trick or two up his sleeve.
He could lead the line or even operate as an attacking midfielder similar in a way to Firmino. If the injury picked up against Tranmere isn't serious, expect him to appear in a lot more friendlies during pre-season.
His partnership with Duncan could see him force his way into Klopp's thinking.