Liverpool have today confirmed that three youngsters have committed their futures to the club by signing new long-term deals.
Kevin Stewart, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn have agreed extensions to their current contracts, with the former two committing themselves to Liverpool for five years, and Woodburn for three (the maximum allowed for a player under 18).
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp expressed his delight at the new contracts, telling the official club website that it is a clear indication that there is a direct path between the youth set-up and the first team – something Klopp is always eager to press home:
“I think we have shown that with the work Alex Inglethorpe and his staff do at the Academy, we offer a clear pathway to first-team football if the players embrace what is on offer for them.
“I cannot praise them [the Academy] enough for the culture and environment they have there. It is perfect. “
Stewart has become something of a favourite of Klopp’s to bring on in the closing stages of Premier League matches to see the game out. Although he rarely starts in the league right now, the 23-year-old midfielder is not seen as a direct threat to Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana or Gini Wijnaldum in the Liverpool midfield but the manager still recognises his contribution:
“With Kev it is maybe a little different. He is of course established with us now and making a contribution as an important member of our first-team squad.”
Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, is seen as a hugely talented prospect at right-back. The 18-year-old made his senior debut in the recent EFL Cup win against Tottenham at Anfield, playing 70 minutes and earning rave reviews in the ratings after the game.
Woodburn, the youngest and arguably the most exciting of the trio, has only just turned 17 but there were calls from some to have the Welsh winger on the fringes of the first team already after some fine performances for the senior side in the pre-season campaign.
While Klopp dismissed that notion out of hand, Woodburn has featured a few times for the under-23 side in the Premier League 2.