James Balagizi - The next big thing?

James Balagizi signed his First Professional Contract with the club in September of 2020.  He’s already an England U17 international. Born in Manchester, the attacking midfielder joined Liverpool from Manchester City at the age of 11.  He is now playing for the U18s at Liverpool after scoring a brace on his debut as a 15-year-old.

Balagizi featured in The Guardian’s ‘Next Generation 2020’. "The excitement that surrounds Balagizi at Liverpool equals the frustration Manchester City feel about him.”, they wrote.

“He is another layer to the animosity between the Premier League's leading sides. A tall, powerful and clever player with quick feet and an eye for goal, he moved to Manchester from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a young child and was a highly-rated prospect in City's academy before being prised away by Liverpool aged 11. "He made his debut for the under-18s at 15, scoring twice, and has already featured for the under-21s.

“An England under-17 international, he can operate at centre forward, behind the striker and this season has been deployed on the left of a midfield three.

"Liverpool secured him on a first professional contract days after his 17th birthday."

He is described as ‘intelligent’ and ‘polite’ by staff at the academy. He was a regular starter for the U18s in the 2019/20 season, where he got his two goals as a 15-year-old in a 7-1 demolition of Blackburn Rovers. He ended the season with four goals and nine assists.

 

Liverpool beat Everton and Manchester United for his signature. He then publicly opened up on why he left Manchester City at such an early age for Liverpool.

 

He said: "I thought that the pathway at City was completely blocked compared to other places because they have so much talent in one group, and it is not concentrated on individuals.

"My parents didn’t think that being at City was the best for me at the time. I’m a Manchester lad and I didn’t like the idea of moving, but when I looked at it in perspective, it was [good for my career]."

He added: "The club is so together and everyone is part of one big project. It’s a good community and it’s a good working environment. It’s a place where people can thrive."

He has trained with the U23s several times over the past year. A first team session surely isn’t far away. The young starlet is certainly one to watch over the years here at Liverpool. As of today, he’s already got an assist in 165 minutes this season.

 

Written by @LFCPassion_3

16/10/2020

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Comments

Ash
6 months ago

Sounds like a future star, like the article keep it up mate 👍

Josh
6 months ago

Love the article keep up the great work

Kieran Gregory
6 months ago

A really good read. One for the future!


Billy Koumetio - Liverpool’s Desailly?

Liverpool signed the young Centre Half from Orleans FC in 2018. Billy Koumetio signed his First Professional Contract at the Reds In August 2020. A huge talent, He was also wanted by his hometown club Olympique Lyonnais. He spent the 19/20 season in the U18s, also featuring in the U19s UEFA Youth League.

The French defender isn’t even yet 18 and already has a few nights to cherish. He was a ball boy in Liverpool’s historic comeback over Barcelona in 2019, he was on the bench in the 10 goal thriller against Arsenal at Anfield in the Carabao Cup, and Koumetio has already had a pre season game for the reds in Austria against Stuttgart.

 

Koumetio admits he found settling on Merseyside quite easy. He’d previously suffered separation from his home and his family. Yasser Larouci also helped with the language barrier and was a translator for a short period.

"Before I came to Liverpool I was playing for Orleans," he says in very good English. "I was there for six months and it's five hours away by car, so I was getting used to being away from my family. So when I came to Liverpool I was quite ready for this". 

 

"But I live with house parents now and they are very good. They're like my second family, so I feel very good there. I stay in touch every day with my family."

Barry Lewtas was the U18s manager at the time and had previously described Koumetio as a ‘real imposing figure at centre back’. Lewtas highlighted his desire to defend on the front foot, his dominant figure and his presence in the dressing room. He also revealed the French Starlet has a real competitive mindset.

 

"On the pitch, I'm competitive, really competitive," Koumetio states. "Off the pitch, I would say I'm a happy person, always happy. I smile all the time, even if things don't go very well. 

 

"I was trying to get my own style but at the moment Virgil van Dijk really inspires me. I go to the game most of the time and I like watching Virgil doing his game very, very well. Sometimes I'm trying to copy him."

Koumetio has played twice for the France U20 team and is eager to go even further for his Nation. He featured 10 times in the PL2 for Liverpool last season (grabbing one assist), and once in the EFL Trophy.

 

Currently wearing the number 89 shirt, he has hopes of some cup action in the 2020/21 season for Liverpool. He has already got Klopp’s approval.

 

“Billy the Kid – he doesn’t look like a kid!” Klopp spoke last week. “His face looks like a kid but then all the rest is ‘wow!’”

 

“He wants to work hard, and that stands out a mile,” says one source. “Everyone loves Billy, he’s just one of those lads,”

 

with such endorsement from the Boss, it's hard to see anything but a bright future for the young Red....Definitely a player to keep an eye on! 

Written by @lfcpassion_3

25/08/2020

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Scott Baxendale
8 months ago

Great review on a hopefully great young talent
This review was very well detailed and has great grammar hope to see some more pieces from the young lad

Kieran Gregory
8 months ago

Really good article! Can’t wait to read more

Josh
8 months ago

Looks good


PLAYER IN REVIEW

Layton Stewart

Layton Stewart recently signed a new contract with Liverpool FC in July 2020 following a very impressive 2019-20 season.

Recognise the name, no? Layton Stewart once scored 56 goals in a season for the reds. He’s definitely one to look out for.

He was 15 at the time and has since trained with Jurgen Klopp’s senior team at Melwood, where he has already left an impression.

The Scouse forward, aged 17, has netted 15 times in 19 games for the Liverpool U18s. In that time he has also bagged 5 assists and just the 1 yellow card. 11 of Layton’s goals came in the U18 Premier League, whilst 2 came in the UEFA Youth League, 1 in the EFL Trophy and 1 in the FA Youth Cup. He’s been with the reds since he was 7.

Stewart featured on the bench as a young, inexperienced Liverpool side were thrashed 5-0 by Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup Quarter Final. This match saw many academy products make their debut, Layton not being one of them.

He’s proved to be a versatile forward playing centrally and from the left. He showed his ability from the left by netting in a 5-2 loss to Accrington Stanley in the EFL Trophy.

Alex Inglethorpe had a few words about the young starlet, “OK, a name,” Liverpool's Academy director says, fixing a stare. “Layton Stewart. Look out for him; he can be anything he wants to be.”

He started off the U18 season with 3 goal contributions in a 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn Rovers, getting a brace and an assist. He then scored in the following match a week later as Liverpool beat Stoke City 3-2. However, Layton then failed to score for 4 games but recovered with a goal and an assist as Liverpool thrashed Merseyside Side Rivals Everton 6-1. Since this, he’s had a least a goal contribution in each game he’s featured in for Liverpool U18s In the league. This included: an assist in a 3-0 over Newcastle; an assist in a 5-1 demolition of Derby; another 2 goals and assist in a 3-0 win over Blackburn; 1 goal and a yellow card in a 2-1 win over Stoke City and finally he bagged his first hattrick as the young reds hammered Sunderland 4-0.

 

Layton missed what ended up being the final 2 games of the season as it was cut short to the outbreak of Covid-19. Liverpool lost both games, 4-2 to Man City and 3-0 to Middlesbrough. An unfortunate ankle injury brought his season to a closure.

When asked about how he finds playing in big matches, he replied “I like the pressure”, his record for the club matches the statement.

Former U23 boss Neil Critchley was impressed by his performances and gave him an U23 debut in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea. He started the match but was unable to manage a goal or an assist.

In terms of the FA Youth Cup, Layton bagged in a 4-2 to Spurs as Liverpool failed to defend the Trophy they were previous winners of.

He managed 2 goals in the UEFA Youth League, the First in a 1-1 draw with Napoli and the Second 2-0 win over Genk. The young attacker also managed an assist as The Reds beat RB Salzburg 3-2.

For England’s U17s,Stewart has managed to make 3 appearances but is without a goal at the moment. He featured in a 3-2 win over Australia, a short cameo in a 1-1 draw with Brazil and also played in a 2-0 win over South Korea.

Former U18 manager, now U23 manager Barry Lewtas spoke out on the young forward, “The journey is a long one, there are plenty of parts he wants to improve but in fairness to him, he’s been attentive, he’s bought in from day one and he’s been listening every day.”

Layton Stewart further says he “wants to be in and around the first team.”

 

written by @lfcpassion_3

22/07/2020