This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
It’s not often that you have to fend off interest from elsewhere when signing a player for the academy, but that’s what Liverpool had to do in order to land Yasser Larouci.
Last summer, the Reds managed to win the race for the Algerian-born Frenchman ahead of both Manchester United and Southampton.
The teenager impressed whilst on trial with the Saints, and Jose Mourinho even had scouts run the rule over Larouci, but the talented winger opted to join Liverpool.
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Larouci rejected a contract with Le Havre in order to move to Anfield, a club whose academy has housed the likes of Dimitri Payet, Paul Pogba and Riyad Mahrez – if the winger becomes anything like those three, Liverpool have a player on their hands.
Winger? But why has he been playing at left-back for Jurgen Klopp in pre-season?
Well, Liverpool Under-18 boss Barry Lewtas identified Larouci’s best features – his pace, strength and direct dribbling are his main assets according to Goal – and felt that the winger would be better placed as a left-back.
Lewtas said: “A converted winger to a left-back. Yasser has done extremely well for us. He is lightning-quick and a real good personality. He has picked up the language well and is a really good boy, so we are happy with how he is progressing. In terms of him playing in a new position this season, it has worked really well for us.
“Because he is so quick it helps in his one-v-one defending, he is aggressive and is good when he runs into the big spaces and he arrives well in terms of forward runs. There were a few things in his game that I saw and thought he can play left-back for us, and he has done ever so well, so let’s see how his journey goes.”
The 18-year-old has made huge strides since arriving at the club just last summer.
Having originally gone into Lewtas’ Under-18 side – helping them win the FA Youth Cup last term – Larouci also featured for Neil Critchley’s Under-23 side.
To go from the Under-18s, to the Under-23s, and then to the first-team for pre-season shows just how rapidly Larouci is rising through the ranks, and also suggests that he is making a very good impression on and off the pitch with the Merseysiders.
Klopp has already spoken glowingly about the converted left-back, singling him out for praise after the recent friendly against Borussia Dortmund in which Larouci had to contend with the talents of Jadon Sancho.
The German said: “Yasser, our 18-year-old left-back, played against one of the biggest talents in world football and did really well.”
Luckily for Larouci, his development looks likely to continue as he has reportedly escaped serious injury, despite a horrid red-card challenge against Sevilla on Sunday saw him leave the field on a stretcher.
Let the potential blossom.