Liverpool could revisit Jurgen Klopp crisis plan and free up transfer millions

Diogo Jota, Bobby Clark, Luis Diaz and Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool celebrate after the opening own goal scored by Jakuba Kiwior of Arsenal during the FA Cup third round match against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on January 7 2024

The highlight of Liverpool's season also underlined one of the chief reasons the Reds were able to cope with their injury crisis for as long as they did.

The sight of so many Academy graduates featuring in the League Cup final win over Chelsea in February showcased the influence of youngsters throughout Jurgen Klopp's final campaign.

Jarell Quansah and Conor Bradley were the main breakout starts, the former in particular justifying Liverpool's decision to not buy a new centre-back last summer. But is there sufficient quality in the youth ranks for the Reds to do the same again in the coming months?

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Here, the ECHO's Liverpool FC writers discuss whether or not incoming manager Arne Slot is in a position to continue Klopp's faith in youth.

Next generation can offer Slot at least one genuine option

Ian Doyle: There's no doubt that throughout Jurgen Klopp's reign as manager, he was been more than willing to give youngsters a chance. Within three months of taking charge he had given six players their debut, while the continued impact of Trent-Alexander Arnold and Curtis Jones underlines if a player is good enough, then they will stay in the first-team reckoning.

While Jarell Quansah and Conor Bradley have caught the eye this season, they aren't the only ones. And there is considerable scope for at least three Liverpool youngsters to be given greater opportunities next season under Slot.

All have first-team experience, the most prominent of which is Bobby Clark who, having missed much of the first part of this term through injury, is now a fully-fledged senior midfield option managed 12 appearances in the campaign, including his debut Premier League start, a first European appearance and a first goal.

Jayden Danns made a huge impact during his brief time in the senior side - featuring at Wembley and then scoring twice against Southampton in the FA Cup - and, even though only 18, has the physical attributes to cope with first-team football.

But the most intriguing could be Kaide Gordon, whose recent performances with the under-21s suggest he has outgrown that level and, having featured in a League Cup semi-final more than two years ago, knows he can handle the senior game now he has recovered from the injury that kept him out for 18 months. Plus, as a speedy wide forward, he is precisely the type of player Liverpool are going to assess during the close season.

Factor in the return to fitness of the similar Ben Doak, and it's clear the next generation can offer the incoming Slot at least one genuine option next season.

Academy has already provided Thiago Alcantara replacement

Theo Squires: Last summer, when Liverpool overhauled their midfield, there was a belief that the Reds also need reinforcements in two defensive positions. A new centre-back was desired, with Jurgen Klopp admitting as much 12 months ago, while a new right-back to provide back-up to Trent Alexander-Arnold was also preferable - who could in turn also free up the England international to play in midfield if required.

Of course, the unexpected exits of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho changed matters somewhat for Liverpool as the club had to focus further on their engine-room as a result. Yet such decisions were made with one eye on the next generation at the academy, and thank goodness for that!

Conor Bradley and Jarell Quansah have both stepped up this season to establish themselves as first team players, saving the Reds millions in the process. While Joel Matip's expected exit at the end of his contract this summer will create a vacancy for another new centre-back, such an arrival would only complement what is already in place - including Liverpool's latest academy graduate.

With Thiago Alcantara also set to depart when his contract expires, there will be suggestions that another new midfielder is required this summer. But Bobby Clark has shown enough this year to fill that void, and follow Bradley and Quansah in making that step up into full-time first team player.

It is worth noting that with no Europa League football on offer next season, and hopefully no crippling injury crisis, that opportunities perhaps won't be as forthcoming for the club's next generation. While Jayden Danns is arguably physically ready to be Liverpool's sixth attacking option, new manager Arne Slot will have to decide whether the likes of Kaide Gordon, Ben Doak, Lewis Koumas and James McConnell will get enough senior opportunities to justify staying put or if they would instead benefit from a loan move away.

The question marks over the long-term futures of the likes of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz offers a further quandary for Slot. If replacements are required, could the answer actually emerge from within? Pre-season will act as a fascinating audition for some of the Reds' next generation.

Looking beyond those who have already played for the first team, the likes of Trent Kone-Doherty, Kieran Morrison and Amara Nallo appear to be the next ones to watch. A return to the UEFA Youth League will offer them an intriguing platform next season.

And finally, it would be no surprise if one academy goalkeeper stepped up into the first team squad this summer with it no surprise if both Caoimhin Kelleher and Adrian depart. The likes of Vitezslav Jaros, Harvey Davies and Fabian Mrozek could compete to fill one of the voids, while 17-year-old Kornel Miściur is also highly-rated.

If you're good enough, you're old enough and Arne Slot will know that

Keifer Macdonald:

Nearly 30 years on, Alan Hansen must finally realise that he was wrong when he declared: "You can't win anything with kids."

It was the start of the 1995/96 season and the ex-Liverpool defender was assessing Manchester United's prospects of winning that season's Premier League.

Even if Sir Alex Ferguson's side hadn't successfully wrestled back the championship from Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool did a fairly good job of voiding the legendary defender's point when they faced Chelsea in this season's Carabao Cup final.

During that unforgettable afternoon under the Wembley arches, it was Bobby Clark, James McConnell, Jarell Quansah and Conor Bradley who caught the eye as Liverpool secured a record-extending 10th triumph in the competition.

And as Arne Slot prepares to take over the reins at Anfield, that afternoon against Mauricio Pochettino's side underlines exactly why the club is considered to be in such rude health in a post-Klopp world.

After the emergence of Quansah and Bradley this season, it is surely only a matter of time before Clark and McConnell are regularly appearing in Premier League games like their peers.

Don't forget about Ben Doak either, who started the season rubbing shoulders with Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez after an impressive pre-season tour with the Reds.

Sure, McConnell, Clark and Doak will need regular football next season and therefore loan deals could be explored. But if this season's League Cup final has proved anything it's that if you're good enough, you're old enough.

And Slot will know certainly that.