Due to a number of reasons, Liverpool’s 2012/13 season saw a lot of youth players making their first team debuts, with varying levels of success.
Three academy graduates in particular, Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso, impressed manager Brendan Rodgers enough to become regular members of the first-team squad.
While Sterling made his senior debut under Kenny Dalglish towards the end of the 2011/12 season, he was handed his first start for the team against Machester City at the start of last campaign.
And impress he did. The 18-year-old went on to make 24 league appearances and would have made more if not for a niggling hamstring problem, which hampered his involvement after November.
Looking at his passing, Sterling attempted 718 passes in a 1,748 of minutes played up until March, when he made his last appearance in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Of those 718, 85% (607) were accurate, while he only attempted nine long balls the entire season.
There have been significantly less crosses into the box made by the Reds last campaign compared to the season before. Playing predominantly on the left flank, young Sterling only attempted 52 crosses in the 24 matches he was involved in, with a dismal 15% accuracy.
One area where Sterling could improve is his creative output. The youngster created a mere 37 chances, compared (perhaps unfairly) to Philippe Coutinho’s 20 chances created in half the matches.
Raheem also only provided two assists to go along with his two goals, an area where he definitely needs to improve. He took 34 shots in total last campaign, with 10 on target and 11 of those blocked. He also only managed to convert one of four clear-cut opportunites.
There are rumours doing the rounds that Sterling might be heading on loan next season, but I think he is good enough to be a back-up to the first team. If he gets 10 games for the Reds next season, it would more than suffice.
Slotting in at right-back for the first team, Wisdom was brought in to cover for the injured Martin Kelly.
However, Wisdom’s seaso was also blighted by a mid-season injury and the 20-year-old managed just 12 appearances, all of them starts.
Impressively, the only match Liverpool lost with Wisdom in the starting line-up was the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, winning six and drawing the other five.
In terms of passing, Wisdom made 488 passes, with an accuracy percentage of 89% (433). He also attempted 19 long balls, with 14 of them accurate. One of those long balls was also his only assist of the campaign for Daniel Sturridge’s first goal against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
His defensive contribution was also pretty good considering his age and position. Wisdom made 29 tackles at fullback last season, succeeding with 26 of those. He also contested 61 50-50s (ground duels), winning 39 (64%) of those.
Liverpool were/are seen as particularly weak in the air and looking at Wisdom’s stats, he contested 32 aerial duels, with a 59% success rate, while he made 12 successful headed clearances (he attempted 24).
Overall, Wisdom has shown himself to be solid defensively, harkening from his central defensive duties at academy level. He is, perhaps, lacking the attacking edge Rodgers desires in his fullbacks.
Suso is a bit of an odd one as he was limited to only eight starts, making six appearances from the bench, and was used as a right wing/forward at the start, while also making cameos in a more central role.
Perhaps the Spaniard is considered too ‘lightweight’ to play in the midfield in the Premier League, but the 19-year-old has been impressing at the U/20 World Cup with Spain in a much deeper position.
Regardless, Suso managed 85% passing accuracy in his 602 minutes of senior football last campaign, getting 253 of his 298 passes on target.
In terms of creativity, Suso created only eight chances in total and did not create a single clear-cut chance in any of the matches he was involved in.
As such, he did not provide any assists nor did he score. The Spanish U20 international took 19 shots, had nine blocked and got five on target.
While Suso showed glimpses of excellence, I do not believe he had enough playing time to show Liverpool fans what he’s truly capable of.
However, with Coutinho proving a valuable asset and the addition of Luis Alberto from Sevilla, I do not see any more playing time for him next campaign.
There is a debate about the value of a loan versus the quality of coaching available at Melwood, but perhaps a loan to a club with a similar playing style is the best option for Suso at this stage.
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