It was back to winning ways for Liverpool last weekend after two disappointing away performances in a row. The Reds put three past Brentford and find themselves just one point behind first-placed Manchester City.
The top two will face off in a highly anticipated clash next Saturday after the international break. With a lack of Premier League action to report on this week and the January transfer window appearing on the horizon, the rumour mill is beginning to enter overdrive.
Jürgen Klopp is known as a manager who is willing to put his faith in youth, but eyebrows were raised on this week’s Journo Insight show at a story linking Leeds United youngster Archie Gray with a £40 million move to Anfield.
Gray is the 17-year-old great-nephew of Leeds club legend and former manager Eddie Gray. He once had to get permission to miss school after being asked to train with the first team by Marcelo Bielsa. He has operated in both central midfield and right-back positions for the Yorkshire giants.
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight show, we asked Neil Jones for his thoughts on the story.
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“£40 million is huge. Leeds have only sold two players in their history for that price. They were Kalvin Phillips, who’s an England international, 26/27, and Raphinha, who’s a Brazilian international who went to Barcelona.
“We’re talking about Stefan Bajcetic at 19 and still having lots to prove. We’re talking about Harvey Elliott at 20 – with nearly 100 games under his belt – still having a bit to prove. Archie Gray has got an awful lot to prove.
“Of course, it’s an interesting player but I would be amazed if Liverpool or anyone went and spent £40 million on him at this stage, unless they were convinced that he was the best young player in the world, or in the country.
“They went and bought Calvin Ramsey for a few million because they think he’s a development player that can potentially come in and be a good rotation option. If you’re paying £40 million for a 17-year-old kid, I would want to see him playing games.
“They’ve signed younger players there in the past: Kaide Gordan who’s played in the first team, Ben Doak who’d played for Celtic, Trey Nyoni, Harvey Elliott. They sign them with the clear proviso that they’re good, but it will take time before they’re getting into the first team.
“The £40 million might be the package. To commit anything like even £20 million would be a huge statement on a young lad’s talent, and I’m not sure Liverpool would make that kind of statement. I’m not sure many clubs would make that kind of statement. Maybe Chelsea!”
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Whilst Liverpool have signed plenty of talented teenagers from clubs across the UK and Europe in recent years, none have come close to the fee rumoured in this deal. To put it into context, Jude Bellingham cost Dortmund an initial £25 million in 2020. Gray – who was hailed as ‘phenomenal’ by Jermaine Beckford – would have to be a ‘generational’ talent in the mould of Bellingham or Wayne Rooney before him to justify such a large outlay. His next task would then be to dislodge club vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, or outperform experienced internationals such as Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister in midfield – a lot to ask of a 17-year-old. He has a rich family heritage in the game, so should be under no illusions about the task of making it at a big club, but he would have to be a player of extremely rare quality and mentality to start for LFC regularly as a teenager.