There are few things more exciting than when an academy graduate makes it into the first team. Seeing one of the club's homegrown products out there showing promise and mixing it with the hardened pros is enough to make even the biggest transfer-loving fan ditch the gossip columns for a bit.
With Liverpool facing League One Lincoln City on Thursday night, it looks to be time for another Anfield academy star to make the step up from boy to man. Reports suggest that former Kidderminster Harriers loanee Rhys Williams is set to make his first-team debut for the Reds.
But just how much is known about the 19-year-old defender? Not a lot, right? Well, have no fear, because 90min are here to tell you a bit about the young man.
The Next Van Dijk?
Role models are often important for a young, up-and-coming footballer, and Williams could hardly have chosen a better one in Virgil van Dijk.
Being a centre-back himself, Williams says that he takes inspiration from Van Dijk.
Speaking to Liverpool's official website, the 19-year-old said: "He's so calm and confident in what he does. You don't see him panicking in big situations. He's just a great role model for everyone.
"I watch all the Liverpool games and he's the main player I focus on. If they do analysis after the game and it's on him, then I'll record it or watch it there and then just to see if I can take bits of his game into mine."
Here to StayDespite having never made an appearance for the first team, belief is clearly high in the youngster, who has been with the Reds most of his life. The Preston-born starlet also recently signed a five-year contract to keep him at Anfield until 2025.
Even with Dejan Lovren having departed and the injury records of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip patchy at best, Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool are not on the lookout for a fourth firs-team centre-back option.
While Fabinho has filled in alongside Van Dijk recently, some strong cup displays could see Williams become a genuine option for Klopp's senior side.
John Barnes Is a Fan
It's not just the coaches at Liverpool who have shown their faith in the young centre-back, but also Liverpool legend John Barnes.
Williams drew high praise from the two-time FWA Footballer of the Year, who named him as one of three players who could lead Liverpool in the future, alongside Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.
As quoted by The Mirror, Barnes said: "If people go then you have to replace them to get the squad good, but Liverpool have Curtis Jones, Rhys Williams, Harvey Elliott and other young players."
An England InternationalDespite his very Welsh-sounding name, Williams has represented England at youth level, appearing for the Under-18s and Under-19s sides.
He's also played alongside some noteworthy names for the Young Lions. In the photo above, Williams features with fellow Liverpool teammate Curtis Jones and Arsenal's Bukayo Saka.
Already Won Silverware With Liverpool
An encouraging omen for the Anfield faithful will be the defender's success at youth level.
Williams was part of the Liverpool team that won the FA Youth Cup in 2019, defeating Manchester City in the final on penalties after the game ended 1-1. It was the first time that the Reds had won the tournament since 2007.
Recognisable participants in the final include Welsh full-back Neco Williams and Spanish defender Eric Garcia. Given their recent first-team opportunities, the 19-year-old will feel like his opportunity is just around the corner.
Source : 90min