Football

Liverpool youngster learning from Salah and Mane

Liverpool full-back Neco Williams is generating all sorts of interest after impressing for club and country in recent months.

The 20-year-old made his Reds debut in the 2019/20 campaign, and has gone on to make 28 appearances for the senior side. But it is perhaps with his country that Williams has been attracting the most attention.

He starred in the recent international break for Wales, firstly scoring in the 5-1 victory over Belarus, before putting in a hugely impressive display in the 1-1 draw with Belgium.

The youngster now has 17 national team appearances to his name. It’s just 11 fewer than his Liverpool tally. But for now, he is more than happy to battle it out with the star members of the club.

Williams singled out forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as two players he is learning from, telling Liverpoolfc.com: “Normally a day before a game we’ll do like an 11v11 with the starting team and the team who’s on the bench or the rest of the players.

“Obviously Salah and Mane are starting most games and to play against them near enough every day, it does feel great because it’s going to help me as a player.

“I’m learning off them and it gives me a little battle with them, so I’m enjoying it.”

Williams struggling for playing time

Trent Alexander-Arnold is undoubtedly Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice right-back. Joe Gomez and James Milner have also been given the nod ahead of Williams on a few occasions.

Where does that leave the 20-year-old? He’s played just 97 minutes of club football this season. And 90 of those came in the League Cup meeting with Preston. That was a game in which Klopp selected his secondary players and youngsters.

But that situation may soon change. Liverpool can expect to lose three of their key men when the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway in January. Salah, Mane and Naby Keita will all leave the club for a month to represent their nations in the tournament.

Diogo Jota will be expected to fill one of the gaps left by Salah or Mane. Other than that, will Divock Origi be trusted to step up and fill the other? Perhaps Takumi Minamino, Harvey Elliott or even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

Williams to play further forward for Liverpool?

Everyone knows the difficulties of recruiting world-class talent in January. But more importantly, recruiting a forward who knows he is just there until Salah and Mane return would be next to impossible.

It doesn’t look like Klopp will put his attacking youngsters into the first-team at this time, so it could be argued that a role on the wing for Williams is a possibility.

The Wales international has two assists in those 97 minutes for the Reds. And he’s shown a real appetite to get forward for both club and country. Moreover, he could play on either the right or the left, as shown in the match against Belgium. It also helps that he knows where the net is, an issue Klopp will not be looking forward to when Salah departs soon.

About the author

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Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

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