Football is a game that is always evolving, and to keep up with the best, change is simply a necessity within every team. Keeping things the same will only lead to stagnation.
At Anfield this summer, Liverpool have certainly embarked on the beginning of an evolution at the club. The departure of Sadio Mané has already heralded a new dawn for the Reds, and it is the first signal of a changing of the guard under Jürgen Klopp‘s tenure.
Alongside him, Liverpool are also saying farewell to another icon in Divock Origi (for free) as well as Takumi Minamino (who seems destined for a £15m move to AS Monaco) this summer. The pair of them combined made 21 goal contributions in all competitions and the void they leave behind will have to be filled partly by the arrival of Fábio Carvalho.
But Liverpool cannot rely on Carvalho alone and with FSG being reluctant to purchase a back-up forward, this summer could present the perfect opportunity for one of Liverpool’s academy stars to gain promotion into the first team and establish his future at the club.
Oakley Cannonier enjoyed an unprecedented campaign in front of goal for the club’s academy last season. The 18-year-old forward, who was the ball boy to give the ball to Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool’s fourth goal against Barcelona in the Champions League a few seasons ago, scored 41 goals at academy level last season.
That amount of goals should raise Klopp’s attention alone. Cannonier has an innate understanding of how to position himself and where the goal is at any given time on the pitch.
His anticipation and finishing are two of his best assets and while he is a raw talent with much still to improve on, Klopp could give him an opportunity in pre-season. Should he catch the eye, Cannonier could fill the void left behind by Minamino and Origi in the club’s domestic cup fixtures next season.
In terms of his finishing, he is undoubtedly ready for the step up. There will be concerns about his diminutive stature, though with Cannonier standing at just 167 centimetres he is far below the height of a typical number nine in the modern game and could fall short in physical battles coming up against defenders who are much taller.
However, if he can adapt his body and game to handle that challenge, Liverpool could still have a very tidy player in Cannonier — one who has shown after his 41 goals that he has the potential to play a role in the club’s domestic cup campaigns in the next couple of seasons to come.