Liverpool might have completed three signings at senior level this summer already in Darwin Núñez, Fábio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay, but their work extends well beyond that.
Highly-rated Celtic forward Ben Doak, 16, has also been signed, while the focus on British talents (thanks to Brexit regulations complicating young transfers from abroad) has led them to Irish youth international Trent Kone Doherty, 15.
Not turning 16 until Thursday, Kone Doherty has already made his first team debut for Derry City. With their focus on only the best young players to add to their academy system, it is a deal that makes sense for Liverpool.
Both Manchester clubs and Celtic were also linked with moves for Kone Doherty, but Liverpool won the race — and that has seemingly now been confirmed by his U17s manager at Derry.
“Trent certainly does have all the attributes to do well,” Gerald Boyle told the Derry Journal. “Trent has that X-factor; he’s got something special. His one-on-one ability is excellent. He has got serious, serious pace but the biggest thing about him is that he has a brilliant attitude.
“He is so receptive to information, he wants to learn all the time and he’s a great teammate as well. Those qualities, as well as his physical and technical abilities, will take him a long way because he’s a great kid to work with and, as I said, he wants to learn and get better. Hopefully, that takes him a long, long way in the game.
“Of course, it’s going to be tough. The Premier League is a tough environment but you know what, Trent has got a really, really good chance because he has got that something special. Liverpool, in particular, go for quality over quantity; they don’t go for big numbers at their academy.
“It’s a credit to everybody who has worked with Trent down the years from his boys club coaches and to every coach that has had him at Derry City, they have all helped him on that journey to get to Liverpool. Obviously there’s a lot of natural ability and his family will also have put in a lot of work with him as well.”
Liverpool, via the framework put in place by academy director Alex Inglethorpe, their U18s and U23s coaches, first-team link Vitor Matos, senior coaches Jürgen Klopp and Pep Lijnders, and the £50m FSG investment in the AXA Training Centre bringing everyone together on one site, have created a pathway to the top.
Carvalho, at the later end of the spectrum at 19, and Kone Doherty at 15, are the evidence that young talents see Liverpool as a club with the perfect blend: a top team competing for titles with a top manager, but also one where opportunities will come to those who are the elite end of the youth age groups.
After Trent Alexander-Arnold came Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, while Tyler Morton could yet follow and Kaide Gordon is expected to continue progressing. That is quite the conveyor belt of players, with a clear plan in place for each as to what comes next — an appealing sales pitch in itself for the next big things.
The best thing for Liverpool is the more that players like Elliott are successful, the more of the ‘next’ Elliott they will be able to attract in a virtuous circle.
“I’m quite a direct player. My two strengths would be my one-vs-one ability and my pace,” Kone Doherty said in an interview with the Irish FA in April. Liverpool fans might soon be able to see that first hand, with the teenager likely to work with the Reds’ U18s team — coached by Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and soon Jay Spearing — next season once the deal is officially complete.