Liverpool wait is nearly over after 532 days for talent that Pep Lijnders called a ‘new player’

Liverpool has a top talent who has been missing for some time. Pep Lijnders is a big fan but the Reds will continue to be patient as he makes a return to action.

Liverpool always has at least one top young talent that is hoping to emerge. At the moment, there are a good few that have a chance of making it in the Premier League — and hopefully at Anfield.

Ben Doak is perhaps the name on most people’s lips heading into the summer while Stefan Bajčetićstill falls into that category despite his emergence last season, and Bobby Clark was handed his senior league debut during the last campaign.

It seems like a long time since Liverpool won 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium thanks to two goals from Diogo Jota. That was the season before last, about a year after Bajčetić was brought in from Celta Vigo.

Since then, Liverpool has finished that quadruple-chasing season and completed another full campaign. A full 532 days later (and counting), another young talent who started in that Carabao Cup semi-final game is still on the recovery trail.

Kaide Gordon returned to running on the grass at the AXA Training Centre in May, but is now set to step up his comeback ahead of pre-season. That fixture against Arsenal was one of his four senior appearances to date.

Still only 18, though, and not 19 until October, the former Derby County youngster — who played for Wayne Rooney in the Championship more than two years ago — remains very highly rated.

“They start with the U23s training and I went to the U23s training ground to watch and I see one player and he has fire in each moment he touched the ball,” Pep Lijnders said when discussing Gordon in 2021 (the U23s set-up has since become U21s).

“He passes players like they are not standing there so I call Jürgen like, ‘Wow, we have a new player here’. We take all these young players to pre-season and you know you have a good player around you is when the senior players start taking care of this young player.

When you see James Milner speaking with Kaide. When you see Trent [Alexander-Arnold] becoming a proper mentor. When you see them invite him to sit on the table. All our boys in our group invited him and it made it, not easier, but good for him to adapt to our team and to our style.”

This time around, it is unlikely that Gordon will be on the first-team pre-season, but that does not mean that he has been forgotten about — far from it.

“As hard as it is, he probably just needs to reintegrate into the U21s in pre-season, find his feet and see how he is,” Academy director Alex Inglethorpe told The Athletic recently. “He’s got to learn to trust his body again and get his rhythm back. After that, anything is possible.”

Gordon has the skill set of a typical Liverpool winger and has already shown a tendency to be able to contribute in the final third on a regular basis. In 23 league games at youth level for the Reds, he has netted 13 goals and provided four assists.

“What you see a lot with these kinds of wingers, they can now play, they can combine,” Lijnders continued. “He has a goal in him and he has this natural ability to be in the box between the goalposts to score, even when the cross comes from the other side, and not many talents have that.

“They have maybe dribbling skills but they don’t have this desire to shoot and come in the box to score. He is a typical Liverpool Football Club winger in my opinion because he has goals, he has speed. We really like him and we’re really happy he’s with us.”

When he does return and is fully available — and Liverpool will continue to be very careful — a loan move could be on the cards. Still only 18, Gordon remains a huge talent to watch in the new season despite being out for so long.

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