Dominic Solanke: Can England's Golden Boy Follow Ten Of The Best Teenage Buys At Liverpool? - The Anfield Wrap

CHESTER, WALES - Monday, March 2, 2015: Chelsea's Dominic Solanke in action against Liverpool during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at Deva Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ENGLAND Under-20s’ World Cup win over the weekend gave the country reason to believe the future is bright, but more importantly it gave Reds reason to be positive about new signing Dominic Solanke.

The 19-year-old scored four goals to help guide the Young Lions to glory and was awarded player of the tournament — an accolade previously awarded to Paul Pogba, Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona no less.

But there still seems to be apprehension about the signing of Solanke among Reds. It’s seen as the typical Fenway Sports Group-style signing by people who remain suspicious of the owners’ every move. But one of the attractions of having Jürgen Klopp as manager is that he has a good record of developing young players.

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Chelsea wanted to keep hold of Solanke, and his status as young, English and a goalscorer, makes him the type of player that would usually demand a premium price (which is why his former club are reportedly now looking for £10million in compensation).

Liverpool have a long history of buying young and while some buys haven’t made the grade, plenty have. Here are 10 teenage signings that proved a success at Anfield:

Emlyn Hughes

Bought from: Blackpool

Fee: £65,000

When: February 27, 1967

Age when signed: 19

Bill Shankly did almost everything in his power to get hold of this particular teenager. Hughes was playing for Blackpool when he caught Shanks’ eye and apparently the Scot used to phone him every Sunday morning to tell him he would be playing for Liverpool soon — the sort of thing which Southampton would take you to task for in the modern day…

Eventually Shankly got his man and “Crazy Horse” now holds his place in the top 10 all-time appearance makers in Liverpool’s history. The first Liverpool captain to lift the European Cup, Hughes won nine trophies during his 13-year spell with the Reds made up of four league titles, one FA Cup, two European Cups and two UEFA Cups.

Ray Clemence

Bought from: Scunthorpe United

Fee: £18,000

When: June 24, 1967

Age when signed: 18 

At just 18, Clemence had already made 46 appearances for Scunthorpe United in the Third Division and Bill Shankly saw him as the natural successor to Tommy Lawrence. Nevertheless, ‘Clem’ had to play two-and-a-half seasons with the reserves — only making the odd cup appearance in the first team — before his big chance arrived.

His first league appearance came on January 31, 1970, and he established himself as number one quickly, missing just six league matches in the following 11 years and going on to make 470 league appearances in total. His honours include five league titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, three European Cups and two UEFA Cups.

Jimmy Case

Bought from: South Liverpool

Fee: £500

When: May 1, 1973

Age when signed: 18

Case was spotted playing for the now defunct South Liverpool by Shankly’s right-hand man Tom Saunders. The Allerton-born midfielder was offered a two-week trial at Anfield, for which he had to take two weeks off work. And Jimmy’s day job got in the way once The Reds tried to officially sign him as he was two years into a four-year term as an apprentice electrician, and he wanted to see it through.

After two years on a part-time contract, he signed a professional deal and made his debut just before he turned 21. The tough-tackling midfielder went on to make 269 appearances in red, scoring 46 goals, winning four league titles, one League Cup, three European Cups and one UEFA Cup.

Ronnie Whelan

Bought from: Home Farm

Fee: £35,000

When: September 19, 1979

Age when signed: 17

Whelan had made quite the impression playing for his local team back in Dublin and was being courted by several English clubs before he had turned 18. Despite spending some time as a trainee at Manchester United, it was Liverpool who Whelan eventually chose when he permanently decamped from Ireland.

He would have to bide his time at first but eventually succeeded Ray Kennedy in The Reds’ midfield and made the position his own. In 493 appearances for the club Whelan scored 73 times and helped Liverpool to six league titles, two FA Cups, three League Cups and one European Cup.

Ian Rush

Bought from: Chester

Fee: £300,000

When: May 1, 1980

Age when signed: 18 

Rush was initially spotted by Liverpool as a 13-year-old schoolboy but his first steps into football would be with Chester. The Reds continued to send scouts to Chester’s games to watch the striker and eventually stumped up £300,000 — a world record fee for a youngster at the time.

Things didn’t start as the Welshman would have hoped, to the point where he was considering his future at the club — but Bob Paisley managed to get the best out of him during a spell in the reserves to make him prove he deserved a chance. In two spells Rush made 660 appearances and scored 346 goals, making him the club’s all-time record goal-scorer.

Steve Nicol

Bought from: Ayr United

Fee: £300,000

When: October 22, 1981

Age when signed: 19

Nicol was only part-time before making his move to Liverpool, mixing football with his job as a building labourer. Paisley signed the Scot from Ayr United as Phil Neal’s long-term replacement, though his first appearances in a red shirt would come as a right midfielder.

Nicol’s versatility meant he could feature anywhere across the back four and across midfield, particularly excelling during the 1988-9 season, winning the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award. Nicol made 468 appearances in total and scored 46 goals, with four league titles, three FA Cups and one European Cup in 14 seasons at Anfield.

Listen: Steve Nicol Speaks To The Anfield Wrap

Jamie Redknapp

Bought from: Bournemouth

Fee: £500,000

When: January 15, 1991

Age when signed: 17

Redknapp’s professional career started at Bournemouth under the management of his dad, Harry. Kenny Dalglish first took an interest despite the fact he hadn’t made a first-team appearance for The Cherries. Redknapp spent another year on the south coast before moving to Merseyside, becoming the most expensive 17-year-old in football.

Redknapp wouldn’t get the chance to play for Kenny, however, as the Scot left the club five weeks after his arrival. But Graeme Souness had a lot of faith in Redknapp and, despite being plagued by injuries which eventually forced him into early retirement, he would make 308 appearances for the club and score 41 goals.

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 6, 1996: Liverpool's Jamie Redknapp in action against Coventry City during the Premiership match at Highfield Road. Coventry won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rob Jones

Bought from: Crewe Alexandra

Fee: £300,000

When: October 4, 1991

Age when signed: 19

Liverpool’s scouts spotted Rob Jones almost by accident as they went on a scouting mission to watch a different Crewe Alexandra right-back, except their first choice didn’t perform well and Jones, who had started at left-back, made the best impression on the travelling Reds party.

A couple of days later the boyhood Red, who grew up just outside Ellesmere Port, was making easy work of facing up against Ryan Giggs at Old Trafford. Jones was one of the most exciting prospects at the club and performed well over several years until a series of injury problems threatened to spell the end of his career. Despite that, he made 243 appearances — but, with a bit of luck, it could have been so many more.

Raheem Sterling

Bought from: Queens Park Rangers

Fee: £500,000

When: February 27, 2010

Age when signed: 15

Sterling was picked up from Queens Park Rangers’ academy by Rafael Benitez but his first appearances at the club would come during Kenny Dalglish’s second term — after making waves for The Reds at youth level.

The Jamaican-born forward established himself as a regular under Brendan Rodgers and played a starring role during the 2013-14 season.

In total he made 129 appearances in red, scoring 23 goals before making a big-money move to Manchester City — a move which affected his reputation among Liverpool supporters, though it didn’t make his rapid rise as a Red any less impressive.

Joe Gomez

Bought from: Charlton Athletic

Fee: £6m

When: June 20, 2015

Age when signed: 18

Gomez rose quickly through the ranks at Charlton, making an appearance in the under-18 team when he was just 13, and signing a professional deal at the club despite interest from elsewhere. Liverpool’s interest came as he broke into The Addicks’ first team.

Gomez was seen as a player with great potential who would need time before becoming a first-team player, which made it more surprising when he was thrown straight into Rodgers’ side as a left-back for the first five games of the 2015-16 season. Unfortunately, injury has hindered his game time under Jürgen Klopp but there’s still a belief that Gomez has a bright future at the club.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 28, 2017: Liverpool's Joe Gomez in action against Wolverhampton Wanderers during the FA Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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