27 Nov 2013

LFC want me: Striker who's 'like RVP' confirms Reds transfer 'offer'. Career suicide...?

Halmstads BK striker Valmir Berisha has confirmed that several top-flight clubs - including Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur - have put in offers to sign him.

Speaking to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet last night, the 17-year old striker claimed:

"I have got offers from from England, Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and Russia.

"The clubs who have shown the biggest interest are Ajax, Milan, Liverpool, Sunderland, Tottenham and Celtic.

"They have all offered me a contract. But it is a matter of choosing the right one, that is the most important."

Liverpool have been linked with Berisha - described as being 'like Robin Van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic' - several times over the last couple of months, and his comments confirm claims from his Agent, Anders Karlsson, who told reporters recently:

"I can say that there are teams from England, Germany, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Italy. The interest is high from England, as well as the power of the pound."

Berisha grabbed seven goals in seven games for Sweden in the recent U17 World Cup (won by Nigeria), and when asked about his expectations for his next club, he explained:

"I want to join a club who need a striker. Then I can exploit that to get playing time. I don't think I will join a very big club. My agent has give me suggestions, but he lets me decide."

This seems to rule out a move to Liverpool. There is zero chance of an untested 17-year old striker with zero experience getting regular playing time at Anfield.

The Reds arguably need striker back-up, but a teenager is not going to cut it, and given his comments, it doesn't seem like Berisha is amenable to spending three or more years toiling in LFC's academy. The most common career path for academy strikers is:

* 1-3 years in the academy.
* Farmed out on loan to lower-league sides.
* Disappear into obscurity on a free transfer, never to be heard from again.

Before making a decision, Berisha should examine the fortunes of teenage strikers at Anfield over the last 25 years. In that time period, only Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler have progressed through the academy to become regular starters for LFC.

The harsh truth is that Liverpool is a graveyard for young, developing strikers. That is not negativity, it is historical reality, and in my view, Berisha would be foolish to move to Anfield at this stage of his career.



  1. I think your pessimism is well warranted there Jamie, no sure what it is about the Liverpool academy, but I wonder if such 'rejects' as Daniel Pacheco or Thomas Ince might have done better at any of the other youth academies say Southampton, Ajax, Arsenal or Barca. It could just be a case of developing their talents and jumping to the next club which offers them more sustained time in or around the first team, but is that something that detracts from the work done at the academy? And what impact will McParland and Borrell's dismissal have on the way things are going?

  2. It's better for him to develop his game in Holland before moving to the prem.

  3. Good point about McParland and Borrell. The academy is a bit up in the air right now, which makes it another gamble for young players to move to LFC. Agree with you that Pacheco or Ince may have done better at a different youth academy, perhaps one where technical ability is prioritised over physical capability.

  4. What great strikers have come out of the academy in recent years?
    Zero so wouldnt say its a graveyard if your good enough you will get a look in if your not bad luck.

  5. Recent years? What about the last 25 years? Are we to believe that the no strikers with the ability to flourish have come through the academy in all that time (save Fowler and Owen)? If that's the case, there's either a problem with scouting, or a problem with coaching.

  6. Well no Owens or Fowlers have arrived from the academy to other clubs and flourished so yes didnt have the players.
    Of course it was scouting Liverpool had been well and truly out done by Everton on the local bit so theres a start.
    Not worried about it now though heaps of talent in the academy and the club is really heading in the right direction.

  7. Agree with your historical points but they seem to have woken up to the problem and are looking to improve in future. That seems to be what BR has implied with his comments about the young stars not being ready for the first team.

  8. strikers do not come thru academies and stay at that club.
    Look at the top clubs and they all buy their strikers.
    Liverpool are no different.
    Why pick on the Reds Academy ?
    Apply the same standards to all top EPL clubs and you will have a more
    balanced view.

  9. I'm really sad about this, but have to agree. I think Rafa did good work with his academy overhaul, but it still never got to where it needed to be. Much better to grow players organically rather than keep paying 20-30M for supposedly, ready made players.
    Having dismantled the last part of Rafa's good work at the academy, let's hope BR has a decent plan going forward.
    Playing time in competitive matches is a crucial part of a young player's development and we only seem to turn to our promising youngsters when we have a crisis. i.e. Flanagan and Wisdom recently and Sterling last season.
    It is a difficult balance though. How to make sure that you snap up the best talent for the future and not fritter it away in the way you described. FSG must have this issue very high on their agenda, if only for good business reasons.

  10. I honestly believe that if Liverpool scrapped the academy tomorrow, it wouldn't make any difference.

  11. That's really sad if true. The academy does have a significant cost and if it doesn't give us at least one first team/squad player every year, it probably should be scrapped. I hope it get's sorted, because we all want to see young players come through.

  12. There was this young Argentinian - not the one from Verona, one that was linked earlier - we should get him.

  13. Well there would still have been no Carragher or Gerrard if that was the case sure Everton would have loved em.
    If you were to scrap academies altogether you really think the standard of English football would be the same?

  14. I think the whole reason behind the recent sackings at the academy is that although there were a lot of 'promising' players, there really weren't any that could easily slot into the first team. Rafa did a massive overhaul of the youth setup and it was definitely needed, however (and especially in Borrell's case) Spain this isn't. English players haven't traditionally been nurtured in the same way as Spanish players, so despite the pedigree of people behind the scene's (until now) we have still failed to unearth any REAL gems. My advice would be to snare the folks at Southampton as they always seem to churn out good first teamers (if that's even a word). Bale, Walcott (I know, meh), Oxlaide, Lalana, Rodrigues, Shaw, Ward-Prowse? etc And that's in the last 10 years or so. Something's wrong somewhere and it needs sorting pronto.

  15. Give LFC's failure over the last 25 years to produce young players who become first-teamers, I don't see the point of U15/16/17/18s. Just have higher age-groups - U20/21, and recruit players in that age group, with the intention of making the ready for the first team. Let them get youth training (from child to 18 yrs) elsewhere. That would save LFC so much money, and save on countless teenagers falling by the wayside.

  16. Good, typically fearless and provocative points Jamie! It's hard, though, to compare our era with the 70s and 80s, where the competitiveness of the leagues was so much higher, with smaller squads and a different role for reserve football. But the structural and cultural changes in football today mean that we need planned development of youngsters in order to furnish us with potential first team players and with competition within the club's training hierarchies.

    First, careers were shorter: it was almost unheard of for players to continue after 30 until the late 90s. This meant that first-team places were more regularly up for grabs. Many routine injuries also had longer recovery times then than they do now, and strains that would be treated with injections now used to keep players out. So there were more first-team opportunities within clubs, and those opportunities were more likely to have lasting consequences.

    Competition between the clubs was also different. In fact it could be argued that the emphasis was implicitly on collaboration than on competition in pursuit of sporting excellence. Players would routinely work their way up through the divisions, whether playing for several clubs or staying put as a club moved up and down the leagues. Career development was about gathering experience, physical and mental resilience. Clubs in the top flight would almost invariably sign from their competitors or from the lower leagues (or from Scotland), whose level was much closer to that of the top flight than is the case now.

    I don't want this to turn into an essay, and the ways in which things are different now is obvious enough. My point is, anyway, that I think there's a connection between the need for internal youth development, or education, and the external conditions of competition in the new context of the last 20 years, which we can't wish away.

  17. Do you know any strikers from the pool academy that have left and gone on to become even slightly above average players? Not taunting, just asking, as my knowledge on these things is really poor. I think that the liverpool staff from top to bottom was not competent enough until Benitez stepped in. Liverpool never really kept up with the times and probably got left in the 80's whereas the rest of the clubs progressed. Nearly all the good talent which is coming out of the academy now can be credited to Rafa Benitez.

  18. Pacheco maybe classified as a reject but Thomas Ince was offered a contract by liverpool which he rejected to get more playing time.

  19. Hardly any, and that's the point. The quality of scouting/coaching is clearly poor if the clubs has failed to regularly produce players over the last 20 years.

  20. Suso may prove you wrong.

  21. The folks at Southampton already got snared by Fulham!

  22. Great points, Robo. You're right, things have changed a lot since the 70s and 80s. It's the 'planned development' of youngsters that seems to have gone awry, though. For 20+ years hundreds (if not thousands) of young players have passed through LFC's academy/youth set-up, and less than 10 have actually made it as top-flight professionals for LFC: Gerrard, Carragher, Owen, McManaman, Fowler, and the current crop, none of whom can be classed as regulars yet. It's hard to fathom.

    Is there really a need for a continual conveyor belt of youngsters? Clearly not, since hardly any of them ever make it. Perhaps it would be better to return to the old template: have a reserve team, and bring players into that system.

  23. I disagree a bit. There's only so much onus you can put on the youth coaches, the rest is up to the players in terms of their own ability and the places they go as well as the first team manager who picks the 11 and 7 subs every match. Kirkby is not La Masia but I think we are doing okay.

    No striker has come through since Owen but the reality is the majority of youngsters at every club never make it as a professional or become professional but drop down the leagues. Your Gerrard's and Owen's are rare. Hopefully Suso and Sterling develop nicely but I'm happy with those two as well as the likes of Flanagan, Kelly, Wisdom...It would be nice if a mid comes through, maybe Rossiter or Lussey.

    Something behind the scenes definitely went on regarding the sackings. I'm leaning towards the rumour that there was interest from other clubs. I don't think it's about players slotting into the first team, Flanagan is going to do that now and Kelly, Wisdom and Sterling have all done that in the past.

  24. In an interview a while ago, Borrell confirmed that about 50% of the kids in the academy were Scouse. Definitely falls in line with the 'planned development' idea that you mentioned. Simply, they want to produce Gerrard's. But we may never see someone come through the system and have the impact and career Gerrard has had for decades.

    Not every youngster makes it but that's the reality of all clubs, not just ours. It would be interesting to see a comparison of how many youngsters have been brought through and introduced to the first team between PL clubs.

    I think our expectations are too high. One or two first teamers every few years would be nice, but even if the likes of Wisdom, Kelly, Flanagan, Sterling et al. become squad players I'd be satisfied with that. It's better than 15M on Allen for example. The conveyer belts are necessary because no club will sell their brightest 18 year old prospect unless there is crazy money thrown about. And certainly with LFC there's a sense of pride with local born players and that's something we've done okay with recently.

  25. or maybe there was just a clash of heads between Rodgers, Borrell and McParland regarding the new direction the club is planning on going?

    There is a small part of me that agrees with Jaimie that it would make n difference if the academy was scrapped as the point of the academy is to produce players from within that eventually are good enough for the first team. The players who have made it to first team level of late have been sourced from other clubs.

    Hopefully the changes that have been made will start producing our own local talent again like we saw in the 90's.

  26. That's also a possibility. It could be anything but IMO it's definitely something behind the scenes rather than just "changing direction" or whatever Ian Ayre said. You have to put the events into perspective. These aren't contracts not being renewed, these are two well respected and highly regarded, not to mention experienced members of staff that have been sacked mid season. As of yet, no replacements have been brought in. BR spoke about his good relationship with Rodolfo because they have similar football ideas, he's seemingly perfect for Rodgers. IMO something big went on.

    Disagree to a certain extent regarding the academy. Yes ideally, we'd prefer local talent but every club sources the world over for young talents. Suso is a nice example. No Gerrard or Owen has come through but if Suso and Sterling develop, I'd be satisfied with the output of the academy. It looks increasingly likely that players such as Kelly, Wisdom, Flanagan and some others may just turn out to be squad players for us, but I don't have a problem with that.

  27. QPR should be given the credit for Sterling. They developed him from a very young age. That is the problem our academy is sitting with. Andre Wisdom is not a product of our academy either.

    How much money gets pumped into our academy every season? Surely it should have the next Gerrard, Fowler or Mcmanaman lined up unless there are some youngsters being kept a secret?

  28. It's like a microcosm of the economic model of the "churn": large numbers of young people on relatively inexpensive (from the employers perspective) temporary contracts competing for tenure, or a permanent role, or just a longer spell in the churn; with a high rate of attrition and mobility among them: or, if you prefer, a high rate of exploitation.

    In the economy generally I find this practice disgusting, really. I think employers should work harder to accept the limitations of their employees, to support and develop them, and to help them find fulfillment and happiness in their work, rather than just regarding them as cheap commodities to be exploited for profit.

    As in the world at large, it would take a major change in the whole structure to make that kind of vision a reality. In football it would mean big changes for us; we'd have to be much more accepting of failure, more patient and forgiving; less given to rivalry and antagonism. We'd have to grow the fuck up, basically. It would mean big changes for the distribution of resources throughout the league pyramid. So maybe you're right, that under present conditions it's just pointless to keep these youth programs going, because if they were to be really taken seriously and to do the work they were established to do, the whole of football would need to change.

    But I sort of like that they represent the possibility that football *might* change in the future, become something more rational, more humane, more... I don't know. Less like the disease and more like the cure.


  29. Both Sterling and Wisdom did come through the academy and neither were close to being first team players when they arrived so yes the Liverpool academy had a bearing on them.

  30. But bot players are not a product of our academy. That is the point!!!

    Our academy should be producing it's own players and clearly it isn't.

    Wisdom is not ready for the first team yet, hence him going on loan and Sterling started well last season but has done nothing to impress lately.

    I am referring to players like Mcmanaman, Fowler, Carra and Gerrard etc PRODUCTS OF LFC. These players could step into any team in the world when they broke into the LFC first team. The same cannot be said about players coming through at the moment whether it be players sourced from the outside or coming through the ranks.

  31. 20 years? maybe since Gerrard which was 15 years ago but since then the only Scouser to really make an impact on the first team has been Martin Kelly and he would have been under the guidance of Steve Heighway.

    Not sure why Rafa decided to let go of Heighway.


  32. As suicides go, career suicide is one of the most agreeable.

  33. If he is that good and not expensive/ buy him and loan him to Sunderland.

  34. Never trust quotes from Daily Mail and other tabloids. "didn't feel right" just about as diplomatic an answer as it could get.

  35. Please give me an example of an English top league club that has done any better over the same time period?

  36. If I was him I'd go to Ajax.

  37. Perhaps you're right, but that just means it's a league-wide issue, rather than just an LFC issue. Just because other teams are failing at youth level too doesn't mean LFC should continue to do so, surely?

  38. Lol at Thompson being an honourable man, he's one the nastiest pieces of work in football... so incredibly bitter, and that nose. What a whopper.

  39. You're smoking the same stuff as Wenger.
    No way will we sell for £40m, we turned that down out of hand last summer