Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool have made a statement of intent by tying three of their younger players to new contracts.
Kevin Stewart and Trent Alexander-Arnold have agreed deals until 2021, with the reserve-team striker Ben Woodburn’s contract taking him up to 2019.
Klopp thinks it encourages academy youngsters with ambitions to break into the first team now they can see there is a route for them to make the step up.
The German has also invited many of the academy players to train with the first team at Melwood, particularly during the international breaks when the manager is low on numbers, and according to him it helps to ease the transition.
“The most important thing for us is the pathway to the first team,” he added. “I think we have shown that with the work Alex [Inglethorpe, the academy director] and his staff do we offer a clear pathway to first-team football if the players embrace what is on offer for them.”
“I cannot praise them [the academy] enough for the culture and environment they have there. It is perfect. The players know that it’s not just about ability: it’s application and a willingness to keep learning.”
Stewart, aged 23, has already made 17 appearances for the first team while Alexander-Arnold, 18, made his debut in last month’s EFL Cup victory against Tottenham Hotspur.Woodburn, 17, featured in a couple of pre-season friendlies and has continued to impress for the under-23s.
“This is really positive news of course, and it’s brilliant we have acted decisively to show our intent with our young players,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com. “With Kev it is maybe a little different. He is of course established with us now and making a contribution as an important member of our first-team squad.”
“Trent spends most of his time with the first team in this moment and is progressing each and every day. Ben is in those earlier stages and has a lot of developing to do still – but wow, what an exciting talent he is.”
“All three of these players are big talents and are at different stages of their development, but it is development that is key and they must continue to learn and improve to achieve their full potential. News like today makes it exciting for me and the first-team staff that their development will continue with us at LFC.”