Remember when Bruno Cheyrou was the next Zidane, and his mate Sinama-Pongolle was about to have the same impact in the Premier League as Thierry Henry did?
Well, the days of us signing unknown but “highly rated” 21 year olds are over. We’re now signing highly rated but unknown 16 year olds! Happy days.
So who is the latest addition to our decent, but under-utilised academy?
Ki-Jana Hoever, that’s who
The fact that there is a (terrible) joke to be made about his name sort-of reading like ‘whoever’ is apt because we probably won’t see much of him for a few years. But nevertheless, I’ve had a good old look at our new boy.
Signed from Ajax for what is likely to be a pittance, Ki-Jana will join the u18s set-up at Kirkby as soon as he is granted international clearance, which is expected by the end of this month.
Primarily a right-back, though also comfortable on either side of the center-back position, he looks just the type of defensive player Klopp appreciates. He’s fast, comfortable on the ball, technically competent, and offensively minded. Oh, and he knows how to find top-bins from a dead ball situation.
In his debut season with Ajax u17s, he appeared in all but one game, scoring twice and assisting once (all in the same match). He has also played 10 times for the Dutch u15 and u16 teams. So technically he’s an international but I’m not about to start claiming that school boy football is worth paying attention to.
What is worth a shout, however, is that the Ajax coaches were reportedly “devastated to lose him” and he turned down interest from Chelsea and Manchester United to sign for the Reds. If you want to endear yourself to Liverpool supporters, this is a good way to go about it.
So he’s a good player from a fantastic academy, and the potential is definitely there.
All that remains is to speculate on whether he can adjust to life in a new country; most 16 year olds, after all, are barely arsed to wash their spunk socks, let alone move to a strange new place to kick a ball about. Liverpool’s u18s boss, Barry Lewtas, recently addressed this in an interview (the move to Merseyside, not the sock).
“I certainly don’t want to heap too much pressure on him. He’s early in his journey here, he’ll take some time to adapt.
“…moving out at 16 to another country. Credit to him, he speaks fantastic English so that’ll help him settle. I think his English is better than mine!
“It’s big for kids to move to university at 18 – and that’s down the motorway. So for a boy to move country, I wouldn’t underestimate the time it takes to adapt.”
Time will tell whether our new Dutchman will make the grade, but he comes from a place with excellent stock, and judging by his references and what little footage there is available of him – Ki-Jana Hoever looks like the dog’s bollocks.
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