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Liverpool signed 16-year-old centre-back before leap ‘never’ seen before

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The progress made by summer signing Amara Nallo has surprised many in his start at Liverpool, with the defender told he “doesn’t play like a 16-year-old.”

Liverpool made three smart moves to bolster their academy ranks over the summer, with Nallo arriving from West Ham, Trey Nyoni signed from Leicester and Harvey Owen joining from Wolves.

Those clubs’ loss is widely considered the Reds’ gain, as their attempts to coax the best young British talents to Merseyside pays off.

Nyoni has already captured the headlines for his start to life with Liverpool U18s, with four goals and three assists in five games for the midfielder.

But Nallo’s rise has arguably been even more impressive, with the 16-year-old starting each of the last four games for Liverpool U21s.

Liverpool

Tall, strong and composed on the ball, the left-sided centre-back has impressed in those meetings with youth sides from Monaco, Crystal Palace and Benfica, as well as League Two outfit Blackpool.

Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Benfica saw Nallo start alongside Jarell Quansah, with U21s coach Barry Lewtas reflecting on his form after the game.

“Amara was excellent,” Lewtas told the club’s official website.

“Him and Carter Pinnington have been playing quite regularly for us so far together.

“Listen, he is just 16, and I don’t think we’ve ever asked a lad that young to play at centre-back against senior opposition.

“He should be really proud of his performance.

“I think the main thing for Amara is he played ever so well but he didn’t let any kind of mistakes or momentum shifts in the game affect him.

“So he didn’t play like a 16-year-old, that’s for sure.”

Like Nallo, Carter Pinnington is another 16-year-old thrust into the U21s setup this season, regularly playing against strikers far older than them.

It appears as though the summer signing from West Ham is just edging Pinnington in the coaches’ estimations at this stage, having been preferred for the clashes with Monaco and Benfica.

Liverpool

But Lewtas’ praise extends to both players, with the decision – albeit enforced by the absence of other, more senior defenders – to start both against Blackpool in the EFL Trophy showing real faith in their ability.

Quansah has now laid the pathway for Liverpool’s next generation of young centre-backs hoping to break through into the first-team setup.

While it could be a long time before Nallo and Pinnington are trusted – or, frankly, required – the early signs are hugely promising.

 

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