One To Watch: Kop kid Kaide set for Anfield stardom

Kaide Gordon became Liverpool’s youngest ever FA Cup goalscorer after firing home the equaliser in their 4-1 win over Shrewsbury on Sunday. Aged just 17 years and 96 days, Gordon smashed the record previously held by Sheyi Ojo, who netted aged 18 and 215 days during the 2015-16 season. It was the highlight of an all-round performance which cemented the teenage winger’s reputation as one of the Reds’ brightest young prospects. Ahead of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal on Thursday, we turn the spotlight on the Anfield starlet. Gordon spent his entire youth career at Derby up until his move to Liverpool last February. The then 16-year-old was given his first taste of senior football in a 4-0 Championship victory over Birmingham in December 2020. A confident and assured right winger who loves to drift inside and threaten goal, Gordon’s potential to reach higher levels has long been clear to see. And with the East Midlands outfit in a desperate situation financially, the £3million compensation they agreed upon meant a move to Merseyside suited to all parties.  Rams manager Wayne Rooney, who knows a thing or two about breaking through at a young age, was glowing in his appraisal of Gordon last term. He said: “Kaide is a fantastic player and he has got a lot of potential. “I brought Kaide up with the first team initially to train with us for a week to see how he reacted to it and he was one of the best trainers. “I kept him with us for a couple of weeks and he’s been training at the same level — if not to a better level — than a lot of the other players.” Liverpool’s academy was where Gordon continued his development for the remainder of the 2020-21 season but he has been given a chance to impress in the first-team ranks this term. The forward played the full 90 minutes of the Reds’ early-season Carabao Cup encounter with Norwich — a remarkable feat considering he was still 16 at the time. Gordon is just one of several academy stars who been given the limelight this season and in Jurgen Klopp, he has a manager who is willing to give youth a chance. Following the youngster’s display at Carrow Road, Klopp said: “Kaide Gordon, he is ready for these moments, he’s just ready for it. “He’s 16 but got in a lot of good situations and I was really impressed with his physicality. “If he can go on to play 90 minutes that shows he is really strong.” More time impressing in the academy has followed but a recent coronavirus outbreak in the Liverpool squad presented Gordon with another opportunity when the FA Cup came around last weekend. League One outfit Shrewsbury were giving Liverpool an almighty scare at Anfield in the first half of their third-round clash, with a Daniel Udoh finish allowing the jubilant away fans to dream that an upset was on the cards. But up stepped Gordon to slot home an important equaliser before half-time and halt the plucky underdogs’ momentum, showing strong character when faced with considerable adversity. His landmark goal also makes him Liverpool’s second youngest ever scorer in all competitions, netting at an earlier age than the likes of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Trent Alexander-Arnold. And the way in which he turned inside and dispatched the finish had the composure of all of those predecessors.  Klopp said of the strike: “That’s Kaide. When he is in these situations he is really calm.  “I am not saying he will always score in these situations in the rest of his career but I am pretty sure more often than not, because that’s just him.  “When a cross comes in from the left side, it will find him in the box. He has a nose for it.” Gordon’s first Liverpool goal has come at arguably the perfect time for enhancing his first-team hopes. With two of the club’s top scorers in Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane currently away for the Africa Cup of Nations, there is an opportunity to impress. Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino seem the two most likely to start, but Gordon may feel he has a chance to beat out Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi for the third spot in that attacking trio. And as a right winger who enjoys cutting in on his left foot to shoot, you could argue that Gordon possesses traits most similar to talisman Salah. Klopp has suggested the 17-year-old will not be rushed into first-team duties with the club determined to get his development right.  But he did open the door for Premier League minutes before the end of the season. The German boss said: “There is a way to go, no problem. Kaide has time and we will give him the time. He will have his minutes here and there.” If Gordon can continue to deliver on his promise, there is every chance he could be the next Anfield hero to break through.

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