Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has outlined plans for Ben Woodburn’s next stage of development so that the youngster can have a long-term stay at Anfield.
The 17-year-old signed a new three-year deal with the Merseyside club last October, which will run down in 2019. He will become eligible to sign a long-term deal on his 18th birthday on 15 October and there are already talks over a new five-year contract.
Woodburn impressed for Wales in their last two fixtures during the international break. The teenager came on as a substitute to score a stunner on his debut in his national side’s 1-0 win Austria in the World Cup qualifier on 2 September.
He continued his impressive form as he assisted Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal in their 2-0 win over Moldova. He has impressed for his club as Woodburn’s goal in the last season’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Leeds United saw him become Liverpool’s youngest goalscorer in their history at 17 years and 45 days.
Klopp has seen him closely during the first team training and was also included in the Reds’ pre-season squad in the summer. The former Borussia Dortmund manager has urged the forward to be patient but believes the player is destined to make his way into Liverpool’s first team.
“From our point of view, it’s clear. It all depends on the player. He is a really patient boy, that’s really good – not only in the game but around,” Klopp explained, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
“He doesn’t expect too much. In the morning he probably has a quick look at his passport, ‘Oh, still 17’ – he is a fantastic boy. I know the world around is getting more and more crazy and we help with all we can.
“There are so many stories from the past when very young boys showed up and later you didn’t hear anything of them anymore. It will not happen with Ben.
“I think he is in the best hands here at Liverpool. We will do the right thing; he will play youth, he will play Under-23s, he will play first-team football. The main message is he needs to play football. He trains with us always and then we will decide each weekend where he can play.
“Our target is that we have him in the first team because we like him, we see his quality and that’s the main thing. But for us it’s not too important if it’s tomorrow or in a year, it’s just important that we can use him then. That’s what we try to prepare.”
Woodburn has already featured for Liverpool Under-23s this season. During the course of the season, he is likely to get minutes with the first team in the domestic cup competitions, along with other youngsters.