Liverpool have three academy prospects to get excited about after their under-18s thrashed Jack Wilshere’s Arsenal side 7-1 in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup at the weekend. The Reds’ young side were ruthless at the Kirkby academy on Saturday night with Lewis Koumas scoring a hat-trick.
Jayden Danns and Trent Kone-Doherty also bagged braces in a brilliant result against an Arsenal team boasting the highly-rated Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly. Asked if Koumas, Danns and Kone-Doherty were ‘unplayable’, manager Marc Bridge-Wilkinson said: “Yeah, they definitely were tonight.
“It’s a really interesting blend, they are each different, they each threaten the opposition back line in a different way. When we can get them – like tonight – playing together, combining together and starting to work with each other, obviously they are really threatening.”
Hat-trick hero Koumas is the son of former Wales international Jason Koumas, who played for Tranmere, West Brom and Wigan. The 18-year-old signed his first professional contract a year ago and scored 16 goals at youth level last season.
An unused substitute at first-team level in the Europa League loss at Union Saint-Gilloise in December, Koumas has four goals in five under-21 Premier League matches this term. And he showed his pedigree in front of goal again in the thrashing of Arsenal.
So did the Liverpool-born Danns, who himself is the son of a former footballer, and scored a wonderful free-kick. Jayden’s dad Neil played for Birmingham, Crystal Palace and Leicester in the Championship. Also 18, Danns Jr – who can play in midfield and attack like Koumas – scored 10 goals as a first-year scholar last year.
The England under-18 international has nine goals in nine games in the U18 Premier League this season as well as four goals in two FA Youth Cup matches. He also scored on his under-21s debut against Brighton in mid-January and signed his first professional contract just this month.
While Koumas joined Liverpool’s academy as an under-11 and Danns was just eight years old, Kone-Doherty only arrived in July 2022. The 17-year-old Irishman joined from Derry City for around £150,000 and has caught the eye since.
He scored nine goals in his first 10 games and also netted on his under-21s debut, like Danns, back in August. The 2006-born left-sided winger has six goals in seven U18 league games so far this season after penning a pro contract in October.
While only so much can be taken from their stats at youth level, that the trio are regularly involved in the final third at U18, U19 and U21 level promises plenty. Their performances against Arsenal show that, injury permitting, they appear to have big futures ahead of them.
They will have to wait a little longer yet for their senior bows, but Klopp has put his faith in youth plenty of times before. He’s done so this season and last with Jarell Quansah and Stefan Bajcetic, while Harvey Elliott and Conor Bradley are important members of the first-team squad after successful loan spells away from Anfield.
It might take a loan or two until the likes of Koumas, Danns and Kone-Doherty are playing under Klopp. But performances like this one against Arsenal will help their prospects of impressing the German coach.