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Liverpool: Kaide Gordon showed what all the hype is about as 16-year-old shone on debut

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What were you doing at 16? Anything special? Because Kaide Gordon is laying the groundwork for a promising future at Liverpool with maturity beyond his years. 

At 16 years and 351 days, he became the Reds’ fifth youngest player in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win against Norwich – and this was no late token-gesture substitution either. He started, played 90 minutes and even had a crack at entering the history-books as the club’s youngest ever-scorer. 

But that half-volley – where his technique unusually let him down inside the box – won’t be the reason the ex-Derby player can’t sleep tonight. A giant hug from Jurgen Klopp at full-time, in front of the travelling fans, will be the overriding memory on an unforgettable night. 

Kaide Gordon earned a hug from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp after an impressive debut at 16

Kaide Gordon earned a hug from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp after an impressive debut at 16

The £1m teenager played all 90 minutes in the Reds' comfortable 3-0 victory against Norwich

The £1m teenager played all 90 minutes in the Reds’ comfortable 3-0 victory against Norwich 

He wasn’t the only one too. Klopp started 18-year-old right back Conor Bradley for his first-team debut and Tyler Morton was a composed half-time replacement for Naby Keita in the centre of midfield. 

All three passed their test. While Bradley’s only moment of rashness – bringing down Dimitris Giannoulis in the box – could have cost Liverpool dear, he was reprieved by Caoimhin Kelleher’s save from the spot.  

Yet it was Gordon who everyone had their immediate eye on. From the off the fleet-footed frontman, cutting in naturally on his stronger left-foot from the right, did not look out of place. Rather in fact, he looked completely unnerved. 

That though won’t be a surprise to Liverpool’s coaching staff after Gordon emerged as one of Klopp’s shining lights from July’s pre-season training camp in Austria. 

Since then, he has been involved in the first-team – a dramatic rise since joining for £1million back in February, when the Reds rather satisfyingly beat Manchester United to his signature. 

Tyler Morton (L) also made his debut but it was Gordon whose name was in the spotlight

Tyler Morton (L) also made his debut but it was Gordon whose name was in the spotlight 

Conor Bradley was promising too despite giving away a penalty late in the first-half

Conor Bradley was promising too despite giving away a penalty late in the first-half 

He made his first-team debut for Derby last December, a mere two months after turning 16. Liverpool’s head of senior academy recruitment Matt Newberry was quickly alerted to his potential and a deal was quickly signed.  

The Rams – currently in dire financial straits having entered administration last week – have actually benefited from Gordon’s debut, with a £100,000 payment following his first start. 

Gordon seemed at home from the off. Starting in the Mo Salah role on the right-hand side of a front three, his first touch and composure was first-class, roared on by the travelling contingent of fans next to him. 

An shimmy and step-over inside, all too quick for Billy Gilmour, was an early glimpse of his talent, while a second-half central stride through Norwich’s midfield and a pinpoint through ball to Divock Origi showed he was capable off the flanks too.

Gordon seemed at home from the off with his first touch and composure beyond his years

Gordon seemed at home from the off with his first touch and composure beyond his years 

He had a moment he will want back though. With roles reversed as the Belgian teed him up in the box, Gordon couldn’t lever his left-foot over the ball and spooned his half-volley over the bar. 

That accolade of Liverpool’s youngest goalscorer will remain with Ben Woodburn for the time being. 

Nevertheless, the 16-year-old never shirked his responsibilities off the ball either, gegen-pressing from a young age. Bradley behind him too had a terrific engine up and down all game and his poke through to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain led to Liverpool’s third goal of the night. 

A word too for Morton, who has been at the club since the age of seven. The Kirkby-born midfielder looked calm on the ball and though the opposition was not exactly the most intimidating, he was assured in his passing and decision-making

Bradley worked well with Gordon on the right and never stopped running for 90 minutes

Bradley worked well with Gordon on the right and never stopped running for 90 minutes 

Morton looked assured in central midfield as he came on at half-time for Naby Keita

Morton looked assured in central midfield as he came on at half-time for Naby Keita

Klopp, needless to say, was pleased with what he saw of his youngsters: ‘He [Gordon] is good. There are a lot of things to improve. 

‘There are a lot of thing to settle and to learn but there is already a lot of things that are there. We will treat him carefully. I am really happy he is here, he is really big talent. 

Then, on Bradley: ‘He is the first northern Irish player since 1954! Someone should have told me that before and I probably would have brought him up earlier. But he had a super game.’

A night full of promise for the Liverpool boss. The trio have surely earned themselves a place in the squad for the last-16 tie at the end of October – no matter who the opposition may be.  

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