‘One for the future’ would probably be the line taken by most Liverpool fans when questioned about youngster Jordon Ibe this season, however Brendan Rodgers has decided to recall the 19-year-old from his loan at Derby County this week.
Following a summer transfer window which saw the club spend an estimated £116 million, arguably the Reds two best players have been Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling, both products of the clubs youth academy. Perhaps it is little surprise then that Rodgers would look to another player developed by the club in the form of Jordon Ibe. Ibe has been on loan at Championship high-flyers Derby County since the start of the season and has thoroughly impressed in the East Midlands.
Displaying quick feet, burning pace and a surprisingly accomplished final product for a man of his age, Ibe will be a big loss for Steve McClaren’s men. With 5 goals in 20 league games for the Rams, Ibe has displayed his ability to score goals from the wing in the Championship.
Liverpool’s official website declared that Ibe would be “available for immediate selection” and given how successful a loan he was experiencing, one suspects Rodgers wouldn’t recall him unless he intended to utilise the youngster. “The boy is developing and getting better, Liverpool can see that, we can see that. My advice is keep him here and develop him more” were the words of former England boss, McClaren, but it would seem Rodgers saw the situation differently.
Likened to Raheem Sterling in more than one way, Ibe has been highly regarded at Anfield for a number of years now, having played in the league for the club back in March 2013, where he got himself an assist on his debut. With an attacking trio of Sterling-Suarez-Sturridge, Ibe’s chances were always likely to be limited last season though. However, with a number of Liverpool’s investments not yet finding their feet at Anfield, a chance appears to have opened up for Ibe.
Ibe has been noted for his blistering pace twinned with a confidence to take a defender on and beat him, which he is successful in doing more times than not. One must bare in mind that Ibe is making a step up though, whilst Derby are second in the Championship the 19-year-old will face much sterner tests in the Premier League.
Liverpool face a trip to Aston Villa this Saturday, and despite their struggles Villa have the strongest defence outside the divisions top four. Rodgers has recently switched to playing a 3-4-2-1 formation, which has seen the Reds recapture some of the attacking pace and flair that we became accustomed to last season. Should Rodgers persist with this formation, Ibe would have to be one of the two in behind the front man.
At Derby, he was primarily played out on the left but showed a tendency to come inside. Ibe would no doubt fit seamlessly into a largely pace-dependent counter-attacking approach but question marks could appear over his contribution to the team without the ball. One thing is for sure, Ibe is a superb prospect for both Liverpool and England, and most certainly a player to keep your eye on.