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European champion who caught Pep Lijnders’ eye could provide Liverpool with ultimate defensive balance

 

Luke Chambers starred in defence as Liverpool under-19s defeated Ajax 4-0 in the UEFA Youth League.

 

Liverpool-born goalkeeper Harvey Davies produced a string of fine saves to ensure the young Reds’ slender one-goal advantage remained intact until the interval at least, as he got the finest fingertip to David Kalokoh’s curling effort late in the first half.

 

But it was defender Luke Chambers who was most impressive during the clash as he, alongside Lee Jonas, produced a stellar performance to keep Ajax forward’s Nassef Chourak, Jaydon Banel and Kalokoh powerless in their attempts of causing an upset on Merseyside.

 

Having joined the club’s academy system at the age of six and since evolved into an athletic, attack-minded left-back, Chambers displayed his extensive versatility during the drubbing of the Dutch champions as he formed a provisional, yet excellent, partnership with Jonas in the absence of under-19s captain Jarell Quansah, who missed the fixture through injury.

 

Tasked with honing his skills in a much more defensive-minded role, Chambers’ presence was paramount in Lewtas’ side earning their first clean sheet of the Youth League season, but also vastly important to the early phases of their attacking play.

 

Aiming to replicate the patterns of play of Klopp’s first team while using the same 4-3-3 system, both centre-backs, Jonas and Chambers in Tuesday’s case, were tasked with dropping wide and deep when goalkeeper Davies is in possession. Offering to receive the ball, the young Reds looked to play through the lines with Dominic Corness as chief conductor, while advanced midfielders Ben Doak and Bobby Clark took up more progressive roles in the half-spaces.

With the club’s highly-debated high defensive line employed even at the academy level, Chambers, who served on the left of the two centre-backs, was exceptional in possession as Liverpool were forced to display patience in order to break down a resolute Ajax side.

Able to retain possession with short exchanges with Corness and Jonas, the Preston-born defender also exhibited his ability to play beyond the lines and break Ajax’s press as he repeatedly looked to pick out the on-rushing James Norris down the left flank.

 

Of course, it’s those such diagonals that have become the trademark of Virgil van Dijk’s distribution during his four-and-a-half years on Merseyside as his range of passing is so frequently used for Liverpool to bypass an opposition press with such ease, almost like a cheat code.

We look all the time at the Academy. [On Tuesday] our U18s played against Burnley in the FA Youth Cup, we had Bobby Clark, Luke Chambers, Stefan Bajcetic, they all stand out,” said Lijnders. “I hope they come with us during the pre-season because it is important for them to have a proper pre-season to know exactly how we want to do things.”

Having signed a new and improved contract earlier this summer, ahead of joining up with the Reds’ senior team for their pre-season tour of the Far East, Chambers has made quite the impression within the Anfield ranks over the last 18 months following his remarkable progress with Marc Bridge-Wikinson’s under-18s last term.

 

Despite his favoured position coming at full-back, the 18-year-old’s ability he displayed against one of Europe’s finest footballing institutions will no doubt add further pedigree to his ever-increasing resume, which already includes becoming a European champion with England’s under-19s.

 

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