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Liverpool £3m signing wanted by Man United can soon remind everyone why he was ‘worst kept secret’

Not for seven months has 17-year-old Liverpool prodigy Kaide Gordon kicked a ball in a competitive fixture.

 

It will have undoubtedly been one of the most frustrating periods of the Liverpool winger’s novice career to date, with his outing in a 3-0 defeat to Leeds United under-21s at Elland Road in February his last of what was a largely successful first full campaign on Merseyside.

 

Having made his senior debut for Derby County in December 2020, just weeks before completing a move to Liverpool, Gordon became the Rams’ fourth youngest-ever debutant as he was handed his Championship introduction by the club’s former boss Wayne Rooney; a man who knows all about being thrust into the limelight of the senior game while still such an adolescent figure.

 

While Rooney’s debut at Everton at 16 years of age in August 2002 was certainly no token gesture, Gordon’s cameo in additional time against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s was presented seemingly as the club’s departing memo to the Derby-born prodigy, as his impending move to the reigning Premier League champions had become the worst kept secret at both Pride Park and Anfield.

 

Kaide is a fantastic player and he has got a lot of potential,” said Rooney in his post-match interview, after handing the attacker his berth in the professional game. “He has come through the academy. He is 16, he has got a lot of development to do and he is definitely at the right place to do that.”

 

Joining up with the Reds’ academy in February 2021, Gordon would spend the rest of the 2020/21 season turning out for Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s under-18s in impressive fashion; firing a quartet of goals in his final four outings of the domestic season. His remarkable control, trickery and delicate left foot saw club insiders immediately tip the then 16-year-old as one of the Kirkby-based hopefuls with a serious possibility of enjoying a prosperous career on Merseyside.

 

And it would be just months after making the move to L4, for a fee worth up to £3m, that the winger would be handed his first taste of the Liverpool first-team as he turned out alongside Roberto Firmino and Takumi Minamino as part of a rotated forward trio for the club’s final pre-season fixture of the 2021 summer.

 

But since that spring evening late last August, which Gordon almost marked with a goal as his effort whistled past the far post in a 3-1 defeat of Osasuna, it’s been a more mixed year for the winger. It was on this day in 2021 that he was handed his first professional start for the Reds, in the 3-0 victory over Norwich City in the League Cup.

 

He, like fellow debutants Conor Bradley and Tyler Morton, impressed both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Lijnders with a fearless display in East Anglia, despite facing a much-changed line-up from Daniel Farke’s newly-promoted side. The Reds ran out 3-0 victors on that particular evening with a double from Minamino and a Divock Origi header enough to set Liverpool on their way in a competition they went on to win for a record ninth time.

Boasting an 89 per cent pass completion rate on the night, Gordon balanced his ability to daze opponents with his catalogue of tricks and fine dribbling with enough maturity to keep his involvement uncomplicated when required. It was a display that Lijnders had foreshadowed days before Gordon’s first outing for the Reds.

 

“About Kaide, before pre-season we always make sure that our biggest talents start a week earlier than we start,” said Lijnders in his pre-match press conference.

 

“What you see a lot with these kind of wingers, they can now play, they can combine. He has a goal in him and he has this natural ability to be in the box between the goalposts to score, even when the cross comes from the other side, and not many talents have that.

 

“They have maybe dribbling skills but they don’t have this desire to shoot and come in the box to score.”

 

There would be inclusions in Premier League squads for the visit of Arenal and the trip to Spurs as Liverpool looked to blood their latest academy hopeful of some much-needed Premier League experience. It was a reward for the youngster’s application during the summer months, where he had reported to pre-season training at AXA Centre a week before required and therefore secured a place on the club’s pre-season base in Saalfelden and Tirol and Evian.

 

Building on his impressive showing at Carrow Road, and his subsequent inclusions in the Premier League squads, Gordon etched his name into the club’s record books with a goal against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup third round in January. Linking up with fellow academy team-mate Bradley on the right-hand side, Gordon showed experience beyond his 17 years to dupe one Salop defender before burying his effort into the Kop end goal.

 

It was a strike that would sandwich his name between Ben Woodburn and Michael Owen in the history books as the club’s second youngest-ever scorer at just 17 years, three months and four days.

 

January would turn out to be the finest month of Gordon’s fledgling career as he was handed his Premier League bow against Brentford and almost scored with his first involvement, before being handed a surprise start away at Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final second leg in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

 

Fielding something of a make-shift forward line in the absence of his two stars on Africa Cup of Nations duty, it was telling that Gordon was given the nod ahead of Minamino for the second leg of their tie with the Gunners.

 

With Divock Origi suffering from a long-term knee injury at the time, and Luis Diaz not yet arriving from FC Porto, Gordon temporarily found himself as a third-choice forward for a few brief days in January 2022.

 

And with Origi and Minamino both departing the club in the summer, Gordon could be in line for a similar role once the Reds return to League Cup action in November against his former club Derby County.

 

Despite his seventh-month absence, with what the ECHO revealed is a pelvic issue, and the club insisting Gordon will not but rushed back to action, Derby’s visit to Anfield could hand the youngster the perfect opportunity to kick-start his Anfield career in the same competition he announced himself in last season.

 

Having not featured since riding the wave of his first Anfield crescendo earlier this year, Gordon has understandably become an overlooked talent in the minds of some supporters since Harvey Elliott’s return and the excellent emergence of Fabio Carvalho and Ben Doak. But yet to turn 18, and coveted by Manchester United prior to his move to Anfield, Gordon will soon remind those of his qualities as he edges closer to his first appearance of the 2022/23 season.

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