It is safe to say that Liverpool’s FA Cup third round exit to Wolves was far from ideal for the Reds.
The majority of the squad underperformed, but there were one or two positives to take away from the defeat – the most significant being the excellent showing from 16-year-old debutant Ki-Jana Hoever.
After Dejan Lovren picked up an injury within the first five minutes of the match, Hoever was fielded in his place and he enjoyed a very impressive debut, confidently adapting to his unfamiliar surroundings.
Here are five things you need to know about Liverpool’s latest young prospect.
5. Liverpool’s Third Youngest Debutant
At 16 years and 354 days, Hoever became Liverpool’s third-youngest debutant in the club’s history when he came off the bench against Wolves.
The Dutchman sits behind Jack Robinson (16 years and 250 days) and Jerome Sinclair (16 years and six days) in the standings.
Despite not being the youngest debutant of all time, he is the youngest Liverpool player to ever feature in the FA Cup.
4. He’s a Versatile Defender
Versatility is often a buzz word when it comes to describing players, but Hoever has proven that he is capable of playing in more than one position.
Whilst he’s naturally a central defender, he has also played at right-back for Liverpool’s Under-23s, with one of his most notable performances coming when he played there during a 4-1 win over Arsenal in December.
With Nathaniel Clyne out on loan at Bournemouth, there’s a chance Hoever may be asked to step in on the right flank should the Reds suffer an injury crisis between now and the end of the season.
3. Ajax’s Loss Is Liverpool’s Gain
Ajax have a history of producing some incredible talents, but they let Hoever slip between their fingers last summer.
The 16-year-old was on the books at the Dutch outfit after joining from the AZ Alkmaar academy, but he failed to sign a deal with the senior side and Liverpool fought off competition from Premier League rivals Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea to acquire his signature.
As he had failed to sign a professional contract, Ajax were only entitled to minimum compensation.
2. He’s Being Compared to Virgil van Dijk
It should come as no surprise that Hoever is being compared to his teammate and compatriot Virgil van Dijk.
However, the comparisons go beyond the fact that he is simply a Dutch defender. As demonstrated by his performance against Wolves, he is very confident with the ball at his feet and is more than happy to push up field and play in between the lines with an impressive range of passing.
He’s handy at the other end of the pitch too. Five goals in three appearances for the Dutch Under-17 side is a very impressive return for a defender.
1. Jurgen Klopp Believes He’s the Future of Liverpool
It’s always reassuring when you have the backing of your manager and it is clear to see that Jurgen Klopp thinks very highly of Hoever after his short stint with the first team.
“He is for sure for the future of the club, but when the future starts I do not know,” said the German, as per the Evening Standard. “It will happen automatically. It is a nice prospect for the next months and years.”
With Lovren potentially out for the next few weeks, ‘the future’ may be starting sooner than expected.