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The young star Doak of the Liverpool Academy could end as a successor to Mohamed Salah



Liverpool always had a special link with Scotland.
If you are a fan (or a Celtic fan or an interest in Scottish football), you have probably heard the name of Ben Doak.

The striker born in 2005 – Yes, he was born almost six months after this night in Istanbul – made a name for himself last season in the configuration of the youth of Liverpool, in particular in the young UEFA young league.

These performances brought him the calendar a lot, which celebrated in November in the Carabao Cup and even its first League debut at Villa Park at the end of December.

The striker was signed for around 600,000 pounds.

First, there was the viral clip from the training match in which Jürgen Klopp can be heard in the background describing the youngster as ‘Scotland’s future’.

Doak then went one better in Liverpool’s season opener against Karlsruher SC, leaving Klopp to simply describe his performance as “Oh my God” (in a good way).

So what makes Scotland’s youth international so exciting?
As far as Doak is concerned, there is only one starting point.

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His ability to advance the ball through dribbling is not only effective, but also electrifying.

He is just as adept at making his way intricately (and sometimes even bulldozing) his way through the tightest of spaces as he is at penetrating vast spaces.

Looking at his latest appearance, in the friendly vs. Karlsruher SC, no one has attempted or completed as many dribbles as the number 50 Liverpool.

One (of many) notable moments was around the hour, when Doak received the ball from James McConnell right in his own half.

He takes a touch before having the wits to run over his man, leaving it up to the defender to drive Doak into space and give Liverpool a numerical advantage or bring him down for a cynical yellow foul (which he opts for).

We also see another trait of Doak after his knockdown – his feistiness.

Despite being a meaningless friend, the Ayrshire-born winger finds himself at odds with Jerome Gondorf, the man who brought him down.

It’s a quality that both helps and hinders the Scot.

He has been booked five times in 21 UEFA Youth League and Premier League 2 appearances, around one yellow card every four games, more than the average winger.

But it’s also part of who he is and what makes his game so effective.

It gives him an edge over the competition, he’s tenacious and doesn’t give up – of course he risks a yellow card or sometimes even worse – but he doesn’t do it for work reasons, he does everything to win.

In a shootout win against Porto in UYL last season, a fight broke out as Liverpool claimed victory, Doak emerges from a crowd of players with a busted lip but on the winning side, which seems like a good representation of the player he is.

Doak’s precise control and his ability to get out of crowded spaces – one way or another (as mentioned earlier) – is probably the most extraordinary ability of him.

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Looking back on one of his highlights from last season, an incredible solo goal against old rivals Rangers in the Youth League.

The goal encompasses almost everything that makes Doak so exciting. He picks up the ball near the corner flag with what appears to be a very small one.

He tries to overtake his man with a lot of movement and movement before making his move. Then he pushes his way through the first defender.

This earns him space, who then executes a body trick and tricks another oncoming Rangers player before shooting wide into the box and finishing with a superb off-start finish in the back corner.

During his short career at Liverpool’s academy, Doak made some incredible goal contributions.

In five Under-18 matches there were two goals and two assists, in eight Under-19 matches four goals and four assists, in 14 Under-21 matches five goals and two assists.

There are 19 direct goals in 27 appearances for teams from the youth sector.

It’s getting to the point – after just a year at the club and him qualifying for under-21 football for a further four years – that youth football is likely to be a tier below Doak’s, and senior minutes should be the focus.

Although he showed insane ability against Lucas Digne in his Premier League debut last season against Lucas Digne, minutes in the league will be hard to come by.

Mohamed Salah is rarely injured and is key to Liverpool’s success.

The reality is that despite that promise, the 17-year-old is still not fully physically developed.

Europa League matches, especially against teams from Pots 3 and 4, offer an opportunity to play.

Just like the national cups. If Doak is to impress to the next level, he will need to improve his off-the-ball work.

He is tenacious and there is a will to introduce a shift on that side of the ball. He’s undeniably small, though, and it’s going to take some getting used to facing experienced, fully developed professionals.

The last paragraph may seem harsh. Doak was well ahead of expectations when he signed with Celtic a year and a half ago.

He is one of the most, if not the most exciting, players to play at Liverpool’s academy in recent times.

Its precise control is among the most impressive I’ve seen; He is stubborn and aggressive in a good way.

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He has incredible pace over long and short distances, is calm and composed in front of goal and already has a varied list of finishes in a Liverpool shirt to his name.

When he first joined the club there were concerns about how his development would be handled and those questions were – and still are – valid questions.

It was highlighted how much experience he would gain in the first team. Doak has silenced this narrative due to his performances at the academy, but the club has yet to come up with a gradual and steady development plan.

A lack of Champions League football allows them to experiment with Doak at Europa League level and given his young age, a loan doesn’t seem necessary.

There are weaknesses in his game, of course, and his size – while helping him due to his low center of gravity – brings with it some limitations (unless he lands at Lionel Messi’s level, which seems fairly unlikely).

Yet Doak’s profile is becoming more and more valuable.

Obviously, tactics move quickly in football, but midfielders in the box try to stick around for the predictable.

These are naturally narrow and allow the more natural wings more room to spread out.

His ability to pick up the ball in wide areas and make penetrating runs into the box is a huge part of his skill set and in that sense he can be very valuable to Liverpool in both the short and long term.

Klopp is right, Doak is Scotland’s future. But he also has the potential to be a major asset to Liverpool and Mohamed Salah’s successor.

If he develops well, he can create a superstar and save the club a lot of money in the long run.

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