How Conor Bradley has caused Liverpool the perfect problem

Published on 1 February 2024 at 20:00

After bursting into the world of high-level football within mere weeks, Liverpool’s Northern Irish youngster Conor Bradley has excelled during his emergence.  


To essentially every Liverpool fan around the world, the concerning news regarding Trent Alexander-Arnold’s knee injury came as a massive indicator of worry – and rightfully so. At the time of such devastating news being briefed, questions about who may fill the void left by the 25-year-old Scouser arose, despite the injury targeted to last just three weeks. 


Since the Reds’ abysmal 22/23 season which saw the squad miss out on a Champions League spot, fans of the Merseyside giants have called for Jürgen Klopp to employ depth to the full back positions which at the time, seemed overly bare, particularly on the right-hand side of the pitch. But as proven time and time again – Klopp knew best, leaving the issue to be solved by none other than Liverpool’s youth wonderkid Conor Bradley, who signed for the LFC Youth Academy in 2019 after having previously played for semi-pro Northern Irish club Dungannon Swifts.  


Beginning his footballing career at a youth level, a nine-year-old Bradley played for hometown club St. Patrick’s F.C while also simultaneously training at Liverpool’s Northern Irish development centre. Despite being watched by scouts from other prestigious clubs such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, the Irishman’s love for the Reds’ made the inevitable move to Merseyside a no brainer.  


Having idolized players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Mohammed Salah while training under Liverpool’s youth academy, his talent for high pressing, inverted football was clear to development coaches overseeing his growth. Proving his ability, Bradley made his first team debut in a preseason friendly versus German side VfB Stuttgart in July 2021, impressing Jürgen Klopp and his respective backroom staff, leading the youngsters name to remain amongst most discussions central to squad depth.  


Making the loan move to Bolton Wanderers in July 2022, Bradley was seen off by the LFC development squad with hopes to nurture his ability with minutes. Successfully, Conor impressed and excelled at his time with Bolton Wanderers, even earning the Player of the Year award – a prestigious ode to his work ethic and aura both on and off the pitch. 


With academy staff and Klopp himself notably impressed by Bradley’s season in Bolton, the 20-year-old returned to LFC, destined for inevitable first team football – and when the Reds’ star player Alexander-Arnold sustained his injury, a window of opportunity emerged for the youngster.  


Etched onto the team sheet, Bradley made his full Premier League debut against Bournemouth on the 21st of January, where he also managed to register an impressive assist for Diogo Jota’s goal which aided the Reds on their path to a tremendous 4-0 victory. Further solidifying his first team presence, Bradley bagged another two assists in the following match versus Norwich, impressing Anfield and securing Player of the Match. 


Such a set of performances was destined to grant the Irishman another shot at a Premier League start, leading Conor to face off against Chelsea on the 31st, where he began the match amongst his once idols for the third time. However, as mind blowing as it was to see a youngster make a start over a fully fit Trent Alexander-Arnold, the decision did not go in vain as Bradley registered an incredible one goal and two assists, earning him his second Player of the Match award in three days.  


The question must be asked – where do the Liverpool coaching staff go from here? Quite simply, this perfect problem has come at the right time for Jürgen Klopp as the January transfer window is about to close. 


When asked about such a predicament in Liverpool’s post-match press conference following their commanding 4-1 victory over Chelsea, Klopp stated, “There’s no situation, it’s just how it is. We finally realised we had seven games in January with 11 days off in between, I don’t know how we fitted them in but obviously we had to start January 1. And we couldn’t have put the string of results together we had without the boys, without the kids,” 


One thing is clear – regardless of who the Reds start at right back against Arsenal on Sunday, they’re in incredibly safe hands. 


Written by Oisin O'Sullivan

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