Tag Archives: wales

Neco Williams: Liverpool’s latest Kirby star and a new Welsh hero

“England were trying to ring my agent a lot and wanting to speak to me, but I weren’t having none of it,” declared a young Neco Williams not long before he made his senior debut for the Welsh national side on Thursday against Finland.

As if snubbing the old enemy wasn’t enough to endear himself to the Welsh faithful Williams went one better at the weekend, popping up with his first senior goal in the dying seconds to prevent Wales from succumbing to a disappointing draw against Bulgaria.

It was another important milestone in the Wrexham teenager’s fledgling career to date, and it seems as if the only way is up for the right back.

Williams has been at Liverpool since the age of six and has progressed through the various youth ranks. Previously an attacking midfielder or a winger in his younger teenage years, the 19-year old was converted to a right back by Academy coaches to help accelerate his development.

After a back injury ruled him out for almost the entirety of the 2017-18 season he impressed upon his return to action in 2018, making his debut for the U23s and Wales’ U19 side.

The following campaign, 2018-19, was when Williams really began to prosper. He featured for the Reds’ U18s, U19s and U23s that season. He was also an integral member of the squad who lifted the FA Youth Cup, holding his nerve to convert his penalty against Man City as Liverpool defeated the Sky Blues in the shootout.

He stepped up to the first team ahead of the 2019-20 season, featuring in a number of pre season friendlies for Liverpool, before making his official debut in the Carabao Cup game with Arsenal in October.

Williams put in a sublime performance on the night, assisting Divock Origi’s goal to make it 5-5 as the Reds went on to triumph over the Gunners on penalties.

He travelled with Klopp’s side to Qatar as they lifted the FIFA Club World Cup before he starred in the FA Cup third round defeat of Everton in January in which the majority of Liverpool’s starting XI were aged 22 or under.

He started both cup ties against Shrewsbury in the next round and had a hand in the winning goal. His fizzing cross forced Ro-Shaun Williams to head the ball his own net as Liverpool progressed to the fifth round.

He played the full game as Liverpool suffered a 2-1 loss to Chelsea. His Premier League debut followed after lockdown, with Williams coming on for the final fifteen minutes in the 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace and almost scoring, lashing an effort just off target in a lively cameo.

He would go on to feature against Man City and Aston Villa, before making his first Premier League start against Brighton.

Two further appearances against Burnley and Newcastle on the final day of the season meant that Williams played enough games (six in the top flight) to earn a Premier League winners medal as Liverpool wrapped up the title with 99 points.

Whilst on Liverpool’s pre season trip to Austria it was announced that Williams had signed a new 5 year deal with the club, a reward for his terrific transition into the first team set up last year and he will be hoping to continue his upward trajectory this term.

He started the Community Shield loss today Arsenal at the end of August, deputising for Alexander-Arnold who was out injured, and Williams will be hoping to provide strong competition for the Englishman this campaign as Liverpool attempt to hold on to their Premier League crown.

Williams is a marauding full back, made very much in the same mould as Trent Alexander-Arnold, a fellow Kirby graduate. He is quick, strong in the tackle and has an eye for a pass, with his crossing ability particularly impressive even at his young age.

He is solid defensively and wins many of his aerial duels. His positioning sometimes leaves a lot to be desired, as seen in the Community Shield when he stood off Aubameyang allowing him to curl a splendid effort into the far corner, although this should only improve with experience and learning from the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson in training each day.

Jürgen Klopp is certainly a fan of what he sees from the Welshman and is keen to utilise him this season with Liverpool competing on four fronts.

He told Liverpool’s official website last month:

“Neco from the first day he trained with us, he trained like a machine. Every day he became better and better and better and I thought, ‘OK, what’s that?

“He has a lot of things that we really like so I am really, really happy that he signed the contract.”

Many at Liverpool believe Trent Alexander-Arnold’s future lies further forward, in a centre midfield role, and if Williams can reach the dizzying heights Trent has reached in just a few short years, that transition may be made sooner rather than later in order to accommodate both of Liverpool’s prodigious talents.

Williams isn’t looking too far ahead despite the hype surrounding him, aiming to keep his feet firmly on the floor and enjoy the great memories which this week has provided him.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the game Williams said:

“To learn off the best players in the world for club and country is something that a young lad like me has always dreamt of.

“I’ll keep improving as a player and keep showing the dedication, I’ll stay humble and if all that comes together I’ll be a top player.”

Williams certainly believes in his ability and with a committed attitude like that to match his talent he could be the next Liverpool great to step off the production line.

Where next for gareth bale?

On Thursday the footballing world was treated to a lesser seen phenomenon, Gareth Bale played football, on an actual football pitch.

The 31 year old perhaps now ex-superstar appeared in the first-half for Wales during their 1-0 victory over Finland. In truth it wasn’t Bale’s finest 45 minutes and his manager Ryan Giggs said the amount of time was all he was fit for given his lack of match fitness, having not played for months on end.

With a CV that matches some of the greats of the game Bale has found himself very much of the periphery of things at Real Madrid for around two seasons now. Having almost secured a move to China last summer, the former Tottenham man could be looking for a way out of the Bernabau once more.

In a recent, honest, interview with Sky Sports, the Welsh forward said Real Madrid: ”make things very difficult” when asked abut his desire to leave the club.

Surely the time has come for the four times Champions League winner to find himself a new club, and with it regular football once more.

Success at Madrid?

There can be no doubt prior to the fallout Bale’s time in the Spanish capital has ultimately been a success, however, fans of the club would perhaps suggest otherwise.

Since completing his £90 million move the forward has won two La Liga titles, one Copa Del Rey, three FIFA Club World Cups, and the aforementioned four UEFA Champions League crowns.

Individually the Cardiff born star has the incredible record of 105 Madrid goals in 251 appearances in all competitions, including one of the greatest goals to ever grace a Champions League final.

Despite falling dramatically out of favour with Zinedine Zidane and the fans, although in truth the fans always seemed to struggle to warm to the Welshman, seemingly because he wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo and occasionally took the limelight off their darling, nobody can deny Bale still has something to offer at the highest level.

His fleeting international outings have proven his quality remains, often the go to man for a Welsh side which has reached higher than usual heights in recent times.

So where could, and should he end up…

Having been on the verge of a move to the Chinese Premier League last summer many may seem a repeat of that move as the logical switch,. Given his current wages and the two years left on his deal, it is going to take a club with deep pockets as well as some bargaining from all parties to make this move happen.

Without one aspect of the move forgoing some financial loss, Bale could continue to earn his money sitting on the bench and playing golf in his free time.

The romantics and Spurs fans will be dreaming of a return to White Hart Lane where he made his name, having been a struggling left-back before moving up the pitch and setting the Premier League alight.

In truth the powers that be and the wage structure in place is unlikely to see Bale back at Spurs. It is much more likely the Welshman heads to one of the other top six Premier League clubs, Manchester United have often been touted as potential suitors.

Opinion

Simply seeing Bale back playing football is the preferable option, however, not at one of Liverpool’s main rivals as adding a player of his abilltiy would enhance any squad, even if his days of playing two matches a week are behind him.

Whilst there is very little chance of it happening, given his wage demands and the type of player Liverpool sign. I would love to see Bale in the red of Liverpool, although I can’t foresee him being delighted with Jurgen Klopp’s running demands. A player of his immense quality would be beneficially to every team in world football, they simply need to let him play.

Dean Saunders Jailed!…

Dean Saunders, the ex Liverpool FC Striker, has been jailed today for 10 weeks for failing to be breathalysed, after being pulled over on suspicion of Drink Driving.

Saunders worked as a coach at Newcastle United, under Graeme Souness and has also managed Wrexham and Wolves as well as being capped 75 times for Wales.

Saunders was stopped by Police on suspicion of drink driving in Boughton, Chester on May 10th this year, but pleaded guilty by letter, on Tuesday, but appeared in Court Today (28th August).

Initially denying both charges at an earlier hearing, he was also banned from driving for 30 months. Saunders is currently working for BT Sport, so could it affect his job too?

The jailing, is a sad hiccup in what has been a good and solid career, as a player, and a steady, if unspectacular managerial career.

Should Leicester City sign this free agent?

Leicester City have made a poor start to the current 2017/18 Premier League season having won just one of their opening three games with the other two coming in as losses.

 

With this in mind and the fact that the transfer window has slammed shut should Craig Shakespeare go after a free agent to bolster the defence of his squad?

 

The free agent that Leicester could make a move for is Bacary Sagna who is the versatile right-back that Leicester could be looking at adding to the squad. Sagna will bring with him a wealth of experience at the top of the game having played for Arsenal, Manchester City and he also made 65 appearances for the France senior team.

 

Sagna is available to join another club outside the transfer window as he is a free agent after leaving City earlier this summer and he is set to be one of the most in-demand free agents on the market.

 

The 34-year-old spent three seasons at City after joining from Arsenal on a free transfer, making 85 appearances in all competitions for the Etihad club during his time there.

 

The right-back started 17 Premier League games last season, but his contract at the Etihad was not extended when it expired in June with City bringing in two new right-backs in Kyle Walker and Danilo.

 

Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare is keen to bring in cover and competition for regular right-back Danny Simpson, and Sagna would fit the bill as he would have no problem settling in having spent the last 10 years playing in the Premier League.

 

Do you think Bacary Sagna would be a good addition to the Leicester City team? Let us know in the comments section below.

Is this the hottest prospect in the Premier League right now?

Before the international break many saw Ben Woodburn as a player who had potential but isn’t ready for the level of the Premier League yet.

 

Two Wales games later and suddenly Woodburn has burst onto the international scene scoring a vital winner against Austria from outside the box just four minutes after coming on and then tonight he provided the assist for Robson-Kanu’s opener in the 2-0 win against Moldova away from home.

 

This is a pretty special feat for someone of just 17 years old and it’s hard to believe that the young lad has done more than Gareth Bale in the last two international games.

 

Surely it won’t be long until Woodburn will be playing for Liverpool particularly as Jurgen Klopp seems to be an admirer of the young welshman. Before the hype can really start surely we must wait and see if the lad can kick it in the Premier League?

 

With his recent performances can it be seen that Woodburn is the hottest prospect in the league? I would argue that he has some way to go before he can pip the likes of Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli but surely he is going in the right direction.

 

Do you think Woodburn is the real deal or just another hyped up kid who hasn’t earned his reputation yet? Let us Know in the comments section below.