“Nice ball around the corner there. Lovely return. Glatzel will get the strike in… AND THAT’S A STUNNER! It’s the central striker who smashed that one past D’Andrea. A man who’s been in red hot form this year for the under 18s; eleven goals in ten appearances he’s scored for them, and there won’t be too many of those goals better than that one!” – Liverpool 5-0 Napoli, UEFA Youth League, 11th December 2018.
Youth development has become even more of a paramount department for Premier League clubs over past decades. Wealthy English clubs empty their pockets and invest heavily into their academy setups in an attempt to uncover the next David Beckham, the next Harry Kane or the next Wayne Rooney. Whilst smaller clubs might look to turn a neat profit from their youth, larger clubs are always looking for an auspicious starlet; particularly in attack, to bring a steroid-like injection of firepower into their squad without having to part with an eight-figure sum.
Paul Glatzel is the auspicious starlet who is leading the line in a Liverpool youth setup that is brimming with talent.
The seventeen-year-old native Scouser, whose dual nationality has allowed him to represent both England and Germany at youth levels, is currently having an outstanding season as captain after grievously being sidelined with injury for the majority of his previous two seasons. With 17 goals in all competitions this season he has lead his side, like their senior counterparts, to the summit of the table and Glatzel is without doubt an integral part of Barry Lewtas’ Liverpool side. His performances have earned him a place in first team training as well as appearances for the under 23s side.
Playing in a dual-headed attack in Lewtas’ 4-1-3-2 formation, the forward is flourishing thanks to his interplay with the midfield and his prolific partnership with Bobby Duncan; the striking partnership has notched up 23 league goals this season and has a resemblance to the audacious trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino in the senior set-up. Glatzel’s movement allows him to act as a critical link in Liverpool’s attacking plays by dipping into an almost talismanic role in the space between the three in midfield and the final third; with various first-time flicks and passes wrong-footing defenders to allow for an open attempt at goal, similar to Roberto Firmino in the senior squad.
The striker’s work rate is certainly inherent in his game as well – widely described an exceedingly intelligent and an infectiously industrious striker whose perseverance is shown by his ability to battle through two major injuries and establish himself as an integral player. His elusive darting runs behind the defensive line are archetypal for the teenager and his consistent pressing of the opposition defence in the final third which limits them to long route one passes is common.
Glatzel’s running in the opposing half also draws defenders out who swarm to mark him, allowing space for fellow striker Duncan to punish the opposition. Glatzel tessellates with Duncan in attack as a skillful, and often selfless, creator and finisher partnered alongside a potent poacher; attributing to Liverpool’s consummate dominance in the final third. Diligence and consistent energy can sometimes be a rare commodity among professional forwards, but it is certainly present in Liverpool’s blossoming youth.
Complementing his work off the ball, Paul Glatzel’s possessive efforts are much more explicit and impressive. The left-footer has certainly proven to make goalkeepers fearful so far this season, achieving an impressive 34% shot conversion rate in the U18s Premier League with, for context, senior goal-scorers like Mohamed Salah on a shot conversion rate of 19% (although obviously against much more experienced and higher quality opposition). The teenager’s positioning can account for this; allowing him to get into space inside the box to receive the ball and convert easily, although that’s not to say that Glatzel doesn’t possess venomous striking power from distance, shown clearly by his first European goal being a ferocious weak-footed strike in the 5-0 win over Napoli.
The first touch is sublime but the finish is even better!
Paul Glatzel now has 1⃣1⃣ goals in 🔟 games this season 🔥
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 11, 2018
Additionally, the footwork of the Liverpool forward contributes to him being a handful for opposition defenders and allows Glatzel to find space for a close-quarters cross or pass or, just as easily, find an opening for a shot on goal. During Liverpool’s top of the table clash against rivals Everton in early November, Glatzel once more displayed his skill as he danced around a surge of jockeying defenders in the box to place the ball neatly in the bottom corner.
With an abundance of footballing youth and a scarcity of places for footballers in England’s top division due to the profuse competition, many young prospects fade into obscurity. Glatzel, however, is unquestionably an exciting academy talent to keep a lookout for. In possessing rather exceptional traits in his movement and clinicalness in front of goal; combined with an exceptionally motivated and driven mindset, the teenager exhibits exciting glimpses into the future of what could be a successful career.
It’s still very early in his career, but Paul Glatzel may just be a name you’ll be hearing more and more…