Like character actress Margo Martindale, we’ve become accustomed to Dominic Solanke’s cameo appearances, but in this writer’s opinion, it could time for Dom’s first feature as a leading man.
His inclusion within the England squad further highlights the steps he is making in his fledgling career and his appearance, though short, once more showcased everything we’ve come to expect from the Chelsea academy graduate. Of course, we cannot expect too much too soon from a player only recently turned 20-years-old, with ten top flight appearances to his name but giving him that experience and game time now is vital.
We have seen what consistent starts can do for young players with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez becoming unlikely first team regulars this season, with many fans stating Nathaniel Clyne may not get back into the team once fit, such is the form of the two. So what about Solanke?
There are three key elements that I believe Solanke has on his side.
First, natural ability, which he has in abundance. Pace, power, football intelligence, height, something which I believe is lacking in the current Liverpool set up. His plaudits speak for themselves with his recent Golden Ball win at this summer’s U-20 World Cup. Previous winners include Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Diego Maradona. Not bad company, but a good reputation at youth level does not always translate into the top flight of English football. Just ask Samed Yesil!
Second, time. At 20-years-old, Solanke has a lot of it to develop as a player and with more minutes, he will only continue to improve. Just look Raheem Sterling, in his first season of first team footbal,l he finished the campaign with two goals in 36 appearances. Baring this in mind, patience is required by us as fans. so often in football a player is written off after a handful of indifferent performances.
And thirdly, Jurgen Klopp. Much like his predecessor, Klopp is a manager who likes to nurture youth and build a player from the ground up as we have seen with so many of Europe’s current elite having worked under him at Borussia Dortmund. Not to mention the progress we have seen firsthand from the likes of Alexander-Arnold, Gomez and Ben Woodburn.
When I manage a club, each young player should smile because the chance is bigger for them than it ever was. The door is pretty wide open and I don’t care about experience. Experience is an important point, but not the most important.
With Jurgen’s recent switch to a 4-2-2-2 system as we saw against West Ham, this could be the perfect time if any to give Solanke a start, playing alongside Klopp’s favoured forward Roberto Firmino.
He may not have been a box office summer smash, but with a busy period ahead, he certainly has the potential to be block buster this festive season or at the very least, a nice stocking filler.