Rhian Brewster started Liverpool’s pre-season as he means to go on with an impressive display crowned with two goals and an assist in a 6-0 win at Tranmere Rovers.
The 19-year-old, who manager Jurgen Klopp revealed will have “an important role to play” as attacking cover for the front three in the upcoming campaign, was the standout performer in the opening 45 minutes at Prenton Park.
The striker — stepping up after Daniel Sturridge was released this summer — spotted Nathaniel Clyne in space on the right flank, playing a low ball into the area for the fullback, who took a touch and found the top corner on six minutes.
Brewster’s work off the ball will have impressed Klopp as much as his quick, clever passes in possession. The teenager, who has battled back from a serious ankle and knee injury picked up while playing for Liverpool’s U23s last January, deservedly got on the scoresheet himself before the interval.
First, he headed in Harry Wilson’s deflected cross and then was alert to convert the rebound after Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies couldn’t hold James Milner’s effort.
Yasser Larouci, the Algeria-born speedster signed to Liverpool’s Academy from Le Havre in 2017, was another player to catch the eye in the first half.
Signed as a winger, he was switched to a left-back by Under-18s coach Barry Lewtas to brilliant effect.
Aggressive, always available and displaying variety in his game, the star of the FA Youth Cup victory will get more opportunities to make an impression on Klopp during pre-season.
It was all change to the XI in the second half, which featured Champions League hero Divock Origi — wearing the captain’s armband — who signed a new contract with the club on Wednesday.
A more attacking line-up promised more goals and so it proved, with Curtis Jones tapping in Ben Woodburn’s cross towards the back post on 53 minutes.
A fifth goal arrived courtesy of Joel Matip lifting a long ball into the path of Origi’s run. The Belgium international applied a stunning first touch, taking it around Davies before drilling it in.
Bobby Duncan, cousin of Steven Gerrard, added another after Paul Glatzel was challenged inside the box after fine work from the excellent Ki-Jana Hoever.
A rare moment of relief for Tranmere arrived when Danny Walker-Rice put the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled offside to boos from all corners of the ground.
Glatzel had to be replaced through injury after falling awkwardly while trying to close down the goalkeeper, with Klopp throwing on Academy stopper Daniel Atherton on as his replacement in outfield.
That sight will not have been unfamiliar to Liverpool fans, who watched gloveman Shamal George come on to replace Lucas during pre-season in 2016.
The European champions travel to Bradford City next, before flying to the United States where they will tackle Borussia Dortmund at Notre Dame Stadium, Sevilla at Boston’s Fenway Park and Sporting at New York’s Yankee Stadium.
A test with Napoli at Murrayfield follows, before they tackle Lyon in Geneva and close off pre-season by contesting the Community Shield with Manchester City on August 4.
First-half team: Mignolet, Clyne, Phillips, Gomez, Larouci, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Kent, Wilson, Brewster.
Second-half team: Jaros, Hoever, Matip, Johnston, Lewis, Fabinho, Jones, Woodburn, Duncan, Glatzel, Origi.
Additional substitute: Atherton