Liverpool Academy director Alex Inglethorpe has had his say on the “jigsaw puzzle” player that Ki-Jana Hoever is.
The 16-year-old came on for Dejan Lovren after the opening few minutes of Liverpool’s FA Cup defeat to Wolves on Monday night and excelled in what was otherwise a poor showing from the Reds.
Inglethorpe wasn’t surprised to see Hoever perform so well on the big stage, however, as the Dutch youth international has enjoyed a remarkably-fast development at Kirkby since arriving from Ajax last September, representing Liverpool’s U18, U19 and U23 teams before being called up to the first team squad by Jurgen Klopp.
“I think that he’s an outstanding talent,” Inglethorpe told LiverpoolFC.com.
“The thing that surprises me about him is not just how good a footballer he is, but what a good person he is. He’s highly competitive, he doesn’t like losing.
“He has potential, he has serious potential, and his rate of progression I suppose after pre-season hasn’t surprised me because he’s someone that it was very, very clear from very, very early on had an awful lot of the pieces that you would need to become a top player.
“A lot of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are in the box and I guess we just have to put them together. He’s a very exciting prospect.”
“I think he’s driven but at the same time very level-headed. He carries himself ever so well, he’s got confidence around him and real belief in what he’s doing. OK, yes he can play, he’s technically very good and physically very good, but it’s how he thinks that has drawn me in.
“I like the attributes he shows in terms of his mental capacity, that’s what I like. That’s the bit that interests me at the minute.
“He’s got a lot more to come, you can see that he’s not done physically yet. But I think a lot of that will depend on where he plays in terms of the height he gets to and how he fills out in time.
“He’s someone at the minute that, in the older age groups, is likely to play on the side of the pitch, yet in his own age group plays more centrally. But time will tell.”
Inglethorpe acknowledged that while Hoever is an exciting prospect, he is still young, and urged everyone at Liverpool to remain “realistic” about his development.
“He’s young, he’s a baby,” Inglethorpe added.
“He’s got a long way to go and a lot to do, but he’s making nice progress at the minute. I think we have to be realistic in terms of our expectations of him, but he’s made a lovely start to his time at Liverpool and I hope I get the opportunity to work with him for many more years yet.”