By Alex Stevens
Ovie Ejaria has made “amazing” progress over the last 12 months and could have a big Liverpool career, according to Neil Mellor.
The Sky Sports pundit and ex-Anfield striker has been impressed by the performance of the midfielder since he joined the academy from Arsenal in 2014.
Ejaria’s displays at youth level earned him an opportunity for the first team in pre-season and he was then called up to the senior squad in the new campaign.
Jürgen Klopp handed Ejaria, 18, a place on the bench at Chelsea and a senior debut as a substitute in the League Cup victory at Derby County in September.
Mellor, a keen follower of developments at the Academy, is a big fan of Ejaria and is convinced he has already shown the kind of attitude which suggests greater things lie ahead.
“I watch a lot of the Liverpool under-age sides and his development in the last 12 months has been amazing,” Mellor wrote in in the new edition of the official Liverpool FC magazine, as quoted by the club’s website.
“A year ago he would probably admit that he wasn’t finding it easy in the U18s. Now he’s training with the first team after a fantastic pre-season where he stood out in games. He was imposing himself and doing very well.”
Mellor identified the qualities that he believes makes Ejaria so special.
“Technically gifted, he’s comfortable on the ball and has a good engine,” Mellor said to the magazine. “Obviously he still has a long way to go, but it’s great to see him on the right track and that the hard work of the Academy staff is paying off.
“For a young boy to move from London to Liverpool and adjust to a new way of life can’t have been easy.
“It’s the type of challenge players typically have to go through. At those times the question is: how badly do you want to be a professional?
“Ovie has shown how much by leaving an environment where he was comfortable and coming to the north west to try to fulfil his potential.
“He didn’t sulk or spit his dummy out when Arsenal let him go. Instead he got on with it and now he’s reaping the rewards.
“If he continues to show the same approach, work hard and avoid the inevitable distractions that come along, he can go far.”
This month, the teenager has stepped up his international progress by helping England record three successive wins in a tournament with Germany, the Netherlands and USA.
He got the breakthrough against the Americans on Monday night with a well-taken strike in a convincing 2-0 win.
In other Liverpool news, Jurgen Klopp has responded after the club fielded a £20million bid for one of their emerging stars.