Dominic Solanke made his debut for Liverpool, coming off the bench in the 2-1 first leg win over Hoffenheim in the Uefa Champions League qualifiers played at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Goals came courtesy of Trent Alexander-Arnold and a Haavard Nordtveit own goal put the Reds in the driving seat to make it into the group phase thanks to their two goal away advantage ahead of next week’s return leg at Anfield.
Solanke was introduced with six minutes left to place, replacing Roberto Firmino but he had very little impact as Hoffenheim got a goal back through Mark Uth and put Jurgen Klopp’s charges under massive pressure in search for the equaliser towards the end.
Does Solanke’s official debut mean he has a stake in Klopp’s plans sooner or rather later?
The 19-year who came in from Chelsea, impressed in pre-season and looked like someone who could get into the thick of the action immediately. Goal’s Seye Omidiora earlier suggested that Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr take a closer look at the Anglo-Nigerian in a bid to make to make him switch allegiance and represent the West African nation.
Liverpool has youth brimming with burgeoning reputation as seen with Trent Alexander-Arnold who got the Reds opening goal with a stunting freekick. The 18-year old right back was making his second start of the season having played 90 minutes in Saturday’s emphatic 3-3 draw at Watford. Alexander-Arnold is standing in for Nathaniel Clyne who is recovering from injury but if the youngster continues to impress, he just might make the right back spot his own.
The former Chelsea player will likely play as the ‘false nine’ in Klopp’s system and while Firmino is first choice, Solanke could make himself to be the next available option. He has Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge to contend with but they don’t look like players Klopp trust to take over the Brazilian. Sturridge continues to be been plagued by injuries while Origi isn’t that much of a favourite despite his fine qualities.
It is here Dominic must work hard to ensure he gives his best when the opportunity presents itself. Anything could happen to Firmino afterall. He could go on a goal drought, get injured or even leave Anfield for one of Europe’s giant clubs and this is where Solanke gets the chance to prove his worth.
The 2017 U-20 World cup Golden ball winner still has a lot ahead of him but his burgeoning potential - which Chelsea didn’t utilise, makes his chances at Liverpool all the more exciting.