Reds captured talented USA forward Bijev with the 18-year-old signing a three-year deal with the storied English club.
The striker avoided the notoriously difficult work permit issue of English soccer via his Bulgarian citizenship. Villyan’s father, Chris, was born in the eastern European nation and now is a renowned attorney in Northern California for immigration and nationality issues.
The 18-year-old has been a prolific scorer with his club, Cal Odyssey, in the Development Academy for the past three seasons. Last year, he notched over 20 goals while leading his team to a runner-up finish in the U-16 age bracket. This year, he averaged a goal a game and was voted into the national starting XI at the U-18 level.
The Fresno native has previously played with the U.S. U-18 national team with his last appearance coming in May at the Lisbon International tournament. Bijev told Goal.com in June that U.S. Soccer was the only federation to get in contact with him, and he was committed to the program.
The youngster impressed the folks at Anfield while on trial over the last week with five goals and two assists in two games playing for the Liverpool U-18 academy team.
Earlier this year, Bijev was invited on the USFC SuperElite tour with Jon Spencer that has produced other professionals and rising U.S. national team hopefuls like Josh Gatt, Sean Cunningham, and Soony Saad. Bijev declined the invitation and instead spent time training in Bulgaria before heading to England for the trial with Liverpool.
With his combination of skill and deft touch, Bijev figures to have a bright future ahead either at forward or center midfield, where he used to roam at the club level early in his development.
His club coach, J.J. Wozniak, has seen the evolution of the young man first hand over the last few years as Bijev has worked relentlessly to reach this point of his young career.
"He is turning into a professional right before our eyes," Wozniak said to Goal.com in April.
Bijev has indicated previously to Goal.com that he wants to improve his runs off the ball and strength while in possession for the next level.
Assuming he can improve those two traits, Bijev will hope to enjoy a more successful career at Liverpool than recent American forebearers, with both Brad Friedel and Zak Whitbread failing to make the grade for the Reds.