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Mateusz Musialowski: 'The Polish Hazard' lighting up Liverpool's academy

7:00 AM EDT 5/24/21
Mateusz Musialowski NXGN GFX
The 17-year-old has been a revelation during his first season on Merseyside after the Reds beat Arsenal, Ajax & RB Leipzig to his signature

There is something of an unwritten rule at Liverpool these days. 

Namely, that if there is any kind of public vote, then Mo Salah wins it.

The Egypt international's status as a global star, along with his mega-consistent form, means he has dominated the Reds’ in-house Player of the Month award since his arrival on Merseyside in 2017.

The same has applied to Liverpool’s Goal of the Month prize. Salah, in fact, scooped that gong in each of the first six months of this season. He won it in September and October, November and December, January and February.

Not in March, though. In March, a new name was added to the honours board. 

And even Salah would not have complained about that.

It is fair to say that Mateusz Musialowski has made a big impression since joining Liverpool’s academy setup last summer, and his solo goal for the Reds’ Under-18s side at Newcastle served only to underline the Poland youth international’s immense promise. 

The 17-year-old, in fact, became the first non-first-team player to win the club’s Goal of the Month award since Adam Morgan, all the way back in 2013. His quick feet, speed, balance and clinical finish ensured the strike, which helped Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s side to a 3-0 win, went viral across social media.

It is, however, one of many highlights during an impressive first season on Merseyside, and on Monday night Musialowski will look to finish it with a trophy, as Liverpool take on Aston Villa in the final of the FA Youth Cup.

The teenager, signed from SMS Lodz in August, has shone during the Reds’ cup run. It was his brace which set them on their way to a big win over Sutton United in the third round, and he was on target again in the quarter-finals, another eye-catching solo goal sealing a 3-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield, in front of the watching Jurgen Klopp. 

He was at it again in the semi-final, his deflected strike dragging his side back into a tough contest at Ipswich Town. Liverpool eventually won 2-1, with Ipswich coach Kieron Dyer revealing afterwards that he had not shown his players too many clips of Musialowski before the game.

“I didn’t want to scare them!” Dyer smiled.

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You can see what he means. Musialowski may be young and diminutive, but his ability stands out a mile, whether playing wide, as a No.10 or, as he has on occasion this season, as a 'false nine'.

Sharp and skilful, and almost completely two-footed, he has already been compared, tentatively, to Eden Hazard by some academy staff, on account of his ability to turn with the ball and dribble at high speed.

His balance is remarkable, even if coaches are keen to teach him that he does not always have to take risks in possession.

“He’s so skilled with the ball at his feet,” says Jarell Quansah, who will captain Liverpool in the Youth Cup final. “Trying to get it off him is very tough - he’s one of the best dribblers I’ve come up against.”

The man himself smiles when he talks about his style of play.

“I love to take the ball, just dribble through everyone,” he told LFCTV earlier this year. “This is my style of playing football.

“When I dribble (past) the first player, I feel more confident, but when I just start running, I just go.

“Coaches from Poland and here never told me to stop, so that’s why I continue!”

In his home country, his potential has been talked about for years. Zbigniew Boniek, the legendary former Poland and Juventus striker, tweeted about Musialowski following an U14s game against Lithuania back in 2016. “Remember this name,” he wrote. 

Musialowski, like several of his U18s team-mates, has already had a taste of the senior setup at Liverpool. During the most recent international break, he was one of a number of youngsters who took part in an 11v11 training match at Kirkby, competing against the likes of James Milner, Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho. 

Sources say the first-teamers were impressed. There was a nutmeg on Fabinho and a couple of turns which drew applause from Klopp and Co on the sideline. His team, the less experienced of the two, lost 4-1 but he, along with James Balagizi and Leighton Clarkson in particular, emerged with plenty of credit.

Liverpool saw off plenty of competition to sign him, following a week’s trial last summer. Musialowski had interest from Ajax, Arsenal and RB Leipzig, among others, but has settled nicely on Merseyside, scoring 12 goals in 24 appearances despite being cut off from his family for much of the past 10 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These players - Mateusz and Melkamu Frauendorf, who came in last summer - deserve an awful lot of credit,” says Bridge-Wilkinson. 

“To come into a new country, a new club, a new culture and a new way of training and playing football, it’s difficult at the best of times. But to come in during Covid times, as they have, and to deal with it the way that they deserve so much credit.

“We managed to get them home at Christmas, which was really important, but besides that they’ve been here since mid-July away from their families, barring an eight or 10-day window. 

“These are the things we can be proud of. The way that these boys have adapted, the way they have dealt with the events that have unfolded over the course of the season, on and off the pitch.”

Now, it is time for one final flourish. There will be more than 4,000 supporters inside Villa Park for Monday’s game, and they would be well advised to keep a close eye on the little fella up front for Liverpool.

Because make no mistake, Mateusz Musialowski has the potential to go places.