Premier League • England

Klopp has immediate replacement in mind as fringe Liverpool star’s exit talks develop

Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Liverpool v Ajax

Neco Williams could soon leave Liverpool following a struggle for minutes and boss Jurgen Klopp has a replacement in mind, a report has claimed.

The Wales right-back has largely impressed when he has had the chance in Klopp’s first team. However, after stepping up to the senior ranks in January 2020, those opportunities have come few and far between.

In fact, Williams has only played 31 times for the Reds since then and not gone out on loan. Instead, he has remained the deputy to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who will prove hard to shift at right-back.

Nevertheless, The Athletic reports that Williams and Liverpool are beginning to recognise the effect the lack of game time is having on the player.

The 20-year-old is impressing for Wales and scored on his 16th cap back in November. And Wales boss Robert Page has already admitted that Williams should be considering a move away.

The Athletic reports that Liverpool and Williams may come to a mutual agreement to sell the player.

He will likely want more experience, be that in the Premier League or elsewhere, and to develop his career. Wales, meanwhile, want Williams in top shape ahead of their World Cup play-off campaign in March.

Despite the exit talk, the right-back recently insisted that he feels happy to stay at Liverpool.

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He said: “For me when I signed my contract [in 2020], the main thing was I needed to improve as a player.

“And when I’m coming up against Mo Salah and Sadio Mane every day in training, it’s going to make me a better player.

“I feel like I’ve matured in my game, especially when you’ve got Salah and Mane running at you every day. It is hard but it’s going to make me a better player and I feel like it definitely has helped me.”

According to The Athletic, though, Liverpool academy talent Conor Bradley could be Williams’ replacement.

Liverpool could replace Neco Williams with Conor Bradley

Conor Bradley, David Vilan Alonso during Liverpool v Atletico Madrid, November 2021

The 18-year-old right-back already has three senior Northern Ireland caps to his name. At club level, he has made his name in Liverpool’s Under-23s team.

As such, he has enjoyed glimpses of first-team action this season.

Bradley made a cameo appearance in the Champions League against AC Milan at the San Siro.

Meanwhile, he has played in all three of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup games ahead of their two-legged semi-final with Arsenal in January.

Midfielder Tyler Morton is another academy talent Klopp has briefly integrated into the first team this season.