Bit about the young players from Tomkins' blog in his day with Rafa;http://tomkinstimes.com/2009/10/my-day-with-crisis-hit-benitez/
He talks glowingly about Francisco Duran’s ability, but after three cruciate injuries, there’s a chance the Spanish younger, who was coveted by Arsene Wenger but chose Liverpool, will never be the same again. Wonderful prospect in 2007, but fate has handicapped his development. He may not have become the next Cesc Fabregas, but then neither would Fabregas had he had three such horrible injuries.
He mentions young players now at other clubs that he thought he had done enough to sign, but when not enough urgency was shown by those he was asking to do the business.
I am invited around to look at his PC monitor, to see his database of the full Melwood cast list, and who he has in mind for each position, from first team through to young prospects. I learn which kids are showing a great attitude, and which ones are disappointing him; the kind of thing you just don’t get to see unless you’re part of the club. It’s great information, but something for him to discuss with the players in question (and not for me to mention). Some, it saddens him to see, seem to have entourages already. He dreads good young players losing their focus, or having their heads turned. That’s why mentality is so important.
He rates Pacheco, the fans’ darling-in-waiting, but although he doesn’t say as much, he is another small, clever player, the like of which is already in abundance in a team lacking height. But Pacheco definitely has a chance, if he can span the great gap that exists from the reserves to the first team.
I mention Nemeth, and Rafa clearly likes him; but he needs first-team experience to toughen up. He’s definitely not out on loan to be offloaded, but at this stage Voronin, with his added experience (given that the first team is still very young, on average), was felt to be the better option as back-up second-striker.
Gulasci (whom I earlier watched close up in a one-on-one session with a goalkeeping coach) is another prospect he has high hopes for; but young goalkeepers can get crucified after a mistake, and 20 is very young for the bench in that position.
Finally, Ayala is singled out for praise as someone with a great attitude and a very bright future. (Having walked past the 18-year-old, all I can say as I’d have hated him marking me! Jesus Christ, I almost shat myself when he looked my way…).
The difficulty, of course, is in finding loans for promising players that will see them get games; we discuss incentives for those clubs taking these young Reds, such as San Jose’s year in Spain.
Send them to rival Premier League clubs, as happened in the past, and it’s likely to be a struggling side who shows an interest (Chelsea aren’t going to want your best reserves, are they? – and nor will they get them), only for the manager to then panic (or get sacked) and the club jettison them to their own reserves when the going gets tougher. It happened with Mellor and Le Tallec. So the aim is to find clubs who will definitely develop them.
Finally, we discuss the sell-on clauses that some younger ‘flops’ (who are now succeeding abroad) have in their contracts. Again, I won’t go into details, but it’s nice to know that profits will be made on small investments.