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Jordon Ibe – The next big thing?

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]any Premier League fans would haven’t had a clue who Jordon Ibe was at the turn of the new year. His meteoric rise from relative obscurity to the name on many fans’ lips has been a positive sub-plot in an otherwise average season for Liverpool so far.

Being recalled from his season-long loan at Derby, (presumably to cope with the injury problems Raheem Sterling has had of late), he surprisingly débuted this season in the Merseyside derby.

Whilst the game disappointed in terms of chances and goals, Jordon Ibe certainly didn’t disappoint, putting in a man of the match performance – notably creating a chance for himself and hitting the post from range.

His very direct, intelligent style of wing-play threw the Everton defenders on a number of occasions during the game. He played so well, he earned a start in Liverpool’s game three days later against Spurs – being instrumental in their crucial win over the Londoners. But what is it about Ibe that’s so impressive?

He’s a player blessed with an abundance of pace, technique, intelligence and versatility. Rodgers described him as

“a player with a ‘bright footballing brain’ who has the versatility to play as a winger on either flank, as a playmaker or as a striker”.

Whilst being likened to team-mate and country-man – Raheem Sterling in terms of his dynamic style of play, he poses more of a physical threat to defenders than the aforementioned, with Sterling usually taking a more technical approach to beating defenders.

If he maintains his current level of performance, it could see him show up the £20million signing Lazar Marković. Ibe’s invention and quick thinking on and off the ball has been something that at times Marković has lacked in dangerous situations – highlighted by his meagre return of 2 goals in 15 appearances for Liverpool.

The introduction of Ibe has also done wonders for Rodgers in terms of his use of the 3-4-2-1 formation. Rodger’s revamp of last season’s successful 4-1-2-1-2 diamond has allowed him to utilise the offensive nature of his wing-backs, something which given Johnson’s complete loss of form at right back, allows Ibe to slot in alongside Henderson or Gerrard and really stretch teams if need be.

Jordon Ibe playing for LiverpoolIt gets better for Liverpool and England fans however, as due to the versatility demonstrated by Ibe, there is no reason why he can’t be played behind the striker if injury or poor form affects Lallana or Coutinho for example. From what I’ve seen, his direct and dynamic style of play could really reap rewards for Liverpool if he was played in a more advanced role. His refreshing determination to take on defenders (shown by his  impressive 11 successful take-ons against Beşiktaş) could be a dangerous combination married with the finesse of Coutinho and dynamism of Sterling as a front trio.

Confidence isn’t a problem for Ibe as it is for some young players new to the Premier League, as his hunger to take-on and beat players is relatively unusual given his tender age of 19 and lack of experience in the top flight. What he needs to do right now in order to improve as a footballer is (and I hate to use this old cliché) keep his head and to keep doing what he does best – play football.

Ibe joins a growing list of young Lions that have really shone this season, players such as Harry Kane, Saido Berahino, Danny Ings, Eric Dier have all shown that they hold great potential ability in their performances so far this season.

By putting consistent performances in, week in week out, it will see him prove improve leaps and bounds, grow in confidence and ability. Of course, only time will tell whether Jordon Ibe can live up to his potential but given the performances he has churned out as of late, I can see no reason why he can’t go all the way to the top.

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