Alex Inglethorpe’s Liverpool Under 21s have just returned from their pre-season tour of Ireland, in which they achieved 1-0 victories against Glentoran and Hearts, with Kris Peterson scoring in both games. However, many new faces were introduced to Under 21s football such as 16 year old Jordan Rossiter and a player named ‘Rafa’, but what do we know about this unknown trialist?Well, when he first appeared as a substitute against Glentoran there were two possible outcomes. Firstly, he could be a new signing and secondly he is a trialist with the club. Since there has been no official confirmation that the Academy have added to their 5 players already signed this transfer window, it is right to assume that ‘Rafa’ is a trialist because he is.
His name is Rafael Paez, and is currently on trial at Liverpool from Spanish giants Real Madrid. He is just 18 years of age and is a centre-back, but like many talented centre-backs, he can adapt and can play as a full-back when he is required to do so. Paez has been at Real Madrid since 2009 after a 3 year spell at Hercules, progressing up each youth side and is playing for Real Madrid’s ‘A’ side in 2013. Born in Alicante in Spain, Paez’s main feature is his height, as he is a towering 192cm and therefore uses his height to his advantage both offensively and defensively. This is the least people expect from Paez after his father, also called Rafael Paez, was a Spanish triple jump athlete.
With his height comes strength and he often can shield the ball and stop players getting past him very well. His favourite player and his idol is current Real Madrid defender Pepe, so that is part of an explanation as to why Paez is so strong. However, his height also has disadvantages. He is not the quickest centre-back to play for Liverpool but unlike many young, ambitious centre- backs, he realises this and will give himself an extra yard when marking defenders so that if a ball is played over the top of the defence, he will have a chance of beating an attacking to it. Now we know who Paez is, will he fit into the youth system at Liverpool? Well, his attributes have certainly sold himself as a promising player with him being tall, strong and intelligent. Also, he has won major honours in his short career, winning the Youth version of the Copa Del Rey earlier this year.
During his two games with the Reds, Paez did what he needed to do, helping the team keep clean sheets in both of their games and also creating chances offensively, testing Hearts ‘keeper Jamie Macdonald in the first half of the game. Paez seems to be a victim of his own success and the Reds are hesitant to sign him because he may halt the progress of Lloyd Jones and Kristof Polgar’s career, after Jones just signed a professional contract with the club and Polgar is now an Academy scholar.
Personally, I think Paez would be a great addition to the Under 21 line up, working alongside Stephen Sama, especially since Andre Wisdom looks to be going out on loan and Jon Flanagan seems to be off to Derby County.
Thanks for taking the time to read this feature of Liverpool trialist Rafael Paez, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Will you like to see Paez play for Liverpool Under 21s? Also for more content and for more updates on Liverpool and the Academy, follow me on Twitter (@scotttayloruk).