Sheffield United: Liverpool's decision to place Ben Woodburn at Bramall Lane is a major endorsement of Chris Wilder's methods

Ben Woodburn has arrived at Bramall Lane
Ben Woodburn has arrived at Bramall Lane
0
Have your say

He is one of the brightest young talents in the Premier League and nicknamed the 'Prince of Wales' by his parent club's manager.

And now Liverpool's Ben Woodburn can also call himself a Blade after being officially unveiled as Sheffield United fourth close season signing.

The teenager's arrival is both a major coup for Bramall Lane itself and, given Jurgen Klopp's belief in his potential, a significant endorsement of Chris Wilder's methods. Having vetoed previous approaches from Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa, the German steered Woodburn towards South Yorkshire having been impressed by his counterpart's coaching style and commitment to attacking football. Rather than being an exercise in simply parking the player, Klopp views this loan as a critical part of his development.

"Ben is a great signing for us," Wilder said. "He is an exciting player with undoubted quality.

"He's been involved with Liverpool throughout their pre-season and I'm delighted they've trusted us with one of their outstanding young prospects, who is a full international as a teenager."

Despite being two months shy of his 19th birthday, Woodburn arrives at United with an impressive résumé. Capped seven times by Wales, is he their second youngest ever goalscorer behind Gareth Bale and made his Liverpool debut, aged just 17, during a top-flight fixture against Sunderland. Still, Wilder and Klopp are acutely aware of the need to exercise patience. Viewed as a natural replacement for his international team mate David Brooks, who completed a £15m transfer to AFC Bournemouth last month, Woodburn is unlikely to struggle for opportunities. But the demands of regular first team football could initially prove a shock to the system given Woodburn has so far made only sporadic appearances at senior level.

"It's his first loan move and I'm sure it will be a great one for all parties," Wilder, speaking to United's official website, continued. "He makes goals and score goals with both feet, he can play in a couple of attacking positions and gives us flexibility at the top of the pitch."

Given the importance Wilder places on character, it is no coincidence that Woodburn is a former captain of Liverpool's under-19's after impressing then academy coach Steven Gerrard with his leadership skills.

"Ben deserves that responsibility," said Gerrard, explaining his decision at the time. "He has good knowledge having been around the first team for a year and he has had some international experience so he is further down the line than all of these players."

"I also know he is a positive influence around the dressing room," he added. "I haven’t just given Ben the captaincy because he is Ben Woodburn, he has got it on merit and he will lead by example in his performances."

Woodburn is expected to make his debut for United on Saturday evening when Wilder's side begin the new Championship season with a home fixture against Swansea City. With training time limited, the 50-year-old could name his latest acquisition on the bench before pitching him into action at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Fellow new arrivals John Egan, Dean Henderson and David McGoldrick are also expected to feature during the meeting with City, who were relegated from the top-flight last term.

"I had a chat with the manager and his aims for the season are the same as mine," Woodburn said. "I think this should suit my style of football. I'm looking forward to it and can't want to see what the season brings."