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Liverpool's Solanke selling point as Klopp looks for edge over rivals

Liverpool's Solanke selling point as Klopp looks for edge over rivals

ESPN

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has said rivals Tottenham must win silverware before they can claim to have become the dominant club in North London.

Cech, whose team take on Spurs in a derby on Saturday, told Sky Sports Spurs needed a trophy in order to show "progression."

Tottenham finished above Arsenal last season, the first time in 22 years that had happened, having been pipped to second place by them on the final day of the campaign before that.

But Cech, asked whether the balance between the rivals had changed, said: "No, I don't think so.

"There is always one odd year where things can change, but the most important thing for us is competing against the other teams for the Premier League title and for the glory.

"We are not competing against Tottenham Hotspur. Our target is to win the title and be successful during the season, not necessarily looking at what Tottenham are doing.

"They've been there in the last few years so now I think they have to make sure they win something to show the progression. Success is ultimately winning trophies."

And the former Chelsea goalkeeper praised Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, saying he had been "the big factor" in their improvement.

"You can see from his work at Southampton that he is very capable as a manager and coach," he added.

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Watford have rejected an approach from Everton for their manager Marco Silva, sources close to the Vicarage Road club have told ESPN FC.

Everton are continuing their search for a new manager following the sacking of Ronald Koeman and Silva has emerged as one of their top targets.

Watford are determined to keep hold of Silva as they look to build on his promising start to life at Vicarage Road this season and have informed Everton that any approach will not be welcome.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Silva would be interested in speaking to Everton about the vacancy at Goodison Park, but it remains to be seen if Watford would change their stance on the Toffees' interest.

Everton under-23s coach David Unsworth is currently in caretaker charge of the club and secured his first win against Silva's Watford before the international break.

Silva has done well at Watford since taking over in the summer and the club currently sit ninth in the Premier League.

The 40-year-old joined Watford after leaving Hull at the end of last season. Despite failing to steer Hull to safety from relegation to the Championship, Silva impressed in the role after replacing Mike Phelan in January.

Another target for Everton, former England boss Sam Allardyce, is also reportedly out of the running after he cooled his interest in the position as the club were only willing to give him a short-term deal until the end of the season, with the 63-year-old keen on a long-term contract.

Peter O'Rourke is ESPN FC's transfer news correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @SportsPeteO.

Dominic Solanke's call up to the full England squad for Tuesday's friendly with Brazil may be a little surprising given that the striker has yet to even start a Premier League game, but Liverpool should be using his promotion to their advantage when trying to persuade the brightest young stars that Anfield is the best place for their future development.

This year has shown us that English football is awash with talented young players, as England won World Cups at both Under-20 and U17 level. You can't do that without having some special players coming through the system, but those players need the opportunity to play if they are to fulfil their potential.

Solanke was the top scorer in the U20 World Cup, while his Liverpool teammate Rhian Brewster emulated his achievement for the U17s. The pair have more in common than just a Liver bird on their chest and a golden boot on their mantelpiece, though. Both left Chelsea for Liverpool because they saw a clearer path to the first team and perhaps others will now follow their lead?

Solanke, 20, has made just one start for Liverpool (in a Carabao Cup defeat at Leicester) but he has been a regular coming off the bench. Possibly he should have played even more than he has, but at least he is featuring now which was not the case at Chelsea. Brewster is three years younger and has understandably not appeared at senior level yet, although he has been an unused substitute in a Premier League fixture and regularly trains with the first team.

The point is, Jurgen Klopp has made both feel as though they have a bright future with his team and the more chances they get the more their peers will take note. Players on international duty always talk to each other about life at their clubs and there may now be some envy from teammates when Solanke and Brewster are discussing the opportunity they have with Liverpool.

There will certainly be players in those England youth squads who are on the radar of Liverpool's scouts, and perhaps some of them may even be considering following the path chosen by Solanke and Brewster. If so, Liverpool need to be in position to pounce, and being able to point to Solanke in the full England squad can only help.

What would help even more is seeing him in Liverpool's team more often, and therein lies the difficulty for Klopp.

The German speaks glowingly about the talent and potential of his young players such as Solanke, Brewster, Ben Woodburn, Marko Grujic and others, but finding room for even one of them in his starting XI is difficult due to the expectations of everyone connected to Liverpool. He needs to somehow find a way though, because Liverpool cannot compete financially with some of their rivals and therefore need to think more outside of the box.

Attracting the best young players might be their best chance to level the playing field, but to do that they need to be able to offer something their rivals cannot; a clear path to the first team. Of course there is risk involved when the players have not reached their full potential and you need to pick your spots when introducing them to the team. Going out of the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle was damaging in this regard and has made it more difficult for Klopp to select his younger players, but he at least seems prepared to give youth a chance. Joe Gomez (another who has been called up by England) has been a regular this season, while Trent Alexander-Arnold has also seen plenty of action, especially in Europe.

The reality is that youngsters at the wealthiest clubs have little chance of forcing their way into the first team picture, hence Solanke and Brewster both ending up at Liverpool. It's one of the few advantages Klopp has over those he is competing with. Perhaps some of Manchester City's best prospects could also be lured away by the chance to play first team football? Or those at Chelsea or even Arsenal?

There are at least three players in Liverpool's academy set up who quit Arsenal to move to Merseyside, and there are others who defected from City too. None were as high profile captures as Solanke and all were several years younger, but nevertheless there is a trend emerging.

Liverpool are a wealthy club themselves of course and can still compete at the top end of the market, but they have to pick and choose their battles carefully. They do not have the luxury of doing what City did last summer and splurge £133million on full-backs for instance.

They can perhaps buy one or two big money players each summer, but going head to head with City, United and Chelsea is impossible so they need to be smart, and luring away their rivals' best young talent is one way of doing that.

Liverpool must now use Solanke's call up as a selling point to every young player they want to sign as it might be the only edge they currently have over their rivals. To maintain that edge though, they are going to have to find a way to get Solanke and some of their other talented prospects extended playing time in the first team.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN's Liverpool bloggers and the founder of LFC fanzine and website The Liverpool Way. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.

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