Liverpool's Rhian Brewster on loan at Swansea: EFL future star
Last Updated: 19/05/20 10:46am
Rhian Brewster is set to be a future star in English football after impressing for Swansea during a loan spell from Liverpool.
Here, Sky Sports' EFL pundits Keith Andrews and Don Goodman assess the 20-year-old's attributes and tell us why he is such a special talent...
What is it about him that makes him so highly-rated?
Andrews: I was involved with the Irish under-age teams and we played the England team in the quarter-finals of the 2017 European Championships. What I noticed from watching him in the games in the build-up to that was that he was very patient as a centre forward. There wasn't a real eagerness to come and get involved in general build-up play, he allowed the very good players to dictate possession and would wait for that service to come. I think we would've seen more of this fellow but for the injury he sustained, which has probably held him back a good six to 12 months. Bearing in mind he's just turned 20 puts it into perspective.
I think he's a natural goalscorer but I think you've got to judge him on the games he's played so far. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves but in the games he's played, the steps he's taken at international level against top opposition, he's had no problem. He just looks very comfortable and with the composure that he shows in front of goal, he is lethal. His general build-up play maybe needs to be worked on but there's going to be aspects of every part of his game that slightly need to be worked on. The biggest thing he's got going for him is the fact that he's an instinctive finisher. He doesn't thrash at things, he's very composed and he has a knack for heading as well. He can't overpower 6ft2in centre-halves, he has to out-cute them. He has to get in-between areas and he does that very well.
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Goodman: He's got this explosive burst of pace and he seems to have really good football intelligence, so his movement is very clever and, when I watch clips of him finishing, there's such a variety. I had a real good chat to Steve Cooper about him and the work ethic, he said, is right up there as one of his best attributes and that comes down to mentality. He's likeable, he's got a big heart and he's a bit of a joker, apparently. All the things that make you popular in the dressing room. He also said that he's confident in his own ability but without being too far because when that goes too far, it turns into arrogance.
When you think about that at the end of the day, in this period of his career it's really important that we and everybody surrounding the player don't run ahead of themselves because you are never, ever the finished article. You are always improving. There are things that Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero can probably do better. That mentality that we've been led to believe he's got will stand him in good stead because he strikes me as one of those lads that's going to want to go into training, work hard every day and try and get better. If you can do that, the world's your oyster.
Is Steve Cooper the perfect manager for him to develop under?
Andrews: That's an important point. Nowadays there's real due diligence that goes into trying to pick the right club for the individual player. I would imagine the very top teams in the Championship were chomping at the big to get him in and maybe he wouldn't have been an automatic starter but he could've gone to a team vying for automatic promotion. A little bit down the league, less pressure to a degree - outside chance of play-offs but I don't think, personally, they would have got there - but the style of play, the familiarity of a coaching team that he knows, he trusts, the feel of the dressing room. I think these are all important components of how you settle into first team life. I thought it was a very clever move by Liverpool.
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Goodman: Absolutely. Jurgen Klopp didn't just let him go to any old club, he looked at where he'd get the best education and - very importantly - where he would get regular first-team football. There were lots and lots of Championship clubs in so there were choices for Klopp and Brewster but the fact they had that relationship from the England days, Swansea City's style of play that they adopt, I think certainly helped them decide that Swansea was going to be a very good education ground for him. I think that familiarity just allowed him to hit the ground running. It didn't take him any time whatsoever to settle in. He knew the coaches, he knew Cooper's methods and he's got off to a flying start because of that."
Do you think he's ready to step up into first team contention at Liverpool?
Andrews: I think it depends on Jurgen Klopp's belief in him and how much game time he's going to get. If he's going to get enough minutes, he should stay. It's as simple as that, for me. One thing I would throw into that equation is that front three that Liverpool play. Roberto Firmino is not a natural centre forward; if he wanted to go with a natural-type centre forward then this lad fits the bill very well. I'm led to believe they do have a lot of belief in him, that he can go onto bigger and better things, but I just think it comes down to that. Can they guarantee him enough experience? They don't want him stagnating. He had glimpses in the Carabao Cup, played well and was getting experience through that but he needs to play football.
This little stint that he's had at Swansea is going to be priceless. Going to a fresh environment, a different dressing room, hearing different voices and having to play for three points on a Saturday afternoon, which isn't the case in U23s football. I think it very much comes down to that. Enough game time at Liverpool next season then he stays and becomes part of it. I'm talking 20 appearances as a rough gauge. If it's going to be less than that then I'd get him away to get 40-50 games under his belt at Championship level, keep him at Swansea for another year.
I look at the periphery players of that front three and the options that they have. The likes of Divock Origi - I know he's scored hugely important goals for Liverpool - and Xherdan Shaqiri don't quite fit into it, for me, and Adam Lallana will probably move on when his contract runs out. I genuinely think there's a space in there for him, and with the way he's going, Jurgen Klopp is showing that he will introduce young players, Trent Alexander-Arnold being a prime example. This year, with the Carabao Cup, and the way it's been enforced that they've had a few opportunities to play in that competition, he'll have seen certain things from players that he likes and he'll have earmarked for next season to shape the squad in a different way. I wouldn't be surprised if Brewster is part of that squad.
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Goodman: I think this is an important stage of his development. You're talking about Liverpool, so you are talking about the champions-elect of the Premier League, champions of Europe - you are talking about one of the best teams in the world and you are talking about the plethora of talent they have at their disposal. They are constantly linked with Timo Werner, who is a terrific player. Yes, he's a talented young man but I personally think that another season in the Championship - probably with Swansea who play a style that suits him where he's already familiar - would do him good. If he stays at Swansea and can maybe pick up 15-20 Championship goals next season, I think that would be the best plan for him.
The biggest commodity of all to be a top player is the brain and he appears to have this mental strength. We know he's technically brilliant, he's a goalscorer and we know he's got a great work ethic but this is a key factor. Talking to Cooper and listening to the things he has to say, he believes that one day he'll be a top player. Whether that's with Liverpool or not, who knows, but he's got all the attributes and I don't see any reason that he won't go on and have a top career.