Zimbabwe teenage football sensation, Isaac Mabaya is billed to follow in the footsteps of Trent Alexander-Arnold after making considerable progress in the age-group sides of Liverpool.
Mabaya, who recently turned 16, has pushed his way into the Liverpool Under-18 squad and caught the eye of the academy coach, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson.
The Zimbabwean starlet marked his debut, in the Under-18 side, with a second-half cameo, in the 1-3 defeat to Manchester City.
He scored the Reds’ consolation goal.
Mabaya is normally used as a midfielder but is now being tried in the rightback position.
Alexander-Arnold famously switched from midfield to become Jurgen Klopp’s first choice right-back in recent seasons.
Bridge-Wilkinson told the Liverpool Echo he has been impressed by the progress made by Mabaya.
“It’s something we have been looking at in training in the last week, so we felt it was right to give Isaac a go,” Bridge-Wilkinson said.
“I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve worked with Isaac for the last two years or so, on and off.
“I know an awful lot about him, his game and his character. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s capable of playing at this level.”
Mabaya signed his first contract at Liverpool at the age of eight in 2013.
He has risen through the age-group teams and has already been capped by England at Under-16 level.
However, he can still switch allegiance to Zimbabwe, in the future, as he qualifies through his parents.
The teenager’s father, David, worked as a pharmacist at United Bulawayo Hospitals up to 2000, before relocating to England.
They hail from Mutare where he last visited in 2014.
Mabaya, who idolises former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, has also been following Zimbabwean football closely.
England-based former Zimbabwe footballer, Charlie White, has urged ZIFA to keep track of the exciting youngster.
“Isaac, who has been following the exploits of Marvelous Nakamba, Khama Billiat, Marshall Munetsi, Knowledge Musona and Tino Kadewere, could be a coup for the Zimbabwe national team Under-17.
“Able to play as a winger or wingback, I watched him play as a linkman and I can say I have seen another Seth Patrick, who practically dominates the midfield.
“That is what we need in our national team — players with guts, skill and intelligence.
“He played for England Under-15 on April 27th, 2019, at age 14, and later in August for the Under-16 at age 14 years and 11 months.
“Isaac has expressed his willingness to play for Zimbabwe. He can change as he is under the age stipulated by FIFA,” said White.
Mabaya showed promise on his first day in the Under-18s.
“It was a big moment for him,” said the Under-18s individual coach/head of analysis, Tim Jenkins.
“He actually got one in pre-season against Manchester United as well, so he is developing quite a nice habit of coming off the bench, as a midfield player and scoring.
“It’s great to have those guys around. We have a lot of injuries at the moment with four or five who are out fairly long-term at the moment.” Liverpool senior team recently opened the doors to Academy graduates Rhys Williams, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones. The Herald