Liverpool have confirmed that teenage midfielder Matteo Ritaccio has signed his first professional contract with the club.
The Reds’ official website liverpoolfc.com reported that the 18-year-old player, who is a member of the club’s Academy, penned a professional deal at Anfield, having been involved with the under-18 side since the start of last season.
According to liverpoolfc.com, the teenager is injured at present and is continuing his rehabilitation at the club’s Academy in Kirkby.
New York-born Ritaccio was spotted by Liverpool at a training camp for the USA national team when he was 13 and he came to the club in summer 2018, linking up with Barry Lewtas’ under-18 squad. [via liverpoolfc.com]
He has played mostly as a defensive midfielder for the under-18 side, although he has also operated at central midfield and on the left flank in recent weeks.
He is described as “a tough-tackling and exciting player” by liverpoolfc.com and he can get forward to good effect, with one goal and two assists from five appearances for the under-18s this season.
Ritaccio’s personality and attitude has been commended in multiple quarters. Lewtas described his performance on his home debut for the under-18s against Manchester United last year as “brave”, along with commending the manner in which he handled a transatlantic change of address at such a young age. [via Liverpool Echo]
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His former club BW Gottschee spoke about him in glowing terms before his move to Liverpool, describing him as “humble, coachable, driven”. [via Liverpool Echo]
Ritaccio will have seen several teenagers at the club being given chances in the first team recently, with Ki-Jana Hoever, Harvey Elliott, Rhian Brewster, Sepp van den Berg, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones all featuring in the Reds’ Carabao Cup run.
The quarter-final tie at Aston Villa next month, which falls less than 24 hours before Liverpool’s Club World Cup semi-final in Qatar, may have been an ideal opportunity for a first team debut, but a leg injury sustained earlier in the season is expected to keep him out until January, as per liverpoolfc.com.
It is a pity that Ritaccio won’t have recovered in time for the Carabao Cup trip to Aston Villa, as that may have been an opportunity for a first team appearance given Liverpool’s manic December schedule.
However, he could look at how the likes of Hoever, Brewster and Elliott have been given sporadic first team chances and believe that he may get his break under Jurgen Klopp over the next year.
Also, having played only a solitary minute for the Reds’ under-23 side, perhaps it is best for his development to continue organically rather than being thrust straight into the first team for a competitive fixture, irrespective of the circumstances.
Liverpool fans, do you think Ritaccio could be given a glimpse of first team football at some stage in 2020? Comment below with your views!
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