Forget Sterling, Ibe Is The New Currency At Anfield
Originally born in Bermondsey, London, and nabbed from a local club at an early age to play for Liverpool’s famed youth academy, he has long been touted as a special talent.
Quick, powerful, skilful & tricky, one would imagine the description fits Raheem Sterling… but it is, in fact, Jordon Ibe.
His goal against a Malaysian All-Stars selection today was a perfect example of the raw, but, at the same time, nearly polished potential of the England U21 international: a jinking, slaloming run inside from the right past a couple of defenders followed by a rocket with his left into the top corner.
It is not a one-off either; in fact, Ibe has been torturing teams for a year or so now, continuing his form from the tail-end of the 2014/2015 in which he made a startling breakthrough back in January. The 19-year-old had flitted in and around the first team squad since 2013, making his debut in the final game of the season against QPR.
Brendan Rodgers had already begun to put together a fearsome attack, though, with another precocious young talent in Raheem Sterling dovetailing beautifully with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. Ibe was sent out on loan to gain experience with a short spell at Birmingham.
He only managed a solitary goal in nine appearances with most Blues observers believing the fact their side were struggling so badly at the time had a negative effect on the boy despite his talent. A further loan the following summer to Derby proved much more fruitful, though.
The underage international thrived in Steve McLaren’s ultra-offensive line-up, playing on the left of a front three. He managed 5 goals in 13 appearances in the first three months of the season before Brendan Rodgers decided to recall him to his first team squad who were struggling to cope with the absence of Luis Suarez’s sale to Barcelona back in July.
Despite failing to score or assist in 12 league appearances, Ibe has Liverpool and England fans giddy with some dazzling displays. Comparisons with Raheem Sterling are natural. Both wingers have incredibly similar skill sets with wiry strength, rapid pace and quick feet.
What arguably separates them at this juncture, though, is Ibe’s more natural awareness and intelligence with the ball at his feet. If you watch him closely he constantly has his head up, watching for runners coming from various angles and has a rocket of a shot in his arsenal, too.
At 5 ft 10, he also has the look of a natural thoroughbred when in flight as opposed to Sterling’s more scuttling style.
In a perfect world, Reds’ fans would have hoped and dreamed of a front-line containing Sterling, Ibe and Sturridge for years to come, but, as is so often the case in their position, it’s hard to satisfy the needs of overly ambitious youngsters.
The £49 million sale of Raheem Sterling to Man City was a real kick in the teeth for the club and its supporters, especially in terms of how the 20-year-old and his representative, Aidy Ward, engineered the move away.
Liverpool’s newest young starlet seems to be cut from a different cloth, though. Instead of a money-hungry, ruthless agent, Ibe’s career is in the hands of his parents, a mother and father, by all accounts, who have brought him up to be very humble and honest. One would imagine should Ibe out-grow Liverpool in the coming years, any departure will be much more honourable and dignified than his fellow Londoner.
Reds’ fans still upset with Raheem Sterling can content themselves with the knowledge that in Jordon Ibe, they have another teenager with even greater potential and that the former’s departure could pave the way for an iconic career at Anfield for the latter.