Although he is less than 19 years old, looking at his career from the side, you can already get the impression that there is no next step in it. As if Mateusz Musia³owski at some point, instead of moving forward, it slowly began to back up. Today Juergen Klopp invites him to training for his team much less often. He no longer orders him to take the ball and sway with Trent Alexander-Arnold, as in April 2021, to prepare the England international for a game in the Champions League quarter-finals with Vinicius Junior, an extremely talented winger Real Madrid.
The German coach then decided that Musiałowski was able to move the ball in a similar way and would most accurately reproduce his game. Three months later, Liverpool offered the Pole his first professional contract, and Klopp unexpectedly entered him on the 34-person list of players for the summer training camp of the first team. There were the biggest stars and the most talented young footballers, who in the following months saw appearances in less prestigious matches of the national cups or the Champions League. Musiałowski, however, still appeared in adult football only during the fifteen-hour sparring with Strasbourg played in July. This summer, Klopp did not take him on a pre-season tour, and for several months he did not invite his first team to practice. At the beginning of this season, the Pole also appears in the reserve team less frequently than last year.
– At the academy they are irritated by his many losses and his attitude in matches and training. Sluggishness, not being involved in defense, and not fulfilling tactical tasks. Reserves are already the vestibule of adult football, and Musiałowski is not ready for it yet – tells us one of the people close to the club.
Juergen Klopp shouted with delight, and the media outdid each other in comparisons
It all looked impressive. Musiałowski was 17 years old, he was at the Liverpool academy for less than a year, and almost all the fans knew him. On the internet, there were often short recordings of his matches, where he scored goals after his solo actions. Everyone counted how many rivals passed this time and that he would get a chance in the first team at any moment. Klopp saw with his own eyes how the Pole deceived the defenders of Arsenal and scored a goal in the prestigious FA Youth Cup match. The breakthrough was March 2021. Many Liverpool players left for the national team camps, so Klopp invited the most talented players from the academy in their place. Musiałowski immediately caught his eye.
– Mateusz did not knock on the door, he just broke it. What a talent! He is constantly looking for something new in the attack. He can use the smallest gap to create a situation. Quality does not need large spaces. There are young players who are immediately appreciated in the first team. This is what happened with Mateusz – said Juergen Klopp’s assistant Pepijn Lijnders in an interview with Sport.pl.
Musiałowski then played in Liverpool’s internal sparring and fared very well. It was loud that in one of the actions he missed the ball between Fabinho’s legs. Klopp reportedly screamed with delight, and after the match he returned to this situation to mock the Brazilian. He also found a moment to talk to a Pole. He invited him to another training session, and at the same time pointed him to things to improve. Musiałowski could not be surprised, as he heard similar remarks from an early age: that he cannot focus only on attacking and he still has to work on making decisions – when the kiwka will be better and when the pass will be better. And he should be physically stronger, because an adult ball has completely different requirements.
Most of the young players, after a few training sessions with the first team, returned to classes in their age categories. But not Musiałowski, who was training under Klopp at the end of April. It was then that articles about “Polish Messi” were written, and the Polish and English media competed in comparisons to Hazard, Salah or just Messi. Were they exaggerated? Certainly, but the idea was to make the fans aware of who the young Pole resembles with his style of play and how much talent he has. Hearing these comparisons, everyone knew it was a player with great dribbling, coordination, agility, and a host of other offensive skills.
Mateusz Musiałowski with a new contract in Liverpool liverpoolfc.com
Virale is not everything. There are five unsuccessful actions per one share that the internet conquers
Some of these lofty comparisons were supposed to hurt Musiałowski. We hear that he took them too literally and over-believed in his own greatness. He never lacked self-confidence, which coaches usually indicated as an advantage, but the line to self-righteousness was to be crossed. In the Liverpool academy, the story has become famous that Musiałowski compared to Roberto Firmino, the author of over a hundred goals for Klopp’s team – the teenager said that he was not weaker than him. It is difficult to confirm the credibility of this story, but the very fact how many people assume it to be true says a lot about Musiałowski’s high self-esteem.
And this is an important topic because, according to several of our interlocutors, it is supposed to hinder the development of a young footballer. Simply put: the Pole does not always listen to the instructions of the coaches and he sometimes plays according to his own convictions on the pitch. He is an individualist. An artist who can carry out impressive actions that other players cannot afford. Pure water talent. Big, even by the terms of the great English academies. And yes – the coaches approach such players individually, they treat them in a unique way, but in the case of Musiałowski it is more and more difficult to be patient. We hear that in matches per action, which later becomes an internet hit, there are five unsuccessful ones, after which the team has to chase the ball. The Pole does not do it. He’s not a worker type. He would still prefer to focus only on attacking, which was still going through in junior football, but in club reserves – more and more reminiscent of an adult game – it ceases to be acceptable. It is not only about bravery on the pitch, but also determination understood much more broadly. At some point, talent simply becomes insufficient and hard work is required to be successful.
Musiałowski’s worse form is also visible in the number of minutes played in the reserves – 731 in 2021 and 246 until September 2022. Musiałowski started this season in a second team, he played 25 minutes with Manchester City and 63 minutes from Brighton, but in the last three games he has not been in the squad. This pattern is known from the previous season – the Pole is still being returned to the U-18 team. For eleven months he has not played even in three consecutive matches of the reserves. Neither has he been nominated by Liverpool for the Champions League youth matches. There were as many as 40 players on the list.
A missed opportunity at a camp in Austria
In April 2021, we wrote in Sport.pl that in autumn Musiałowski could make his debut in the Liverpool first team. We chose the first English League Cup matches as an opportunity, in which Klopp used to save the most important players. We were suggested by our interlocutors who were close to Liverpool academy. The next steps – signing the contract and going to the summer camp – showed that everything was going in this direction. So what went wrong? At the camp in Austria, Musiałowski did not play a minute due to a minor injury. But the problems started even before departure. The Pole was in trouble at the airport due to the lack of vaccination against coronavirus, which was required to get to Austria without problems. The club was supposed to warn him that failure to vaccinate would complicate his plans.
In September, in the match 1/16 of the English League Cup with Norwich, a few young players actually played, who presented themselves well at the camp with the first team in the summer – Conor Bradley was in the basic squad on the right-back, and Tyler Morton changed Naby during the break. Keita’s ego. Bradley is Musiałowski’s peer, and Morton is a year older. An even better opportunity for a debut was the match against Preston in the next round. Even more young players played there: Neco Williams, Harvey Blair, Owen Beck, Elijah Dixon-Bonner and again Bradley and Morton. As Lewis Bower, a journalist from Liverpool, reported in an interview with “Weszło”, Musiałowski was going through the Covid-19 at that time. , but in fact he lost the entire end of the season – he explained. Polish scouts from Great Britain argued that Musiałowski was not in this time injured.
Then – in January – even more young players played in the first round of the FA Cup. Liverpool then struggled with many cases of Covid-19, which is why many English editorial offices announced that Musiałowski could make his debut in this match. Unfortunately, the Pole was also sick, although, as his agent assured, it was not Covid-19. Still, however, the only minutes that Musiałowski got from Klopp are those from the sparring with Strasbourg, played on July 31, 2022 – the day after the match with Manchester City for the Community Shield. The Pole then entered the last quarter of an hour and flashed one spectacular dribble.
What’s next? He was interested in Lech Poznań and Raków Częstochowa
In the summer there were many indications that Musiałowski would say goodbye to Liverpool. For a while – as part of a loan to a weaker club or even permanently. Liverpool hesitated over what decision to make. Doubts raised above all whether the Pole will now find himself in adult football, since he has a problem with being found in the club’s reserves. Changing the environment to a less secure one could be both beneficial and very negative.
On the one hand, Liverpool still see a lot of potential in Musiałowski and does not want to lightly hand over a player with such high individual skills, on the other hand, however, there has been a growing frustration among the coaches that the Pole is not determined enough to use this potential for a long time. Despite various attempts to reach him, he still does not implement guidelines as willingly as most of his peers, and contact with him is difficult. It’s not about the language barrier, because it doesn’t exist, but about the introverted nature and reluctance to talk. We hear that even people from Musiałowski’s close circle find it difficult to cooperate with him on a daily basis. For several months now, the selectors of the youth teams have also bounced off the wall: they called, texted, but rarely received an answer. However, Michał Prukaj succeeded and the teenager from Liverpool should appear at the September youth training camp.
Many Polish clubs are watching Musiałowski. It is normal practice that the top-class teams keep an eye on young Poles going abroad. When they are not doing well, they can call and invite them over. Youth players are valued, and since a foreign club has noticed something in such a player, there is a chance that it will flourish in the weaker and slower league. Raków Częstochowa and Śląsk Wrocław asked about Musiałowski, which had previously attracted Łukasz Bejger from the Manchester United academy on a similar basis. At the end of the transfer window, Lech Poznań was also interested, but the footballer himself, according to “Sports Facts”, had to decide to stay in Liverpool.
We have heard that in recent months Musiałowski has, in a way, become a hostage of his talent. He was not used to hard work, because until now everything in football was easy for him. On the other hand, had it not been for this talent, he might not have been in Liverpool anymore. But he is still only an 18-year-old who still has time to support his innate skills with solid training. It just has to want to.