Neco Williams has answered claims he should leave Liverpool to make it to the top, by insisting Mo Salah and Sadio Mane offer all the challenge he requires.
Two outstanding performances for Wales, including a man of the match display against world number one Belgium, prompted even his own international boss Rob Page to suggest he wouldn’t be against the defender exiting Anfield in search of more game time.
But Williams believes that his daily training routine, where he must face the world class questions asked by Salah and Mane every single day, are enough at the moment to maintain his development.
The 20-year-old signed a five-year contract with the Reds in 2020, and he said: “For me when I signed my contract, the main thing was I needed to improve as a player.
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“And when I’m coming up against Mo Salah and Sadio Mane every day in training, it’s going to make me a better player.
“I feel like I’ve matured in my game, especially when you’ve got Salah and Mane running at you every day. It is hard, but it’s going to make me a better player and I feel like it definitely has helped me.
“I’m learning off them and it gives me a little battle with them, so I’m enjoying it.”
Williams won many plaudits for his performances in the international break, with Page describing him as “outstanding”, and many Wales fans were astonished at the level he showed.
And Page admitted afterwards, he wouldn’t be disappointed if several of his team decided to move on from their club sides in January, to ensure they play more often before a potential visit to the World Cup finals next year.
The full-back though, remains behind Trent Alexander-Arnold in the Liverpool team, and it is hard to see a way past such a key figure in Jurgen Klopp’s system, with the England man certain to start against Arsenal at the weekend.
Williams insisted he is still happy with his progress at Anfield, and he told the club website: “Obviously Salah and Mane are starting most games and to play against them near enough every day, it does feel great because it’s going to help me as a player.
Normally a day before a game we’ll do like an 11v11 with the starting team and the team who’s on the bench or the rest of the players. So I am learning, and I am definitely enjoying it.”
Klopp rates the youngster after introducing him into the Liverpool team at the tender age of 18, and he wants to find a way to get Williams into the starting XI.
One way would be to play him on the left side as he does for Wales, or even further forward – a role he fulfilled well in a man of the match performance for the Reds against Preston in the EFL Cup.
And Klopp has that chance this weekend, with first choice left back Andy Robertson unlikely to be risked against Arsenal, after picking up a hamstring injury. He must decide between Williams and Kostas Tsimikas and could spring a surprise by choosing the Welshman.