Mateusz Musialowski knows where he wants his final destination to be in football.
Less than a year into life at Liverpool, the teenager has done little to hide hopes of a long-term spot in the first team at Anfield.
“This is definitely the place I want to be and I will do everything to stay in this place,” he said of his brief promotion to the senior setup during March’s international break.
No one can claim he is lacking in ambition, at least.
At the age of just 17, the young frontman has already caught the eye of several outside of the Academy bubble at Kirkby.
Named as one of a 34-strong group for the club’s pre-season trip to Austria, the rest of the month will offer the player known affectionately as ‘Matty’ around the Academy ample opportunity to continue impressing Jurgen Klopp.
Unusually for the first days of pre-season, Liverpool are armed with several of their stars, with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane all part of the pack.
New boy Ibrahima Konate is also present alongside fellow defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, but it is not just established first-teamers who are hoping for a successful few weeks in Austria.
There will be as many as 10 Academy starlets with their more senior pros for the rest of month as players such as Kaide Gordon, Billy Koumetio and Leighton Clarkson all continue to learn from some of the best in the world in their respective positions.
Musialowski will be there too, trying to perform while getting a close-up glimpse of how a player like Salah operates as a wide forward, a position that has become arguably the most important and feted in football today.
Musialowski’s inclusion, one that was likely to have been agreed upon by elite development coach Vitor Matos and assistant manager Pep Lijnders, is just reward for an outstanding maiden campaign in Kirkby.
Signed from SMS Lodz in Poland last summer, he spent his first term on Merseyside wowing onlookers with a dribble-heavy style that saw him nicknamed, by some at least, as ‘the Polish Hazard’.
Such lofty comparisons are often attempted to be nipped in the bud by those wary of expecting too much of young hopefuls, but Musialowski’s ability is striking at such a young age.
“To train with, he’s very technical and it’s very difficult to get the ball off him,” says one colleague in the youth ranks.
“The ball seems to stick to his feet and he is very fast and agile too. He has a really good attitude as well.”
They are characteristics that bode well for a career in football, then.
Such a style was evidenced by a stunning solo goal against Newcastle back in March.
Sailing past a handful of challengers, the goal – one Musialowski claimed was learned from studying the great Lionel Messi – won the club’s in-house Goal of the Month competition.
It was the first time a player outside of the first team had won the award since 2013.
For Musialowski, though, it was the type of goal that he believes is his trademark.
“That was my typical goal in Poland,” he said of the mazy run and finish. “For some, it could be difficult but I find it easy when I am doing this on the pitch.”
“I love to take the ball, just dribble through everyone. This is my style of playing football.
“When I dribble [past] the first player, I feel more confident, but when I just start running, I just go. Coaches from Poland and here never told me to stop, so that’s why I continue!”
Liverpool’s coaches have no desire to eradicate it from his game as of yet, either.
On the special strike against the Magpies, he added: “When I see the space, I just go for it.
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“I have seen a lot of Lionel Messi goals like that, so I try to be like him and I want to repeat it!”
If you are going to replicate a style, there are worse players to imitate, even if it will take some time before further comparisons to the iconic Messi will be seriously made.
Clearly, though, this is a young player who will back himself to the hilt.
“Everyone has seen Mateusz now,” said Under-18s captain Jarrell Quansah in May. “His dribbling is unbelievable.”
Musialowski will get his chance to show what he can really do alongside more experienced operators when the Reds kick off their pre-season friendly run on July 20.
The club have taken the unusual decision to fit in two 30-minute games next week against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart, with both fixtures being played behind closed doors.
A meeting with Klopp’s former side, Mainz, is next up on Friday July 23 before a meeting with Hertha Berlin on July 29.
Musialowski will be out to strut his stuff ahead of another important season in the youth ranks from August onwards.
“All the young talents who have come with us, our message is enjoy and keep this ‘updated’ phrase of Bob Paisley in your mind – we search for a player who nutmegs Virgil van Dijk in training but steps politely aside for him in the corridor,” says Lijnders.
One suspects that is a description that sits well on Musialowski, whose shy demeanour off the pitch is at odds with his supreme confidence with the ball at his feet.
After all, he has already nutmegged Fabinho in a training match at the AXA Centre earlier this year.
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“That is what the boss has created, to give young boys a chance and we always want to look at that model to find the ‘next one’ so he can develop,” says one Anfield source on the youngsters involved at pre-season.
“We have a good squad and they all help each other. The senior stars give them information in the same way the coaches do to improve them and we just try to help them make the next step.”
Liverpool were said to have fended off competition from Ajax, RB Leipzig and Arsenal last summer to land Musialowski.
Given Ajax’s legendary reputation for making stars out of young players through regular first-team action, Musialowski’s decision to move to Kirkby ahead of the Dutch side was a big indicator of how the Academy are getting it right at present.
The path to Liverpool’s first team is a steep one to walk given the current level of Klopp’s side, but Musialowski, who won’t turn 18 until October, has time to realise his dream.
For now, he will continue to grab opportunities such as the one given to him in Austria, before continuing his development with Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s Under-18s next season.
It is the next few weeks that are likely to be the biggest yet in the fledgling career of Musialowski, however.