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Tyler Morton of Liverpool: in front of Trent in midfield, the advice of Klopp and Loving Blackburn



Tyler Morton of Liverpool: in front of Trent in midfield, the advice of Klopp and Loving Blackburn

When Tyler Morton chose to join Liverpool on Everton, he probably did not expect one day to play a blue kit with a blue kit.

“It’s a bit strange”, chuckles Liverpool fan, wearing a Royal Blue Blackburn Rovers training stop.

The 20-year-old midfielder has played in Liverpool Red since he arrived at the club at the pre-Academy level, five years. His nine performances for Jurgen Klopp’s first team means that Morton belongs to a selected group of players who presented for each age group. This season he looks proud to wear the blue – and white – of Blackburn in what is his first loan spell.
“He was so weird to me,” he tells The Athletic. “I only knew Liverpool, so going to another club and switching shirts is something I never thought I’d do. It was so strange, but I think I adapted to everything pretty quickly. I love it. It’s a great place and I couldn’t have picked a better club.

Morton’s rise to Liverpool over the past two seasons has seen clubs keenly interested in him on a season-long loan when the time comes.
It was Blackburn who won the race. Morton attributes this to a number of reasons, but says manager Jon Dahl Tomasson played a pivotal role in making the decision. Morton believes Tomasson, who has played for Feyenoord, AC Milan and Newcastle during his career, has a similar approach to Klopp.
After meeting the former Denmark international in person, Morton and his father Scott were convinced of Tomasson’s vision. Before completing the move, Morton also contacted fellow midfielders Jordan Henderson and James Milner.
“Hendo and Milner were great with me, especially before I was loaned out,” he reveals. “I spoke to them a lot because they are very experienced professionals. I wanted to talk to them about what I intended to do, which was to go on loan. I got a lot of life advice from them. They are amazing with me.

Morton says Henderson was a huge help in his development.

Morton feels he has the full support of everyone at Liverpool. The club’s director of loan management Dave Woodfine visited Blackburn earlier this month to watch a training session and check it out afterwards. As well as visits from Woodfine, each player on loan takes part in a group chat with Klopp, his assistant Pep Lijnders and elite development coach Vitor Matos.

“We talk about it from time to time. There are messages of them saying good luck and then there’s also praise when it’s due. They like to come by and talk to us with the guys on loan.”

Before joining Blackburn, Morton trained full-time with Klopp’s side. Thiago was a player who immediately caught the eye.
“It’s unreal to play with people like Thiago. You just have to train next to him and see him move and his vision and awareness are unmatched. He keeps you acute, because when you are in his team, he will play a step if he doesn’t even think he’s possible.”

Each Blackburn fan will tell you that Morton has so far been one of the best players in the club, in this period if they insist on top of the championship and promotion to the Premier League. The form he now demonstrates weekly did not take place immediately.

“People forget that this is my first season professional. I am still used to that first team environment and football. I was just finding my feet really at first.”

Morton turned 20 last month and already has a lot of experience to draw on. He was part of last season’s League Cup and FA Cup winning sides, as well as part of a group of players who came agonizingly close to winning a quadruple trophies after taking the Premier League title race to on the last day of the season and having reached the Champions League final.

Being around the first team and Klopp in particular felt surreal at first, but it’s something that soon became the norm.
As well as experiencing top-flight football in England, Morton also appeared twice in the Champions League last season. He started the home match against Porto at Anfield in November and against Milan at the San Siro in December. That night in Italy was a special event not only for Morton but also for his academy teammate Max Woltman. The pair were scouted by Liverpool while playing for Wallasey-based grassroots side Greenleas.

Morton’s career is obviously already filled with many highlights.

“It’s hard to pick a favourite,” he smiles. “Every time I step onto the pitch, everything feels so good, like I should be here. This is where I want to be. This is what I’ve been working on for all these years. Now I have to work hard to keep doing it.

“I like to go step by step. I have ambitions, but if I look back 10 years from now and have stayed fit and healthy and had a great professional career, I’d be completely thrilled. Anything above that, like trophies, is a plus. Whoever I play for, whoever I represent, I will give everything for that team.

“I’m at Blackburn this year so I want to start and do my best here. I already have a lot of love for the club and the fans for taking me under their wing. I couldn’t be more grateful to them. Hopefully we can repay them with the promotion.”

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