Who is Joao Carlos Teixeira?
An extremely gifted central midfielder who earned comparisons with Deco during his time at Sporting Lisbon, Teixeira moved to Liverpool in February 2012 after excelling against the Reds in the NextGen series. The 20-year-old made his first appearance at Anfield for the Portuguese side and, in front of a host of Liverpool first team players sat in the stands, scored the first goal in an emphatic 3-0 win. His assured performance in the heart of midfield was enough to catch the eye of Liverpool's Academy Director Frank McParland who quickly snapped up the talented youngster.
However, the deal nearly fell through because of a sever back problem which kept the Portugal Under-18 star in a back brace for some six months. "We knew when we saw him he was one for us and when we got the chance to sign him the manager backed me and we spent a considerable sum on him," McParland told the Daily Mail. "The trouble was when we got to the medical his back was in a seriously bad way. We questioned going ahead with it but he was worth the risk.He was put in a back brace for six months and after some fantastic work by the physios he is starting to play again. He is going to be a top, top player."
Teixeira would eventually make his debut for the Under-18 side in the 8-1 friendly win over Exeter last July. He has since forced his way into the Under-21 set up under Alex Inglethorpe and scored his second goal of the season in the recent 2-1 win over West Brom. Playing alongside the likes of Suso, Adam Morgan, who have both featured in the first team this season, Teixeira enjoys playing as an attacking midfielder and admits he models his game on Brazilian great Kaka.
Teixeira on....his style of play
"I'm an attacking midfielder - an eight or 10. I really liked Kaka when he was at AC Milan - I always followed him, he's my model. I prefer to play in the middle because that's where I played all my life. We train a lot to play the Spanish game so I don't feel too much difference. The physical contact is different and difficult, and it's much colder. But the teams are trying to play the same way as the Spanish."
Teixeira on....why he chose to move to Liverpool
"When we came to play we were talking about it at Sporting. Liverpool is a big club and the stadium has a lot of history. We were excited to play there; I really enjoyed it and I was happy to score. One of the reasons I signed was the stadium, the history of the club, and I know I can have a chance to play in the first team here. I made the right choice and I'm really happy here.
"I support Sporting Lisbon, and in England I support Liverpool. Liverpool is a massive club, in the top ten of the biggest clubs in the world. I'm going to the stadium a lot to watch the first team. It's amazing. My first time listening to 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the stadium was unbelievable."
Teixeira on....coping with his injury nightmare
"I feel fit now. Sometimes I feel some pain in my back but I have work to do on that. I always feel ready to play after that. It was really hard because after training four times here they told me I couldn't train anymore because of the problem with my back.
"I was frustrated, because I was playing really well at Sporting and I came here and couldn't play. Seven months without training and playing was really hard for me. My teammates and people working at the club helped me with everything. Whatever my problem was, they always helped me - I have to say thank you."
Just like his hero Kaka, Teixeira excels with the ball at his feet. He is incisive with his passing and rarely looks troubled when in possession, no matter how much pressure he comes under. He is very attack minded and is always looking for an opportunity to assist his striker, whether than be through a clever pass or an intelligent run. Confident with either foot, he has also demonstrated a calmness in front of goal that makes him a genuine threat when in the final third.
Technically it is virtually impossible to find a flaw so the main problem could well be his physique and fitness. The midfielder admits he still sometimes feels a pain in his back and the Liverpool staff may well have to work out a specific regime to strengthen his core. Also when playing a central role in a traditional 4-4-2 he will need to improve his defensive skills. This is not just his tackling but understanding his duties and making sure he tracks runners.
Will he be a success at Liverpool?
Brendan Rodgers has shown his faith in the Liverpool youth system by handing first team opportunities to several members of the academy including the likes of Raheem Sterling, Adam Morgan, Suso and Andre Wisdom; all of whom played for the NextGen side last season. Teixeira has forced his way into the Under-21 side which has excelled this season and his natural talent has shone through. There are clear similarities to former Portugal star Deco in the way he exudes confidence on the ball, always looks at ease and plays with his head on a swivel. If he can remain fit then there is no reason why he will not be handed a chance in the first team and learning from the likes of Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho will surely help him. Having come from the same academy that produced Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Nani and Joao Moutinho, Teixiera has the perfect grounding to make a big impact at Liverpool.