Report: Liverpool keen on Bolton's Gerrard-likened Josh Vela

Liverpool are said to be keeping close tabs on the emerging Josh Vela, who Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon has even compared to Reds skipper Steven Gerrard.

Liverpool are monitoring the progress of Bolton Wanderers midfielder Josh Vela, according to the Daily Mail.

Vela, 21, made his competitive debut for the club in the Premier League in April 2012 but, after being hit with various injuries in recent seasons, it wasn’t until this campaign that he started to earn regular first-team minutes.

Flourishing under the guidance of Neil Lennon, the Salford-native has made all of his 19 total appearances under the former Celtic boss, while spending most of his time at right-back.

He was back in his more familiar central midfield role for the recent FA Cup matches against Liverpool, however, where his performances are said have left a lasting impression on the top-flight club’s coaching staff.

Vela was in fact the subject of a £1 million bid from the Reds when he was 17, but his reputation coming up through the ranks at the Macron Stadium at the time saw Bolton turn it down.

Nevertheless, Lennon has compared his emerging star to the soon-to-depart Steven Gerrard, and it now looks like he could be earmarked as potential successor to the long-serving skipper.

“He has been absolutely outstanding since I came in the door,” Lennon told the Bolton News of Vela earlier this month. “I like his temperament.

“He reminds me a lot of Gerrard, in the way he handles himself on the pitch. That slim, athletic build, he handles the ball well and gets round the pitch, he's composed, can play a variety of positions.

 2014-15 PositionTeamGoalsAssistsTotal Key PassesPassing AccuracyDuels Won GAMEDuel SuccessTotal Tackles GAMEInterceptions GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Steven Gerrard MF Liverpool 6 1 42 86% 2.95 50% 1.82 0.68 22 1,771
Josh Vela MF Bolton 0 2 9 82% 4.56 54.48% 2.31 2.06 16 1,261

“I'm not saying he's going to have the career that Steven Gerrard has had, but the way he carries himself on the pitch reminds me of him. Now don't make up a headline of me saying we've got the next Gerrard!”

Considering Gerrard was handed his Liverpool debut at right-back under Gerard Houllier, it’s hard not the get drawn into the comparisons between the pair, although Vela is still to get the chance to show whether he has the attacking skills which made the ex-England international so dangerous during the peak of his career.

However, as a solid, all-round prospect, who looks composed both in possession and defence, he is no doubt one to keep a close watch on.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch