With the international break upon us and the frustration of the transfer window over, let us take a look at perhaps the brightest spark in Liverpool’s season thus far, Harvey Elliott.
The talent has always been there, Elliott was primed to be the next big talent to emerge from Liverpool's academy. What we could not predict however, was the meteoric rise and level of importance he seems to already have within the squad.
Many predicted Elliott would be off on another loan, perhaps this time to a Premier League club, after his successful spell at Blackburn Rovers in the Championship last season.
A Quick 2020/21 Roundup
The teenage sensation had a season to remember on loan at Blackburn Rovers. I distinctly remember the uproar the move from Liverpool to Blackburn caused on social media.
You had the typical lazy claims about his attitude and how Elliott was set to struggle with the physicality of the Championship. Well, 41 Championship games, 7 goals and 11 assists later, Elliott’s critics were silenced and oh, how sweet did it taste.
Highlights of his season came against Millwall, in which he scored Blackburn’s goal of the season, a lovely curled strike into the top corner. Moreover, Elliott demonstrated his fine dribbling ability with a dazzling solo goal against eventual Championship champions, Norwich.
Playing most of his football at right-wing for Blackburn, Elliott struck up an incredible partnership with now Southampton striker, Adam Armstrong. This exciting link-up was perhaps the high point in what became a disappointing season for the Ewood Park outfit.
The 2021/22 Expectation
Well, I think it is fair to say that every Liverpool fan’s expectation of Harvey Elliott has been blown out the water the last couple of weeks. Yes, we were well aware of his unique talent, but the meteoric rise into an integral member of the squad was entirely unexpected and welcome at the same time.
Deciding to cut his summer holidays short and join up with the under 23 team in pre-season training before the first team returned, there was a clear sense of determination within Elliott. Coupled with a new contract, Elliott was set to explode.
There has always been a spotlight around Elliott regarding his attitude, perhaps this stems from his even younger days as a footballer, where the press picked up on immature acts and wind ups by Elliott on social media.
Yet, what I have always sensed in Elliott is a desire to better himself on and off the pitch. Any young footballer would be insane not to soak in the mass of information and guidance made available by the world class pool of players and staff within Liverpool FC.
Hence, for me, my favourite story from pre-season this year was the story given by Pep Lijnders of Mohammad Salah simply telling Elliott to quit eating bread. This may sound ludicrous, but the subtle lessons learnt by Elliott from our top pro’s will undoubtedly set him in good stead for the future.
Onto the pitch where perhaps the biggest surprise of pre-season was witnessing Elliott regularly deployed as part of the midfield three. Despite playing the large majority of his young career at right wing, Elliott struck up a great bond with James Milner and Naby Keita in midfield, in which he played on the right of a three.
Elliott expertly demonstrated his passing range, individual ball progression and tactical awareness in both out-letting and pressing scenarios. Yet, with so many players still to return from international duty, was this perhaps the manager filling in spaces and experimenting?
The answer to that, is a big NO. Klopp values Elliott a great amount and already seems to have plenty of faith in the young Englishman. Having featured in all 3 of our opening Premier League fixtures, starting the previous two, there is a clear path for Elliott to cement his place in an already star-studded midfield.
However, it takes more than just delivering good performances in pre-season to maintain your place in the Liverpool starting XI. Elliott has lived up to the hype surrounding him this year, from being considered for a loan at the start of the new season, he has delivered two scintillating performances at home to Burnley and Chelsea.
Whilst a little raw and making a few careless mistakes, the unpredictability, confidence and influence Elliott has had on both of these games is nothing short of sensational, especially considering they are his first two starts in the Premier League.
We, as a fanbase, must remain level-headed about Elliott. Yes, he excites, yes, his potential is immense, but he remains an 18-year-old footballer still finding his way in England's top division.
There will no doubt be moments of frustration alongside the moments of genius he produces and already it seems his expectations have been raised. Thus, I am sure over the current season and beyond, Liverpool FC will have another academy hero influencing matches on the biggest of footballing stages.
Whatever is to come from Harvey Elliott, let us sit back and enjoy this incredible talent performing at the highest of levels.