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Be Patient With Harvey Elliott, The Youngster Is Arguably Ten Years Away From The Peak Of His Powers

Harvey Elliott was mightily impressive on his return to action last month against Cardiff City in the FA Cup. 

Scoring a delightful goal that booked Liverpool’s place in the fifth round of the FA Cup, the teenager reignited the hype that lifted the spirit of fans in pre-season.

But he has been in and out of the team since - a reminder that Elliot is an asset for the long-term not just the here and now.

Elliot is young, a boy pretty much. And the nurturing of a top-class talent takes time. He has all the tools to be whatever he wants to be - so give him that time. 

Harvey Elliott

Taking centre stage

His impressive loan spell at Blackburn Rovers in the Championship saw him rise to stardom. He joined the second division side in October of 2020.

He scored his debut goal for Blackburn against Coventry City in a thumping 4-0 away win. He went on to make 41 appearances, scoring seven goals and contributing eleven assists.

The then 17-year-old made quite the impression on Jurgen Klopp.

He also impressed his fellow professionals as he was nominated for the EFL Young Player of the Season award.

Although Michael Olise beat him to it, he did end the campaign with one accolade: goal of the season for a stunning strike against Millwall. 

He was already something of a phenomenon on what was essentially a work experience loan. 

Harvey Elliott Liverpool Blackburn

Move to the middle

The teenager returned to Anfield as a more mature footballer eager to mix it with the big boys and play a major role for one of the best in Europe.

And Klopp was willing to play him in the middle - consistently - alongside the likes of Thiago, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, and co. 

The German saw in him versatilely; a fleet-footedness that would add spark and tenacity in a midfield void of the ever-present, but now departed, Gini Wijnaldum.

This was despite the youngster being more accustomed to a wide attacking position. (He was known as a tricky winger when rising through the ranks of Fulham academy). 

But Klopp knew he was ready to be thrown in at the deep end. And Elliott thrived. 

Harvey Elliott

Heavily involved at the start of this campaign, Elliott made a positive impression. 

On his first Premier League start at Anfield, Elliot was Liverpool’s playmaker supreme in a 2-0 win against Burnley. 

He was directly involved in the second goal, effortlessly controlling Virgil Van Dijk’s arching long-range ball, before feeding Trent Alexander-Arnold who then laid it on a plate for Sadio Mane to score.

Harvey Elliott Sadio Mane

Heartbreak

The consistent run of games came to end in mid-September, however. 

Elliot suffered a nasty ankle dislocation in a coming together with Leeds United’s Pascal Struijk.

A freak accident with no malice intent from the defender, Elliott faced a challenging setback. 

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An initial fear was that the teenage sensation would miss the rest of the season.

Harvey Elliott

Getting back up to speed

Thankfully, those fears were soon allayed. 

Fast-forward six months and Elliot is back, having made a swift recovery.

Klopp was keen to highlight the willing attitude of Elliot throughout the recovery trail. 

Speaking in his post-Cardiff press conference, the German described Elliot’s swift comeback as a “fairy tale”. “We were all waiting but the fact we could do it today was so nice,” Klopp continued. “I was in a worse mood than he was after the injury. He was like, "Come on boss, head up. I'll be back!"

Pleading patience

And once again Klopp had the confidence to throw him in at the deep end, starting him at the San Siro in the 2-0 win over Inter last month. 

By making his Champions League debut against the Italian champions, the Englishman became:

  • (1) the youngest Liverpool player to represent the club in Europe at the age of 18 years and 318 days;
  • and (2) the youngest English player to earn a Champions League starting berth, breaking Kieran Gibbs’ previous record of starting for Arsenal in a knockout game aged 19.
Harvey Elliott

Despite the historic achievements, Elliott was not at his best, nor was anyone else for that matter.

Klopp acknowledged Elliot's performance, explaining the premise behind his selection:

"The reason Harvey played was because we knew which spaces we had to play and it's usually naturally his area.

These half-spaces around the midfield three, being very flexible, naturally offensive-minded and all these kind of things. That's why he played.

"He had really good moments but we all know he can play much better.

"When you are 18 years old and play against one of the most experienced teams in world football and they are Italian on top of that, for an offensive player it's not a walk in the park".

It is all too easy to get a little carried away. Elliot is a boy. An 18-year-old. 

Gone under the radar too is his positional transition. Klopp is tailoring the youngster to his methods and style, and this takes time.

Bonafide world-class talents under Klopp - think Fabinho, for example - were not instant successes at Anfield and took time to adapt to the Premier League.

Dips in form will come here and there, but this is all part of the long, arduous, process of development. It could be argued that Elliot is a full decade away from being at the peak of his powers.


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