Harvey Elliott’s Crossroads: Navigating Liverpool’s Future

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Liverpool’s Hidden Gem: What’s Next for the Wonderkid?

The rise of Harvey Elliott amongst Liverpool’s first-team has been quite remarkable, with the 20-year-old becoming a hit amongst the Anfield faithful. Elliott’s talent is undeniable, now proving it for both club and country, quickly becoming a standout performer in England’s youth setup.

Despite his incredibly young age, the midfielder has already racked up 98 appearances for Liverpool as well as 42 senior appearances for Blackburn Rovers on loan. That’s 140 senior appearances at the age of just 20-years-old, which is quite sensational.

However, Elliott’s career is approaching it’s most pivotal moments. The youngster will definitely be wanting to nail down a place in Liverpool’s starting lineup in the near future, and will perhaps look to his fellow academy graduate Curtis Jones for inspiration.

But the question is, how realistic is that sort of opportunity to arise for Elliott?

Photo: IMAGO

Elliott’s Awkward January

With injuries to the likes of Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai, many saw the month of January as the perfect opportunity for Elliott to break into Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven. This looked like it would be the case, with the 20-year-old starting on the right-wing in Liverpool’s first game after Salah’s departure to the African Cup of Nations.

Elliott put in a fairly poor performance in that game and has since severely struggled to break into Liverpool’s front-three since. However, it is important to note that the fantastic form of the likes of Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz certainly hasn’t helped his case.

In the seven games since that Arsenal game at the start of January, Elliott has averaged just 44 minutes per game. Elliott made the starting lineup on just three occasions across those seven games, with the most recent coming in the second leg of the Carabao Cup Semi-Final on the 10th January. More than a month later, the youngster is yet to start a game for Klopp’s side and the return of Wataru Endo has the potential to limit his minutes even more.

With that being said, the 20-year-old could be in line for a starting spot in Liverpool’s away game to Brentford on Saturday. This comes after a fantastic substitute cameo against Burnley, where Elliott would assist the two winning goals for the Reds.

Photo by IMAGO

Tactical Fit

One thing that has seemingly always had a negative impact on Elliott’s progression so far at Liverpool. Many have labelled him as the only natural back-up to Mohamed Salah on the right-wing, but this has never really came to fruition.

In my opinion, Elliott’s most effective role in Klopp’s setup is on the right-hand side of the midfield three. That position in the past has been nailed down by Jordan Henderson, but has since became Dominik Szoboszlai’s favoured position.

Elliott’s footballing ability has never been an issue, with the youngster clearly being an incredibly talented and skilful player. However, he lacks the pace to be an effective winger but also lacks the strength to fit into Klopp’s often tenacious midfield three.

Perhaps Elliott’s best position would be in the number ten role, which he plays to great effect for England’s Under-21s. However, Liverpool’s system doesn’t involve using a number ten and never has under the control of Jurgen Klopp. This leaves Elliott’s progression in a bit of a limbo, which will undoubtedly be frustrating for the youngster.

What Next?

Under Jurgen Klopp’s system, I struggle to see Elliott ever becoming a regular fixture on a weekly basis. Interestingly, the tactical system adopted by Liverpool-linked Xabi Alonso could provide Elliott a completely new way of playing.

Photo: IMAGO

Alonso’s three-at-the-back formation, also includes the use of two narrow tens, which allows the wing-backs to be extremely offensive and control the wide areas. These ten positions have been the reason behind Florian Wirtz’s incredible rise to stardom, particularly since the arrival of Alonso.

The same could certainly happen for Elliott, but for the remainder of this season, I suspect it will be more of the same for the 20-year-old. Either way, the long-term process must be trusted by the club and fans alike, as they have a top player on their hands in Harvey Elliott.

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