Editor’s Column: Harvey Elliott is one of World’s Best U21s and Liverpool fans should appreciate this more

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There was a beautiful moment at the end of the 4-1 victory over Luton last night, where Harvey Elliott lay on the Anfield turf, completely exhausted from his effort in the thrilling comeback victory.

Fellow youngster Conor Bradley came and hugged him back to life. It’s this kind of spirit and togetherness that will keep this group together once Jurgen Klopp, who taught them the value of the hug, is gone next season.

Elliott finished the game with seven key passes, three big chances created, four tackles won and a goal. This is a 20-year-old who’s standing in for Mo Salah on the right-wing and the fact is: he delivered. No player has made more chances (7) from open play in the Premier League this season. It was 100th appearance for the Reds.

And he still managed to deliver despite being on the receiving end of groans and complaints from an expectant and slightly spoilt Anfield first-half. Elliott was grafting. It wasn’t his fault his beautiful lofted pass to Luis Diaz wasn’t converted early on, or that Cody Gakpo’s overhead-kick from his clever cross went straight at the keeper. Despite the setbacks, he continually wanted the ball, cutting inside and dribbling through the middle at the opposition defence. A few of his passes as the first-half wore on became wayward, but Klopp berated the Main Stand for their disappointment. The boss wanted unwavering support and saw the promising situations as evidence a goal would eventually come. He was right.

In the second-half, the stodgy crowd turned exceptional. It was actually perhaps the best Anfield has been all season. What a turnaround – and the team fed off it. Elliott stayed wider in the second, as Bradley cut inside and played an inverted role. Luton couldn’t handle either of them. The energy and frenetic pressing; as well as the speed in which Liverpool were countering Luton was even more impressive considering there were no senior midfielders or attackers on the bench. Elliott went for 90 minutes and he should be immensely proud of his contribution, which was topped off late on with the curling effort that sealed the win.

Elliott will never play like Salah. Sadly for the Englishman, he doesn’t possess the same physical attributes. He’s not as strong, but more importantly, has no devilish pace, which means he can never make runs in-behind a defensive line or knock it past a defender and get round the other side before him. He has to do it the harder, cleverer way, with jinks and twists and timing.

Liverpool need Elliott to be our Bernardo Silva. A magician with wonderful feet who can play in multiple positions but really just look for pockets of space from which he can create. Off the ball, Elliott is bullish and works hard and this shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s not his natural game to tackle and intercept, but like of all the youngsters featuring in Klopp’s Last Dance, he knows it’s the only way into the team.

Fans need to remember there are only a handful of players under the age of 20 in world football who can legitimately claim to be better than Elliott.

Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala, Gavi, Florian Wirtz. Then Elliott is very much in the next bracket, with Alejandro Garnacho, Evan Ferguson, Mathys Tel and Warren Zaire-Emery. That’s elite company, but because he’s English and has been in and around the team for a good few years, we forget his age and potential.

Whoever the next manager is has a jaw-dropping array of young talent to work with. Elliott, Ryan Gravenberch (21), Conor Bradley (20), Stefan Bajcetic (19), Ben Doak (18), Bobby Clark (19), James McConnell (19), Jarell Quansah (21) are all touted for big things. And then there’s the likes of Trey Nyoni (16) and Jayden Danns (18) following them through. This is before mentioning the array of world-class starters currently doing the business of course…

Liverpool’s big squad has proven completely essential this term. Injuries have been regular and seemingly crucial, but the reality is we’ve largely kept on winning through adversity.

It’s the squad players who can come in at a whim and perform to an almost similar level to the starters who will win us this title.

Elliott is a huge part of that. His ability to come off the bench and contribute and step up when it matters, even at the age of 20, shows he could be one of the best players in the Premier League by the time he’s 24.

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