Editor’s Column: Harvey Elliott is an animal

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In an 18 day period, Harvey Elliott has played 90 minutes against Luton, Sparta Prague and Manchester City, 76 minutes against Southampton and Nottingham Forest and 120 minutes in the Carabao Cup Final.

He’s barely put a foot wrong in this intense, immense run of games for the Reds and has helped hold us together in the absence of various midfielders and attackers, as his position has changed not only from game to game, but during them as well.

Elliott has played over 100 matches for Liverpool, but he’s younger than Conor Bradley, Jarrell Quansah; and only slightly older than James McConnell and Bobby Clark. He made his Premier League debut back in 2018/19, when nobody had heard of Covid-19 and Theresa May was Prime Minister.

He has a wealth of footballing experience and running in his legs and he’s still not allowed to drink alcohol in America.

The sight of Elliott collapsing on the turf after most of our matches this past month has become common. He runs himself into the ground for Jurgen Klopp, his team-mates and the club he supports. You can never prove a player works harder if they truly love a club, but the manner in which Elliott sweats blood for Liverpool suggests they might.

Klopp uses Elliott wherever he needs him. He either plays on the right-wing, but as an inverted playmaker; someone who cuts in from the wing and looks to play passes and one-twos, or on the right of the midfield three; where he finds pockets of space and drives with the ball.

Interestingly, regardless of his starting spot, he usually fills the same areas of the pitch, somewhere halfway between the wing and midfield on the right-side.

Part of the reason he’s been difficult to define and often misunderstood is that he doesn’t have an obvious position. He floats. He’s versatile and he changes tact depending on the ebb and flow of the game. For a 20-year-old, Elliott has sublime football intelligence and this is part of the reason why Klopp has used him from the bench on 18 occasions in the Premier League this term. Elliott can read a game and insert himself into the areas which are free and from which Liverpool can profit.

Is he perfect? Of course not. His shooting isn’t good enough yet and he can make bad decisions in the final third. He also lacks any pace whatsoever which is a huge factor in modern football. He doesn’t get nudged off the ball much anymore, however. Defensively, he’s improving all the time.

It’s great to see how flair players like Elliott and Jones have adapted under Klopp. Both understand the lengths they’ll have to go to if they want minutes. And from basically scratch, they’ve learned defensive positioning, tackling and how to scrap.

Elliott is a fighter. He’s an animal, with talent to boot. He reminds me of a younger Phil Foden when nobody really knew where to play him, but it was obvious there was a proper player in there. Now, many (incorrectly) label Foden as the best player in the country, and when Elliott is 23 or 24, he could be in similar conversations.

He still doesn’t get in Liverpool’s best starting XI when everyone is fit. That’s probably Wataru Endo, Alexis Mac Allister and Dom Szoboszlai, but Jones and Elliott are seriously knocking on the door to take the spot of Szoboszlai (who himself is utterly brilliant).

Elliott may have started more games in other seasons, but it appears this is the year in which he’s truly proven his value to the team.

Playmaker, warrior, prodigal talent and marathon runner for the quadruple chasers.


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