Liverpool midfielder Harvey Elliott may have suffered a serious injury over the weekend, but the 18-year-old has shown enough potential in the opening weeks of the season to suggest a big future lies ahead of him.
The technically gifted talent suffered a dislocated ankle in his side’s 3-0 victory over Leeds United at Elland Road after making his fourth consecutive start in the Premier League for Jurgen Klopp’s charges.
Following the final whistle, Klopp outlined his support for Elliott, saying: “We’ll play without him, but we will wait for him as well because he is a top player,” illustrating the faith that the German manager has in his young star.
And it’s easy to understand why the Fulham academy graduate is held in such high esteem by the Anfield hierarchy.
After rising to prominence by becoming the Premier League’s youngest-ever player at 16 years and 30 days, coming on as an 88th-minute substitute for the Cottagers against Wolves back in 2019, Elliott has gone from strength to strength.
Speaking after that debut, Scott Parker said: “He is a technically gifted football player. A special talent. He has got a naturalness about him, an ease. He is very clean with the ball, can handle the ball very well for someone so young.”
He completed his transfer to Liverpool soon after and made eight senior appearances for the 19-time English champions throughout 2019/20, adding to his top-flight experience.
A season-long loan move to Championship side Blackburn Rovers followed, and it was at Ewood Park where Elliott truly turned from a teenage prodigy to a potential wonderkid.
His impressive displays for Blackburn carried over into pre-season when he returned to Liverpool, convincing Klopp that he had what it took to be part of his first-team squad for the current campaign, despite his tender years.
“We have a new midfielder in our squad in Harvey Elliott,” the former Borussia Dortmund boss announced (as relayed by James Pearce). “We have players who can make a big step. We are not blind. We see what others are doing. We just have to be able to beat them. We will try to do that.
“Harvey can play different positions. In pre-season, we wanted to see him in a deeper role. He’s made a big step in the pre-season. If he stays fit, then the football world can be really excited about that. I really liked his performance and attitude in pre-season.”
Unfortunately for Elliott and Liverpool, though, he couldn’t stay fit for very long. Nevertheless, the show of faith that Klopp has placed in him indicates that he could be on a similar path to that of Mario Gotze, another diminutive, versatile, technically gifted midfielder who excelled as a youngster under Klopp’s tutelage.
Gotze played the best football of his career under his compatriot at the Signal Iduna Park, winning two Bundesliga titles and a DFB-Pokal under the 54-year-old.
Possessing dazzling ability, the German scored 31 times and registered 45 assists under the now Liverpool chief.
Although Klopp has also given extensive game time to the likes of Curtis Jones and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the early stages of their careers, it’s Elliott who bears the most resemblance to his last attack-minded teenage star, and he’ll be hoping to follow in the World Cup-winner’s footsteps.
If he starts producing numbers like Gotze did in the embryonic stages of his career, he will certainly go down with Liverpool supporters.