Leanne Prescott explains why Harvey Elliott is likely to break the mould of highly rated young signings that haven’t made it at Liverpool…
THERE is something special about watching a young player’s development.
They are not shy, just utterly focused on playing their own game and making no apology for it. Confident, expressive and able to play with freedom.
That is Harvey Elliott to a tee. A player who continues to impress in the Championship having made the season-long loan move to Blackburn Rovers.
At the time of his departure, there was some understandable trepidation about whether it was the right move for his development, but six months on any such fears have been emphatically alleviated.
The Championship is a hugely competitive, physical league and at the age of just 17, few would find it easy. Elliott, though, has made it look just that, performing as one of the division’s standout players this season.
Indeed, it has been an ideal move to a side full of attacking promise and fluidity under a manager with a reputation for nurturing young talent in Tony Mowbray, emerging as Blackburn’s key source of creativity.
His vision, weight of pass and spatial awareness is outstanding, constantly scanning his surroundings and timing his distribution perfectly, releasing the ball and threading eye-of-the-needle passes for his teammates to thrive off.
He knows exactly when to drive forward on his own; when to take on his man; when to find a teammate, play a one-two or go for goal himself. For a player so young to have such a distinct level of maturity within his decision making is rare.
Appearing in 33 of Rovers’ league games – 26 of which were starts – he has managed 15 goal contributions (five goals and 10 assists), the latter of which is beaten only by Norwich’s Emi Buendia.
No teenager across England’s top four tiers has managed more league goals and assists combined than Harvey Elliott. He doesn’t even turn 18 until April 4.
He has taken the huge leap from Under-23s football to Championship in his stride, rising to the challenge and taking to the league like a duck to water.
A unique, fearless talent with that something special.
Having featured on the left and right side of the front three as well as a number eight, the season has seen the diminutive winger develop into a much more well-rounded player, and his versatility could be invaluable next season if The Reds revamp their attacking options.
Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri seem destined to move on this summer and given the significant strides Harvey Elliott has made over the course of the campaign, it would leave the door open for him to break through into the first-team picture just as Curtis Jones has done this term.
While history may suggest a recurring trend of highly rated young signings subsequently failing to make the grade, with Rhian Brewster and Ki-Jana Hoever struggling to break into the first team, all signs point to Elliott bucking the trend.
Optimism and excitement must, of course, be met with patience, given the amount of pressure and expectation heaped on young players shoulders in the modern era, but there are no doubts he has the talent required.
Very few players go out on loan and impress at such a young age, and yet, in a league as physically demanding as the Championship, that is precisely what Harvey Elliott continues to do.
A creative force and precocious talent, he’s staking a real claim for a role at Anfield next season.
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“Because of the arrogance and the little bit of a chip on his shoulder, I wanna see him play in front of a crowd….I want to see him run a football match!”— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) March 18, 2021
– @AdamCatterall on Harvey Elliott
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