Harvey Elliott is here to stay: Liverpool's 'diamond' is the future as well as the present for Jurgen Klopp

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The 19-year-old starlet is taking his chance to shine in Jurgen Klopp's injury-hit midfield.

It was the finish of an extremely confident young man. First time, cleanly struck and perfectly placed. No chance for the goalkeeper.

The celebration which followed was an emotional one, Harvey Elliott sliding on his knees and covering his face as his team-mates converged. In the stands, the Liverpool star’s father, Scott, tossed his jacket skywards in delight. 

Elliott lost his grandmother earlier in the week, and would later dedicate his first Premier League goal, the second in the 9-0 win over Bournemouth, to her memory.

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It won’t be the last he scores in a red shirt, you can be sure of that.

Amid all the talk of new midfielders at Anfield - and it has been the hot topic for weeks now - the form of the 19-year-old provides a welcome distraction for Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool may well decide to change tack and delve into the transfer market before the window closes on Thursday, but they’ll do well to find a player with more to offer, or with greater potential, than Elliott.

“A proper player,” Klopp calls him. Pep Lijnders, his assistant, refers to him as “our diamond” and uses Andres Iniesta as a comparison. “What I like most about him as he is pure joy,” Lijnders told GOAL recently. “I love the way he plays, and he is just 19 as well…wow!”

Just like last year, Elliott has had a positive start to the season. While Liverpool’s other midfielders are either injured or searching for top form, the youngster, who signed a new five-year contract earlier this month, has again sought to seize his opportunity. 

So far, so good. Having made an impact off the bench at Fulham, his former club, on the opening weekend of the campaign, Elliott has started each of the Reds’ last three games, with Klopp choosing instead to rotate his senior options - Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and James Milner.

That tells you how highly regarded the teenager is. Klopp and his staff have been blown away by his development over the past 12 months, and know that he is a player for the here and now as well as the future. Privately, some at Anfield believe he has an outside chance of making England’s World Cup squad.

Lijnders remembers overhearing a conversation between Vitor Matos, Liverpool’s elite development coach, and Conall Murtagh, the first-team fitness coach, at the AXA Training Centre a year ago. “If you ever write a book,” Matos said, “make sure you write that you were witness to the development of an unbelievable player.” They love him at Kirkby.

Elliott had returned that summer a different player, having spent the previous season on loan at Blackburn in the Championship. Lijnders remembers watching him “bounce” Sadio Mane in training and realising that, both physically and mentally, he had gone up a level after regular first-team exposure.

He was in Liverpool’s team at the start of last season before suffering a serious injury after a challenge from Leeds’ Pascal Struijk in September. The pictures were horrific, a fracture dislocation of the left ankle, but he would be back training, ahead of schedule, by the end of January and scored on his return to first-team action in the FA Cup against Cardiff at Anfield a few days later.

Harvey Elliott Liverpool 2021-22

“That’s Harvey, very mature and very strong mentally,” says Lijnders, who tells a story from pre-season to illustrate his point.

“He played 30 minutes in the Community Shield [against Manchester City] on the Saturday,” he says. “He was really good and really important. And then on Sunday, the very next day, he played 90 against Strasbourg. 

“After 60 minutes, I called him over to the sideline and I asked him how he was feeling. He just said ‘Pep, I could play all night!’ and ran off.

“These are the guys we want, the guys who will win you games. Last year Harvey was really unlucky with injury, but he came back strong and this pre-season he’s been even stronger.”

It has been interesting, to say the least, to see Elliott’s development tactically at Liverpool. He arrived as a wide player, a dribbler and a creator from the right flank, but it is apparent that Klopp sees his future in the centre.

“You are a player for the middle,” he told the youngster at the start of last season. He wants him involved in the game constantly, receiving the ball and playing forwards, connecting the play and linking, especially, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah down Liverpool’s right.

The potential of that trio is clear, and exciting, but Klopp is equally thrilled with Elliott’s physical development, and the way he understands the need not only to play and create in Liverpool’s midfield, but to press, to sacrifice, to compete and to run.

Only Roberto Firmino covered more distance in the defeat to Manchester United recently, and Elliott was on target for another 11.5km game against Bournemouth before he was substituted at half-time as a precautionary measure, having felt a minor niggle during the first 45 minutes.

Post-match scans suggest there is no issue. Elliott trained at Kirkby on Monday and will hope to retain his place for the visit of Newcastle on Wednesday. After that comes the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.

Liverpool have been boosted this week by the return of injured players, with Joel Matip and Curtis Jones both back in training, along with summer signing Calvin Ramsay. Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota, Naby Keita and Ibrahima Konate are all getting closer too, meaning Klopp’s squad should soon have a more recognisable look to it.

Elliott, though, needn’t worry about the competition. He has already shown that he is more than capable of holding down a position in this team, whoever his challengers are and whichever players arrive in the future. 

Make no mistake, Liverpool’s diamond is going to shine for years to come.