While there is still a clamour for Liverpool to replace Gini Wijnaldum in the transfer market, Jurgen Klopp has told fans to get excited about Harvey Elliott.
The term ‘like a new signing’ is wheeled out almost every summer, with those returning from injury or loan, or stepping up from the academy, feted as genuine additions to the squad.
Often, these don’t pan out as hoped, but there is genuine excitement around Elliott’s performances for the Reds in pre-season, on the back of a standout loan spell with Blackburn.
The 18-year-old is one of the most promising young talents in Europe, and he has shown glimpses of his potential in a new midfield role for Liverpool over their warmup schedule.
This could translate to a starting spot against Norwich on August 14, having joined the ‘first choice’ lineup in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Club on Sunday evening.
Speaking after that game, Klopp told reporters that Elliott is considered a “new midfielder” for the Reds heading into 2021/22.
“We have new signings, we brought three players we couldn’t use last year for most of the season, we have them back in the team,” he said.
“We have obviously a new midfielder in our squad with Harvey Elliott. We have players who can make a big step to fulfil their potential, they are in a good way. That’s how it is.”
Asked further about Elliott’s ability to play in the middle of the park, Klopp stressed that the teenager “can play different positions,” having struck the bar cutting in from his position on the right wing in the second half.
“How you saw then a little bit later when he went up front, Mo went in the centre and Harvey played then the right wing. He smashed the ball on the crossbar in that moment,” the manager added.
“He can play different positions, there’s absolutely no doubt about it.
“But in the pre-season we wanted to see him just in a deeper role because for a young player you have to learn a lot of things when you are a bit more outside and you get the ball from time to time.
“We wanted to have him more involved. And I think he made a big step in this pre-season.
“If Harvey stays fit then the football world can be really excited about that.
“I liked his performance today, I liked his performance and attitude during the pre-season. So, good for us, good for him.”
As it shapes up, Liverpool look set to line up with a midfield of Fabinho, Naby Keita and one of Elliott or James Milner against Norwich, and Klopp’s selection would be a big indication of his faith in the No. 67.
Caution should be taken with Elliott’s progress, of course, but he looks to be a rare talent who is capable of stepping up another level this season.
If that is the case – and combined with Curtis Jones‘ continued development – the desire to strengthen in the wake of Wijnaldum’s move to PSG should be satisfied without Liverpool having to break the bank even further.