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The underlying stats that make Harvey Elliott a Premier League gem

Jurgen Klopp has relied heavily upon Harvey Elliott so far this season, and the youngster’s underlying statistics show how valuable he has been in midfield.

Elliott doesn’t celebrate his 20th birthday until April, but only five outfield players have clocked more minutes on the pitch for Liverpool this season.

The teenager is now the sole ever-present for the Reds this campaign, making every matchday squad, with 14 starts and eight substitute appearances so far.

Across the Premier League, only two players aged 20 or under have been involved more often than Elliott, those being Southampton‘s Gavin Bazunu and Armel Bella-Kotchap; only one other teenager, Romeo Lavia, has played 180 or more minutes.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 29, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates with team-mate Harvey Elliott after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But there have been questions over the No. 19’s role in the Liverpool midfield, with his defensive output, in tandem with Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, heavily scrutinised.

Elliott himself has admitted this is an area that he needs to improve – but the virtue in letting him loose comes in his progressive play.

An infographic shared by football data specialist @avisualgame on Twitter highlights Elliott as among the top five percent in the Premier League when it comes to ball progression:

In analytics, ball progression is defined by a metric of Expected Threat (xT), with Soccermatics‘ David Sumpter explaining it as “how an action changes the probability of scoring.”

“If a player makes a pass which moves the ball from a place where it is unlikely for their team to score, to a place where they are more likely to score, then they have increased the xT in favour of their team,” Sumpter writes.

“In general, the nearer you get the ball to the goal the more likely your team is to score (although if you look carefully passes back to the goalkeeper are also valuable).”

Kevin De Bruyne, the gold standard for midfielders, is the only player in the top five percent for ball progression and attacking output.

Elliott’s xT rate is similar to that of Alexander-Arnold, while another infographic from @avisualgame positions him top in terms of buildup involvement when adjusted for possession:

Again using De Bruyne as the yardstick, data from StatsBomb shows that Man City‘s creator-in-chief is the only midfielder with a higher rate of Expected Goals Assisted (xGA) than Elliott:

Statistics via FBref show that only six players – De Bruyne (50), Kieran Trippier (42), Alexander-Arnold (35), Joao Cancelo (31), Mo Salah (29) and Bruno Fernandes (26) – have completed more passes into the penalty area than the young midfielder (25).

These qualities are why Elliott has been identified as a talent worth persevering with, and one who can be trusted as a regular starter in a difficult season for Liverpool.

Just like Darwin Nunez – who is second only to Erling Haaland when it comes to Expected Goals per 90 but is yet to catch up in terms of genuine output – it seems only a matter of time before Elliott explodes into full force.