March 3, 2024
harvey

harvey

Split Opinion: Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott has played in midfield and attack, but his ideal position remains unknown. Two of our authors weigh in

Harvey Elliott
Harvey Elliott

Liverpool have yet to get the balance of their midfield right for more than a few minutes in a game this season, and having gone for Cody Gakpo rather than a player to bolster the center of the pitch, they may have to wait a bit longer.

Thiago Alcântara, Fabinho, and Jordan Henderson, last season’s midfield trio, have not regularly played together and have not done well as a group for some time, with Harvey Elliott emerging as another possibility.

With Naby Keta out injured until recently, Elliott has been given huge minutes, with a debate brewing this week over whether or not he is capable of playing that role off the ball.

Naby Keita
Naby Keita

Jürgen Klopp could consider bringing in a Gini Wijnaldum-type midfielder, according to Jamie Carragher, as Elliott’s defensive abilities have been questioned in some areas.

Should Elliott be a number eight in the long run? Two of our Liverpool.com writers have weighed in, and you can, too, in the comments section at the foot of the article.

When it comes to transfers, Liverpool appear to have adopted a ‘if they’re good, we’ll find a way to fit them in’ mentality recently. Perhaps it is a little unjust, but Elliott appears to fall into that group for the time being.

Diogo Jota (who can play anywhere on the front line without having a first-choice, best position) and Fábio Carvalho (who appears to be a number 10 but is requested to play as either a winger or an eight) are two others. Cody Gakpo could be another (once everyone is healthy).

It’s a transfer strategy that assures Liverpool has top-tier talent coming through, so I get why they did it, but it may just take a little more forethought.

Diogo Jota's
Diogo Jota’s

Elliott would look extremely different if he had a peak-performing Fabinho behind him instead of a faltering Jordan Henderson versus Leicester.

That’s not to say Elliott can’t develop off the ball, despite his exceptional talent. There is an argument that he is not providing enough in the attacking third to justify the occasional lapse (similar to Trent Alexander-Arnold, perhaps), but that will come, and in the meantime, his off-the-ball work can improve.

I’m not persuaded Elliott has the speed to play wide, but he has the ability and potential to be a long-term Liverpool player. Unless you give him a free role (which is unlikely), he’ll remain unemployed.

“Opportunities may be limited once Klopp secures a marquee signing.” Adam Brown’s

Elliott has shown glimpses of the value he can provide from midfield, but with intentions to bring in a big player there, he may find his opportunities limited there next season.

Elliott and Carvalho
Elliott and Carvalho

Liverpool also lacks a suitable cover option for Mohamed Salah. The Reds are unlikely to recruit another right winger after signing Gakpo, and while Diogo Jota and Luis Daz could be used on the opposite flank, neither has the natural left-foot skill that Elliott possesses.

Given that Elliott is only 19 years old, he has the potential to develop into a versatile player — but the positions he plays should always be in attack to allow him to continue developing that aspect of his game.

He has recently earned U21 caps for England, playing 70 minutes on the right wing against Germany in September, and he will only improve as he improves his lethal touch in front of goal with more minutes on the front line.

There’s no point in confining him to midfield when more attacking roles would suit his style better.

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