Harvey Elliott earned Jurgen Klopp’s trust after a particularly successful loan spell with Blackburn Rovers, when he scored 18 goals in 43 appearances (all competitions) while primarily playing on the right wing
Stuart Downing referred to the teenager’s experience in the Championship as an indication of where he should be playing, highlighting the starlet’s alleged lack of defensive awareness.
“I played with Harvey Elliott at Blackburn, and he played more off the right, but he’s obviously going to find that difficult with Mo Salah in the way,” the ex-Red told the BBC’s Football Daily podcast (via Rousing the Kop).
“He’s found that spot in the center, but is he as disciplined as [Jordan] Henderson and Fabinho? He’s probably not looking to push forward, and I believe they’ll target that area and play off the back of him.
“Elliott is not a defensive player, and he gained a lot of space. He’s not a natural midfielder; I believe he plays off the right, but getting Salah out of the way will be difficult.”
That said, Mo Salah poses a significant threat on the right flank, and it’s telling that the Egyptian has yet to miss a single league game for Jurgen Klopp this season.
Of course, there is a significant lack of depth compared to the left flank and the center of the forward line, which begs the question of what we have planned to ensure, first, that there is the possibility of continuity beyond our No.11, and second, that we have alternatives in play to give our 22-goal hitman a break as and when it is required.
We believe it is unfair to accuse Elliott of lacking defensive nous, given that he showed enough of it against archrivals Manchester United previous to the setback at the Vitality Stadium.
Playing with another adolescent away from home may have exacerbated matters, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Klopp reverts to two veteran midfielders augmented by one talent to keep things balanced.
The former QPR prodigy in the midfield may still have a future, however at 19 years old, we shouldn’t be surprised to see that there’s still a lot to learn in order to be a consistently trustworthy operator in the German midfield.