Liverpool already have a replacement for Xherdan Shaqiri, who looks set the leave the club. The timing makes things difficult, however.
Either way, it looks likely that Shaqiri will depart Anfield soon. It wouldn’t come as any surprise, of course, as rarely features and hasn’t been a regular for any extended period.
You’ve got to imagine that Shaqiri himself will push for a move. He’s 28 now and won’t want to spend the final years of his prime on the bench.
And so, if Liverpool can make a profit on the £13m they bought him for, then it would be smart to do so. But as irregular as his appearances are, the Reds would still need to replace him. They already have that player, fortunately.
Harvey Elliott can fill that void. The bit-part role of a tricky right-winger who plays with flair? It seems tailor-made for the teenager. He can move in and out of the squad, playing without major pressure but picking up experience.
The only issue is that it probably comes a year too soon.
Elliott turned 17 today. He’s still a very, very young player and there is absolutely no rush. Ideally, you’d want him to have another year getting used to things at U23 level, without any senior expectations. Elliott has only been at the club for one year, after all, and so he’s behind the likes of Curtis Jones in suitability.
So one more year, then, when he’s 18, he can step up. Unfortunately, there would be a hole in the squad just slightly too early.
We’ve written before how a target like Ferran Torres risks blocking Elliott. Signing anyone is tough as you don’t want to block a player as talented as the Englishman.
But promote Elliott himself and you need to be careful not to hurt his development. You don’t want to burn him out or hurt his confidence by promoting him too soon.
That’s the difficult balance. One year later and this would be a simpler process with a more ready Elliott. But with Shaqiri heading for the door, the Reds need to make a decision on his replacement now.