Liverpool have a new threat at their disposal this season. It’s one that could be absolute magic.
One of the most surprising elements of pre-season this year has been Harvey Elliott. Not his ability – that’s been obvious for a while – but in how Jurgen Klopp has used him.
Elliott built his reputation as a right-sided player, cutting in and creating chances for teammates. That put him in line to be Mohamed Salah’s cover this season, assuming Liverpool sell Xherdan Shaqiri.
But it appears that’s not quite right. Klopp has put Elliott in the middle in every friendly, using the teenager as a centre-midfielder.
Now, we think that suits both Liverpool and Elliott. It’s an inspired decision and one that also brings about a new triple-threat that could be magic for Liverpool.
Alexander-Arnold, Elliott, Salah
Whoever plays on the right of the midfield three effectively has a dual role. They’re not only a central player but they’ve got to link with the right flank.
That means covering the full-back when he pushes forward, offering a link-up with the winger, and drifting into their space when it’s there.
Elliott can do all of that already and the more experience he gets, the better he’ll become. But he’s also just a natural link with both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah.
We’ve written before on how good he can be with Salah. The Egyptian wants someone who can play one-twos and operate in quick spaces. He also wants to be able to cut inside and have the midfielder replace him out wide.
Elliott, as a tricky wide player himself, can do all of that.
But he should also help immensely with Alexander-Arnold. Elliott is such a tricky player that he draws defenders towards him. His constant movement does the same, making him difficult to mark and forcing attention from defenders.
And with him on that side, let alone with Salah there, Alexander-Arnold should find more space. That’s the beauty of having three creative players all operating on the same side.
Now, this trio won’t be as solid as having Jordan Henderson there in place of Elliott. We imagine we’ll only see the youngster in the role on occasion, rather than with any regularity.
The captain is still a far superior player and Liverpool are better with him in the team. But as far as the future goes? The Alexander-Arnold, Elliott, Salah triple-threat is one to get excited about.