Data over the start of the season tells us that Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott has immense potential. It’s not exactly a secret but Liverpool have something special here.
Harvey Elliott only played the equivalent of 2.8 90s before his terrible injury against Leeds United. We don’t know yet how he’ll bounce back from that but fingers crossed he can pick up where he left off.
Because where Elliott left off was pretty extraordinary. We’ve looked over Statsbomb data on FBref to see exactly where the 18-year-old ranks at Liverpool. With the added context of a teenager playing his first Premier League season, we think the Reds have something incredible here.
The data suggests Harvey Elliott is a player of unreal potential.
We’re only going to consider players who have played at least 90 minutes of Premier League football when ranking Elliott here. When you take that into consideration, his actions in the final third look very impressive.
Take passing the ball into the penalty area, for instance. Elliott did that on average of 1.79 times per 90 minutes – the fourth-best at Liverpool.
But he carries it there just as well at 0.79 times per 90. Only Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita top that. Only Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino average more than his six touches per game in the penalty area, too.
So how does that all translate for Liverpool? Having Elliott do all of that only means something if it leads to chance.
Well, ‘shot creating actions’ gives us an idea. Those are actions with the ball that lead to a chance within two actions. For example, a dribble that you shoot from would count or a pass to someone else who shoots. Or, more importantly, it includes a pass to someone who then assists a chance. Or a shot that rebounds to someone else… you get the idea.
Elliott averages 5.4 SCA per 90. That’s the third-best at Liverpool, with only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago beating that. In other words, two of the world’s most creative players.
Jurgen Klopp surprised many this season by using Elliott as a centre-midfielder. The teenager is known as a winger but Liverpool clearly saw him differently.
Data shows us why, however, as Elliott is fantastic at moving the ball into the final third. He’s fourth at Liverpool for passing there, behind Thiago, Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson. The teenager does it 6.4 times per 90.
But you can bump that to second for dribbling into the final third. 3.5 times per game is a fantastic rate and only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tops him.
Then there are ‘progressive’ stats. Progressive passing, for instance, is when you complete a pass that moves the team forward at least 10 yards further than they have been in the last six passes.
It’s an interesting way of seeing how well a player can really influence the attack. Elliott makes over nine of these passes per 90 and again, the only players topping that are Alexander-Arnold and Thiago.
Progressive carries are when you move the ball forward at least five yards. Again, Elliott stands out as he’s second for this with 8.9 times per game. Only Thiago beats that (which is firmly a pattern now).
Elliott also shines at simply keeping the ball and Liverpool can rely on him to maintain possession. Only one non-centre-back is dispossessed less often than the 18-year-old and it’s James Milner.
Plenty of teenagers can influence the game going forward, even if not quite at Elliott’s rate. But what really makes him stand out is how he offers plenty to Liverpool’s defence.
He is an absolute relentless presser, for instance. Elliott averaged 24.3 presses per 90 before his injury – only Keita beats that (24.5). The teenager is also bizarrely active in the defensive third as no one can beat his six presses per game.
We’re also surprised by how good Elliott is at recovering loose balls. He doesn’t just press but he knows how to sweep up after others press, doing it 10 times per 90.
Only four players top that and they’re all far, far more experienced than Elliott. Thiago, Fabinho, Henderson and Milner. Not exactly teenagers.
Data says Harvey Elliott has huge potential
Elliott sits near the top of several key stats at Liverpool. Yes, it’s a small sample size but we’ll counter that by pointing out how one of his 2.8 90s came against the European champions.
But our point here isn’t that Elliott is already world-class. It’s that Elliott is showing world-class traits as an 18-year-old playing the highest level of football he’s ever played. He’s someone who belies his years and should only get better.
Liverpool threw him into the deep end and Elliott swam better than nearly anyone as if he’d been doing it for years. This is supposed to be the worst, rawest version of Elliott we ever see and he’s already incredible.