Now the dust has settled on the 2020/21 season, focus has switched to assembling the perfect squad for the new campaign. In Liverpool’s case, a squad is needed which can compete on several fronts to bring back – hopefully – several pieces of silverware.
The main focus for Jürgen Klopp and Michael Edwards will be to land a new midfielder to replace the outgoing Georginio Wijnaldum, now that a new central defender has been recruited in the shape of Ibrahima Konaté.
After Wijnaldum’s contract expired this summer – after no agreement could be reached over the terms of a new contract – he signed for Paris Saint-Germain. A replacement for the Dutchman is paramount, but there are other areas of the squad which also need adjusting for the season ahead.
Positions such as right-back, centre-back and the forward line all need work in the window, but funds will be limited – as many local journalists have pointed out during this window.
The recent acquisition of Konaté from RB Leipzig seems to have emptied the transfer pot, if rumours are to believed, and now the Reds will likely need to sell before they buy to make changes to problematic areas within the squad.
Some areas, however, may not need much work, with answers already right in front of Klopp within the squad. Simple swaps of personnel within the matchday squad could be a route that Reds coach could explore with some players coming back from successful loans during the previous 12 months.
The best example of this could be selling Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri – who is looking for regular football after a successful Euro 2020 – in favour of young Harvey Elliott, fresh off a highly promising campaign in with Championship with Blackburn Rovers.
But what should Liverpool do with him now?
For Elliott, it’s the common case of young star goes to lower league and shines. His skill and general play impressed Tony Mowbray throughout the season – with the Blackburn manager regularly heaping praise on the 18-year-old.
Despite this, it is widely thought that it is time for him to be playing Premier League football week in, week out, though maybe not for Liverpool just yet. However, if Klopp decided to keep Elliott at Anfield, there are plenty of promising signs that the teenager could play a key role next term.
The winger had a stunning breakout season in the Championship, bagging seven goals and 11 assists in 41 appearances, including several stunning finishes.
His remarkable goal contribution tally actually betters that of Jack Grealish, whose best term in the second division mustered just six goals and seven assists. With statistics like Elliott’s, the record shows he is ready to make the step into the bright lights of the Premier League.
Despite being only just being old enough to buy a pint, there are calls amongst many Liverpool fans to include him in the first team squad next season, with 57pc of the 464 in our fan poll believing that Liverpool should keep Elliott on Merseyside.
The only issue with keeping Elliott around is whether or not it would be the best course of action for his game time and development.
Obviously, regardless of how good Elliott is and has been this campaign, he isn’t going to displace Mohamed Salah in Klopp’s starting line-up. He may however – depending on his priorities – be willing to take the role filled by Shaqiri this season, but that has its own issues.
Elliott would obviously demand more minutes than the Swiss winger and it is likely that he would get them, with everything pointing to him being the future of the football club. Even then, not starting regularly, and even getting on at all during certain games, could really stunt his progress as a young player.
Game time is undoubtedly the most important thing a young player needs to develop, making a bench role unthinkable at this stage of his career, especially off the back of the campaign he has just had.
As much as I and many others would love to see Elliott feature next season, a loan switch to a fellow Premier League side looks likely. A bottom half side would be willing to bring him onboard for 12 months, whilst also giving him the game time that he craves. A switch to a Newcastle, Southampton, Brentford or Brighton would be ideal, whilst testing himself against the some of the biggest and best teams in the world.
Whatever happens, the Reds went through a lot of trouble to acquire him from Fulham and they will do what is best for the wonderkid. Hopefully, we will see him in a Liverpool shirt sooner rather than later making big strides.
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