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Jamie Carragher’s seven-word verdict proves Jurgen Klopp has found Liverpool’s ace card



The Liverpool midfielder caught the eye in the Merseyside derby victory over Everton.

For all of the upheaval that Liverpool experienced during the summer transfer window, they have made a highly encouraging opening to the 2023-24 season.

Twelve games have been played in all competitions so far. The Reds’ record boasts nine victories, two draws, and a solitary 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur that was awash with VAR controversy – with Jurgen Klopp’s side finishing the game with nine men and only conceding at the very death.

Indeed, Liverpool appears rejuvenated despite six senior players departing and four arriving. It still might be the formative stage of the campaign, but Klopp may already have a good idea of what his best XI is when everyone is fit. Perhaps the only berth still not abundantly clear who is the first choice is the number-six role, with Alexis Mac Allister deployed there so far. That then adds debate to who’s best functioning in the left-hand number-eight position between the Argentine, Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch.

Dominik Szobosbzlai has firmly nailed down the position on the right. The £60 million signing from RB Leipzig has made a scintillating impact. And on the right-hand side of the attack, Mo Salah’s numbers are showing no signs of relenting. He’s already recorded eight goals and four assists in 11 games.

That’s why it leaves Harvey Elliott in a difficult position. The remits taken by Szoboszlai and Salah respectively are his best two roles. That’s chiefly confined the diminutive 20-year-old to substitute outings in 2023-24. Of his 10 appearances so far, four have been from the outset – but only one in the Premier League. That arrived in the 2-2 draw at Brighton where he was withdrawn at half-time.

Starts this season may be hard to come by for Elliott in the top flight. In truth, he may be tagged with the moniker of ‘super sub’ which is somewhat of a backhanded compliment in football. However, in this Liverpool team, it should be somewhat of a badge of honor. Given the potency of the Reds’ front line, if they are unable to break down teams then a specialist player to add the desired je ne sais quoi from the bench is a highly coveted asset.

When Elliott was introduced in last Saturday’s Merseyside derby, along with Darwin Nunez, it was the fillip that Liverpool were desperate for. The Reds were lacking any sort of ingenuity to break down a 10-man Everton side that had switched to a low block consisting of five defenders after the dismissal of Ashley Young eight minutes before the interval. That changed after the England under-21 captain was introduced in the 62nd minute.

Elliott’s prowess in picking up the ball in tight spaces and using his nimble control helped open up the resolute Blues rearguard. It was no coincidence that Liverpool found the opening 13 minutes after his introduction, with Elliott’s display earning plaudits from Klop icon Jamie Carragher. The Sky Sports pundit wrote on Twitter: “Nunez & Elliott brilliant from the bench!” Elliott completed each of his 31 passes and lost possession just once.

In the long term, the former Fulham man will be eyeing a regular starting role at his boyhood club. Still only 20, he’s still several years off entering his peak years. In this campaign, he may prove to be Liverpool’s ace card.

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