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Liverpool’s ‘insulting’ transfer bid will leave forward being booed by supporters who adored him

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Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho have enjoyed contrasting fortunes since trading Fulham for Liverpool

Harvey Elliott will be well-aware that he is unlikely to get a warm reception when Liverpool host Fulham on Sunday.

The England Under-21s midfielder was the Premier League’s youngest ever player when he joined the Reds from the Cottagers as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2019, having made just three appearances for Fulham before his boyhood side swooped. The transfer ultimately damaged relations between the two clubs further, having already been fractured by Liverpool’s failed efforts to sign Clint Dempsey in 2012.

Fulham were entitled to training compensation for the teenager, but the Reds’ initial offer of £850k plus add-ons was deemed ‘insulting’ by the Cottagers. The Londoners had instead wanted £10m for Elliott, with a further £10m in add-ons.

Unable to agree on a compensation amount, the case went to tribunal with relations strained once again as a result. The Professional Football Compensation Committee ordered Liverpool, in February 2021, to pay an initial £1.2m along with £300k for Elliott, having signed his first professional contract in July 2020, with another £200k due when he pens a second professional contract. This was activated in July 2021, five months after the tribunal.

Further payments are based on cumulative first-team appearances and senior international appearances. The maximum Fulham can receive is £4.3m, which would be triggered by Elliott making 100 first-team appearances for the Reds while also earning an England debut.

Senior international recognition currently eludes the 20-year-old, but he boasts 84 appearances for Liverpool. The Cottagers will also receive 20% of the fee from any future sale of the midfielder.

Fulham were confirmed to be pleased with the fee, which was a record for a 16-year-old, even though it was considerably less than their demands. Yet then Cottagers boss Scott Parker publicly hit out at the figure, calling it madness.

“I was disappointed in it all because this is a player that had been developed at this club for a long, long time,” he said. “We gave him his debut. You don’t want to go and spend £20-30m on players. That’s why the Academy is so important for us.

“We want to develop these players. But we have developed that player for a big club to take him. Four million quid for a player we developed and thought the world of, to then leave like he did, is madness really. Elliott has the potential to be a top-class football player, but Liverpool have taken him off us for minimal numbers for what he’s capable of.”

Relations have since soothed between the Reds and Fulham, aided by the £12m sale of Harry Wilson in July 2021. However, it later emerged that the Wales international was technically at Craven Cottage on loan, with the permanent transfer delayed until 2022 in order to get around Championship FFP regulations.

Liverpool then decided to send Neco Williams on loan to Fulham in January 2022, with loans and pathway director David Woodfine and then-sporting director Julian Ward investing a lot personally to get the deal over the line on transfer deadline day. With the switch sanctioned to maximise the defender’s playing time at an appropriate club in a World Cup year, the deal was a straight loan as the Cottagers only covered the Wales international’s wages, and he would play a key role in helping them win promotion back to the Premier League.

But while relations between the Reds and Fulham are in a much healthier state these days than they were when Liverpool first signed Elliott, it is a different story when it comes to Cottagers supporters’ own feelings towards the midfielder.

“Harvey Elliott, you’re a w****r!” and “You’re just a s**t Harry Wilson!” were the two chants aimed in his direction from travelling fans at Anfield back in May, as he came on as a late substitute in the Reds’ 1-0 win. Whether he starts or is a substitute against Fulham on Sunday, he perhaps won’t be surprised if he is inflicted to similar treatment.

But Elliott has a clear future with the Reds. Yet it’s a different story for the last player Liverpool signed from Fulham. 18 months after trading Craven Cottage for Anfield, Fabio Carvalho is arguably already at a career crossroads.

The Portuguese also joined the Reds at the end of his contract, in the summer of 2022, but his switch was far more amicable. Negotiations with Fulham initially took place at the same time as Williams’ loan move the other way was being finalised.

However, the two clubs ran out of time to complete the move before the transfer window closed despite agreeing a deal, and Liverpool being happy to loan the forward back to Fulham for the remainder of the season to continue his progress under Marco Silva.

With both parties keen to avoid a repeat of the Elliott saga and another tribunal, the Reds negotiated a £5m compensation fee with Fulham for the out-of-contract 19-year-old, with the deal also including add-ons that could bump the final cost up by a further £2.7m along with a 20% sell-on clause.

Carvalho – with permission from Fulham – had already visited Liverpool’s AXA Training Centre in Kirkby, where he met with Reds boss Klopp and the coaching staff, underwent a medical and agreed personal terms on a five-year contract prior to confirmation of the deal in May. Meanwhile, the player had not wanted the transfer made public until the end of the season out of respect for his Fulham team-mates as they successfully chased promotion back to the Premier League as champions.

Consequently, when making his Premier League debut for Liverpool against his former club at Craven Cottage, he avoided the jeers that Elliott was subjected to. While the manner of his team-mate’s exit when still only a fledgling had not been forgotten by supporters, neither had what the Portuguese achieved at the club in comparison, returning 10 goals and eight assists from 36 appearances in 2021/22 to fire them to promotion and the Championship title, before looking to move on.

Yet with Fulham now an established Premier League outfit as they travel to Anfield, Carvalho must wonder if he was hasty to move on when he did. After all, the last 18 months of his career have not gone to plan as he found his game-time increasingly limited and his progress stalled.

He made 16 appearances before the mid-season World Cup in Qatar last season, starting just six times and only totalling 520 minutes of senior action. Yet he’d play just five times following the return of club football, and featured for only 75 minutes in 2023 (66 of them coming in a mid-January FA Cup third round replay win over Wolves).

There was speculation regarding his future as a result, as RB Leipzig looked to sign him permanently. The Bundesliga outfit would have a bid believed to be in the region of around £10m rejected, before settling on a season-long loan move instead.

With it agreed the player was in need of more senior action, they fought off competition to seal Carvalho’s signature. At the time of his loan exit, The ECHO understood that Liverpool were unwilling to entertain the idea of letting him leave on a permanent basis just 12 months into his career on Merseyside.

Meanwhile, club sources were adamant that the forward’s best years remain at Anfield, with there a confidence that Leipzig would offer the best environment for him to start to fulfil the potential that made him one of the most coveted young players in Europe at the turn of 2022.

But having joined RB Leipzig at the end of June, the move is yet to work out for either player or both clubs. Now five months into his time in Germany, he is featuring even less in the Bundesliga than he managed at Anfield during the first half of last season, with his flailing fortunes making him almost easy to overlook and forget.

The 21-year-old has featured for just 257 minutes across 12 appearances for his temporary club, starting just once in the Bundesliga and making two late substitute appearances in the Champions League. Meanwhile, a second round DFB-Pokal exit to VfL Wolfsburg last month has limited his opportunities further, while he was again named as a substitute for the club’s clash with FC Heidenheim on Saturday.

While it previously would not have been a surprise to see Leipzig try to persuade Liverpool into selling Carvalho permanently next year, should he have impressed in Germany, so far the evidence must leave their fans wondering why they were so keen to sign the forward in the first place. Meanwhile, those of a Reds persuasion must be questioning whether his best years really remain at Anfield after all.

In truth, he has not been helped by intense competition for places and the fact that the Bundesliga outfit, much like the Reds, don’t play with a number 10 – which remains his favoured position. Instead, his snippets of action have come on the flanks, with him failing to provide any goal contributions as a result.

However, an opening will potentially present itself to Carvalho in the New Year after the German winter break at least, with it reported that Emil Forsberg is set to complete a January transfer to Leipzig sister-club New York Red Bulls. And Leipzig manager Marco Rose has urged him to ‘excel’ in training in order to win a place in his side.

“He’s a good boy, a good footballer. You can see his qualities,” Rose said of Carvalho recently. “He has real goals in front of him in his position.

“He’s close, but he has to stick with it. Then he’ll definitely get opportunities again and again, to show yourself. He is broadening our squad and has been getting more playing time in the last few games. He has to use this and excel in training too.”

Heed Rose’s advice and Carvalho gives himself a chance. Force his way into the RB Leipzig starting XI in the second half of the season and he can start to prove that Liverpool’s faith in his talents is justified. If not, having already not initially expected to be on the move again just 12 months into his Reds career, he is at risk of being deemed surplus to requirements.

Ahead of facing his former club on Sunday, Elliott continues to demonstrate exactly why Liverpool signed him and he wished to leave Fulham behind to make such a step up. The inevitable jeers from the travelling fans are a consequence of his subsequent success.

In contrast, Carvalho is conspicuous by his absence, instead struggling to show in Germany what exactly the Reds saw in him in the first place.

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