Former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson has urged Liverpool to “be careful” if they decide to loan out teenage prospect Harvey Elliott next season.
The youngster turned 17 on Saturday and has made seven appearances for the Reds’ first team since his switch from Fulham last year, although the ex-Tottenham ‘keeper feels that the Anfield club could send him on loan for more regular senior experience in 2020/21 – fellow Liverpool talent Rhian Brewster was loaned out to Swansea in January for that reason.
However, speaking to Football Insider, Robinson warned the Merseysiders to think carefully about Elliott’s destination if they go down the loan route. He said: “Elliott is in the same situation as Brewster. He will develop as a player playing with a squad of players the quality that Liverpool have got but he is not going to play 20, 30 games for Liverpool next season. It is a question of where he will develop best because he is already a top-quality player.
“It would be a big ask to go out on loan at 17 but he has shown he is more than capable. They have to be careful. You would have to pick his loan location very cleverly. He would command a Premier League loan like Harry Wilson – that type of situation. Liverpool are not shy of putting their youngsters out on loan.”
Robinson’s pleas to Liverpool regarding a possible loan move for Elliott are understandable. As the likes of Brewster and Wilson have shown, a loan to the right club can enable the Reds’ youngsters to thrive – the English forward has four goals in 11 games so far for Swansea while the Welsh winger has six in 23 Premier League games so far for Bournemouth after scoring 18 times in 49 games for Derby last season.
However, as Robinson has said, Liverpool should think carefully about the club to whom they might send Elliott on loan if they feel that is the best course of action for him. At just 17, he would need to go to a team whose manager demonstrably trusts in young players and who would play to his strengths.
The youngest average age of a starting line-up in the Premier League this season is 24, so the ex-Fulham winger would still be a comparative rookie at any top-flight club. Southampton and Bournemouth are among the teams to have fielded some of the youngest sides in the league this term, and Eddie Howe has given Wilson plenty of game-time at the latter, so those could be preferable destinations for Elliott.
If Liverpool were to send him to a Football League club rather than a top-flight outfit, Barnsley may be worth considering as they have consistently fielded line-ups with an average age of less than 23. However, with the Tykes rooted to the bottom of the Championship and facing relegation, the Merseysiders may be reluctant to send Elliott down two divisions. They could also look at Swansea, where Brewster has played regularly in recent months and whose manager Steve Cooper has fielded young line-ups averaging 23.6 years of age.
Another consideration in a possible loan move for the 17-year-old is finding a team where his strengths could be best utilised. As noted by Sam Leveridge in a scout report on the teenager for Total Football Analysis, he likes to hug the wings and stretch play rather than tucking in-field. He has a flair for taking on defenders, averaging 5.66 dribbles per game, so a manager who would embrace such qualities may be keen on having Elliott at their club.
Brewster and Wilson have shown that the right loan move can work wonders for a player so, as Robinson has said, hopefully Liverpool will send Elliott to a club where he is likely to thrive should they decide to loan him out next season.
Liverpool fans, do you think Elliott should be sent on loan next season? If so, where do you think might be a good destination for him? Join in the discussion by commenting below!