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Harvey Elliott still has one Liverpool question left to answer after Jurgen Klopp regret

Harvey Elliott could be forgiven for feeling a little disappointed heading into the summer, despite a strong end to the season for Liverpool.

During Jurgen Klopp’s final weeks as Reds manager, he had usurped £60m summer signing Dominik Szoboszlai to cement his place as first-choice in the German’s starting XI. Having entered the campaign where there were question marks over his end-product in front of goal, he finished 2024 with 10 assists in all competitions. Only Kevin De Bruyne (16) registered more for Premier League clubs in the calendar year, while his overall return of 11 was bettered only by Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez (both 13) at Anfield.

The 21-year-old recorded a goal and four assists from his final five starts of the campaign as he finished the season as one of the Premier League’s most in-form players. With Klopp admitting his regret that he hadn't previously started Elliott more, it was not an ideal time for the flying midfielder’s year to end.

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End-of-season ratings:

Alisson Becker

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Ibrahima Konate

Luis Diaz

Darwin Nunez

"It's not like I go back and think, 'where did we go wrong here and there?' but if I regret one thing a little bit it's that Harvey didn't play often enough maybe," Klopp rued earlier this month. "In a very important and intense period in January when we had a lot of injuries, he played really good, probably our best player whether it was right wing or right midfield, all these kind of things.

"(Then) everybody came back and he had a few minutes here and there and didn't start anymore and then came on and made a big impact. It's really nice that he could show that."

Elliott’s end-of-season form was so impressive, he even found himself in the conversation when it came to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2024. Yet while Curtis Jones and Jarell Quansah would celebrate maiden call-ups, the playmaker was left disappointed.

But that will only fuel him further going into the new season. And with a new manager in the dugout, and one who will oversee his peak years, the boyhood Red will be hungry to make an impact from day one in pre-season under Arne Slot.

Available for every single Liverpool match in 2023/24, Elliott made 53 appearances but only 27 from the start, with only 11 of them coming in the Premier League. He had to wait until an away trip to Brighton in October for the first, but was withdrawn at half-time after a muted display despite a sublime dummy for Mohamed Salah’s opener.

Instead, his opportunities came in the Europa League and League Cup. But while he established himself as a lively substitute, the same impact was lacking from the start. The fact that his most telling contributions during the first half of the campaign were a last-minute assist for Luis Diaz in a 1-1 draw at Luton Town and stoppage-time winner away at Crystal Palace, both off the bench, would reiterate such a point.

But in 2024, Elliott grew in stature. The most experienced of Liverpool’s youth, he rose to the occasion when needed as the Reds suffered injury after injury. Scoring after starting the 4-1 win over Luton in February, he would follow it by completing the 120 minutes against Chelsea in the club’s triumphant League Cup final.

A hat-trick of assists followed against Sparta Prague the following month, while he was denied a winner in the FA Cup quarter-final exit to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Then came the final weeks of the campaign, as the 21-year-old forced his way into Klopp’s starting XI, with a spectacular goal of the season contender in front of the Kop against Tottenham proving to be a particular highlight.

As the season progressed, Elliott proved he was more than just an impact substitute and he will surely play a big role under Slot. Yet, his best position still remains the subject of debate. Signed as a right-winger, he remains an alternative to Mohamed Salah but has been re-invented in midfield.

Competition is intense in the Reds’ engine-room after last summer’s £150m midfield revamp, while the Egyptian is the first name on a Liverpool team-sheet. Yet despite that, Elliott finished the campaign as one of their most in-form players.

In a year where so many Reds academy stars shone, it is easy to forget that the midfielder is younger than Jarell Quansah and just a few months older than Conor Bradley. But while they enjoyed breakthrough campaigns, he’s now been part of this first team since 2019, despite his tender years.

If he continues to progress in such a manner under Slot, it will no longer be a case of shoehorning Elliott into the side as an alternative. Rather, the Dutchman will be left building a team around one of Liverpool’s most promising gems.

End-of-season rating: 7