Liverpool ace just matched Philippe Coutinho as elite club points to exciting future

Harvey Elliott celebrates with some Liverpool teammates including Mohamed Salah just after the opening goal against Aston Villa.

It has been mentioned a number of times since Jürgen Klopp said that his biggest Liverpool regret this season was not playing Harvey Elliott more often and this won't be the last time it gets brought up.

Against Aston Villa, Elliott — like Cody Gakpo and Jarell Quansah — maintained his place in the side on merit. The performances that each of the trio put in were worthy of starting again next week when Wolves come to Anfield, even if no one was truly exceptional at Villa Park in a strange game that was difficult to properly analyze or take too much from.

Quietly, Elliott has had another excellent season. Still younger than Martin Ødegaard was when he signed for Arsenal and actually three months younger than Quansah, the signs are there that Elliott can kick on again. While he has been around for a while now, the 21-year-old is still very much with his best years ahead of him.

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The next step for Elliott, as he bids to make himself a regular in the starting XI (the Aston Villa game was only the 10th Premier League match this season that he has started), is to add more goals and assists to his name. He has the skillset to become an Ødegaard-like figure for Liverpool but that would chiefly involve a dramatic increase in his goal contributions.

For his age, though, the level is already pretty good. It is rare for a Liverpool player to reach five league assists in a season that they begin aged 20 or younger, but Elliott has reached that milestone. Trent Alexander-Arnold has beaten that tally (twice) but the only other Reds men ahead of Elliott are Michael Owen, Raheem Sterling, Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman.

Also on five assists was Philippe Coutinho, albeit the Brazilian managed it in slightly fewer minutes, and that is decent company to be in. And, of course, all of those players were regular starters for Liverpool when they achieved equal or better numbers, whereas Elliott has mainly been used from the bench.

As is the case with Darwin Núñez, you cannot assume that just because in theory a player's peak years are still ahead of them, things will at some point click and ramp up another gear. But with Elliott, the signs are there that this is a player ready to take the next step. Four years younger than the Uruguayan, he is already considerably more consistent.

Assists are not the only metric that a creative playmaker should be measured by, of course. But compared to other attacking midfielders and wingers in Europe's top five leagues, FBref has Elliott in the 97th percentile for progressive passes and the 90th for pass completion. Compared to other midfielders, he is in the 96th percentile for shot-creating actions.

Mohamed Salah, just from the eye test, looks better when Elliott is playing behind him and there is a real creative hub to be further unlocked in the former Fulham man. Lacking the electric speed required to play out wide and be most effective there, his future has to lie in the center of midfield. The early numbers suggest he could be on an exciting trajectory.