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Klopp must unleash Liverpool’s “special” £46k-p/w star today, he’ll thrive next season – opinion



Klopp must unleash Liverpool’s “special” £46k-p/w star today, he’ll thrive next season – opinion

The precocious midfielder could play a big role at Anfield next term…

One year ago, Liverpool entered the final day of the Premier League season waging fierce battle against Manchester City for the title; this year, the Reds will travel to face Southampton in a bitter dead-rubber contest.

Having plunged into the depths of obscurity this term, Liverpool languish in fifth place in the league standings headed into the culminating weekend, four points behind both Newcastle United and Manchester United and with a place in next year’s Champions League unattainable.

It has been a shocking fall from grace and one which has severed a six-year stint in Europe’s foremost continental competition – a run in which Jurgen Klopp’s Reds reached three finals, winning one.

Solace can be taken, perhaps, in an eight-match unbeaten run in the top flight, with seven successive victories ended by a home draw against Aston Villa last week, the former swagger returning for Klopp’s squad and a pathway back to prominence now discernible next term.

Signings will be made this summer, but Klopp might be wise to unleash prodigious starlet Harvey Elliott against the relegated Saints on Sunday, with the 20-year-old earning a chance to shine and stake his claim for a central role next year.

Should Liverpool unleash Harvey Elliott?

While Liverpool will be expected to dispatch a Southampton team confirmed to finish bottom of the Premier League and without a victory in 12 matches, providing Elliott with a starting berth could inject the creativity needed to ignite Liverpool’s fire.

The former Fulham starlet has been a regular member on the pitch this term, scoring five goals and supplying two assists from 45 matches across all competitions, though he has started just one of the past nine divisional games, an unused substitute in five of those matches.

Described as a “special” talent by Fabrizio Romano, Elliott has completed 83% of his Premier League passes this term and has created seven big chances, likened to David Beckham by European football expert Andy Brassell who he said “was like a flying ant in a forest of sloths”.

As per FBref, the £46k-per-week dynamo ranks among the top 10% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for shot-creating actions, the top 13% for progressive passes, the top 10% for progressive carries and the top 14% for blocks per 90.

It is this transitional creativity that Klopp will likely seek to bolster the ranks this summer, and if Elliott can indeed exhibit the full scope of his skill set on Sunday afternoon, he could cement his name firmly in the Reds’ plans next season, growing into his skin as one of Europe’s most vibrant midfielders.


‘I could be back…’ – Departing Liverpool player isn’t ruling out playing at Anfield again

James Milner may be leaving Liverpool this summer, but that doesn’t strictly mean he’ll never play at Anfield again.


The 37-year-old is departing as a free agent after the expiry of his contract, with a deal reportedly agreed for him to reunite with former Reds teammate Adam Lallana at Brighton (The Guardian).


The veteran midfielder is also chasing down Gareth Barry’s record of 652 Premier League appearances, currently within 34 games of that tally prior to today’s clash away to Southampton.


Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Milner admitted that he’s focused on trying to surpass his ex-Aston Villa colleague and could be back at Anfield over the next few months in opposition colours.


He said in relation to the Premier League appearance record: “People keep mentioning it so it is in my head and obviously it’s not far off and it would be a nice one to get.


“I could be back in front of the Kop potentially (with another Premier League team) – yes, that’s an option. I am fortunate to have a few options. The drive is still there even though I’m content with what I’ve done. I could always do more.”


READ MORE: (Video) Broadcaster unenthused by Liverpool’s Mac Allister pursuit; namechecks preferred signing


READ MORE: ‘What stands out for me…’ – Liverpool urged to sign 21 y/o gem who they’re ‘crying out for’


Having made 30 top-flight appearances already this season (Transfermarkt) – and potentially a 31st today – Milner stands every chance of breaking Barry’s Premier League record if he’s playing with another club in the division next term.


It won’t come as any surprise to Liverpool fans who’ve witnessed his determination and sheer professionalism at Anfield over the past eight years that the midfielder is eyeing up at least one more campaign in the top tier.


It’d be strange seeing him playing in front of the Kop in a colour other than red – you’ve to go all the way back to March 2015 for the last time he played against us in L4, in a 2-1 defeat for Manchester City – but he’d be cast-iron assured of a glowing welcome from the Merseyside supporters if he were to line out at the venue again.


Whether it’s with Brighton or another club, don’t be surprised to see the evergreen Milner taking to the Anfield turf at least once more in his distinguished career.


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