Elliott’s record-breaking reaches new heights as Liverpool plan becomes clearer

You really can't blame Fulham for putting a positive spin on it.

The south-west Londoners' announcement late on Wednesday night that a fee had finally been agreed with Liverpool for Harvey Elliott, via a tribunal, didn't include the actual fee itself, but did make sure to use terms that fans would nod along to.

"The award (undisclosed) is a record amount for a 16-year-old player," said the club, "and, in the circumstances, Fulham is very pleased and thanks the PFCC (Professional Football Compensation Committee) for its careful consideration of the arguments we put forward."

It appears as though the PFCC's work has led to the two clubs meeting in the middle, with Liverpool paying an initial £1.2million to Fulham for Elliott, who was signed in the summer of 2019 not long after he'd turned 16.

That may look fairly paltry in Premier League terms, but with add-ons involving the teenager's next two professional contracts, completing over 100 Liverpool appearances and picking up a cap for England, that 'record amount' could eventually reach £4.3million.

It says a lot about Elliott's talent that Fulham will be expecting to receive the whole lot.

While still at Craven Cottage, the winger broke records to become both Fulham's youngest ever player and also the youngest to play for anyone in the Premier League, setting the latter bar at 16 years and 30 days when he faced Wolves.

Scott Parker spoke of the desire to nurture Elliott's "special talent" after that match, much in the way they did with the precocious Ryan Sessegnon, but with Fulham already relegated there was quickly a sense of the club and player moving in opposite directions.

When his move to Liverpool came it was still something of a shock though, and one that was accompanied by a sense of regret.

"It is always nice to see an academy graduate complete a big transfer as it suggests the club is doing something right," says Mirror Sport journalist and Fulham fan Jake Polden.

"But there is certainly the feeling the youngster left a little prematurely.

"Like Patrick Roberts before him, the bright lights of a top-four Premier League club were too appealing, and it's understandable he left.

"But even a season longer at Fulham may have aided his development to this point, and may have prevented the need for him to go on loan to Blackburn."

Had he have stayed for that season though, he'd have missed out on a lot of fun.

Elliott managed eight appearances for the Reds' first-team last season, seven of which came before he turned 17 and all eight were before he'd signed his first ever professional contract.

There can't be many young footballers of that age who have been given such exposure to a Premier League winning environment, and although he didn't play much of a part on the pitch, Elliott got to participate in the post-match celebrations after the league, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup were won.

Training with the players responsible for those successes is where his development will have really been aided though, and Elliott knows exactly who to look to on that score.

“As young kids you idolise players, and Salah is a player that I look at and want to be like him," he told Rio Ferdinand for COPA 90 in May.

“I look at everything he does in the gym, training and note it all down. So when I go into training I just try to build my game around him."

And Mo Salah remains a reference point for Elliott, with his feeling for him running deep if the now infamous Sergio Ramos story during his attempting courting by Real Madrid is anything to go by.

Liverpool perhaps had the Egyptian in mind when they agreed – fairly surprisingly, it could be said – to loan him to Blackburn Rovers for this season, with the hope that playing regularly on the right of the attack could mould the teenager into something of a Salah-lite.

"For me, he is mimicking Mohamed Salah and the way that he plays has been fantastic," the former Rovers forward Kevin Gallacher told the Liverpool Echo in November. "He has been a breath of fresh air."

Of course he's not hitting Salah's number of goals yet, with four in 23 appearances this season, but there has been so much more to admire about his game.

"He's proven to be an inspired signing so far," says Lancashire Live's Blackburn writer Jaquob Crooke.

"Orchestrator of Blackburn attacks, he has the ability to alter contests with one perfectly-weighted through ball or by gliding beyond a defender.

"Tony Mowbray's faith in Elliott as the source of Blackburn's goal creation speaks volumes and his effectiveness on transition have enabled Rovers to become a far more dangerous unit in attack – no player has made more progressive dribbles in the Championship per 90 minutes."

As is so often the case at his stage of development it is the physical aspects of the game that will dictate so much of what comes next, with Liverpool hoping that a season in the Championship will do wonders on that score.

"In terms of a 17-year-old forward joining a new club in his first Championship campaign, I've not quite seen anything like it. It's remarkable, really," continues Crooke.

"There was initial worry over whether he would be able to cope with the physical demands but he's dismissed those concerns.

"What's impressed me the most is his fitness. He's featured in every squad so far and has yet to show any severe signs of fatigue or his performances deteriorate."

At his tender age Elliott also has a fair bit of growing up to do, with the 14-day ban for mocking Harry Kane in a video not long after he'd turned 16 perhaps still clouding judgements over him.

Blackburn are allowing him the opportunity to blossom though as a person and a player though.

"It's a shame there are no fans present inside stadiums because I'm sure he would have been subject to a few standing ovations in recent months by the Ewood faithful," says Crooke.

"His willingness to connect with supporters on social media has been superb, with it helping to bridge the gap between fans and their football club. I don't think any Rovers fans want him to go back!"

He will return to Liverpool though, albeit not for this season as some supporters had called for last month during the slump in form. That can wait.

With question marks over almost all of the understudies to Liverpool's famed front three having emerged this season, and indeed questions asked about the front three themselves, then Elliott looks set to return as a key part of Jurgen Klopp's plans.

“We now look forward to welcoming Harvey back from his loan spell with Blackburn Rovers in the summer and helping him continue to build towards a long and successful career at Anfield," said Liverpool in their own statement about the tribunal result.

It is certainly one of their better outcomes of recent times, and could end up being regarded as one of their more remarkable bargains.

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