Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has likened teenage midfielder Harvey Elliott to Barcelona and Spain legend Andres Iniesta.
The 19-year-old England U21 international featured 11 times for Liverpool last season as Jurgen Klopp put his faith in the youngster, but a freak ankle injury at Elland Road kept him sidelined for several months and threatened to derail his career.
He ultimately returned after only five months following successful surgery and appeared sporadically towards the latter stages of last season, while he has featured prominently this pre-season, starting in two of the club’s three summer friendlies.
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There is an expectation that the elegant midfield operator can push on next season and cement a more consistent starting berth in Klopp’s first team, a notion echoed by his right-hand man, Lijnders, who believes the teenage talent carries similar ball-playing hallmarks to Iniesta.
In an excerpt from his new book, ‘Intensity: Inside Liverpool FC’, published in The Mirror, Lijnders wrote: “There is no such thing as like for like in football, but Harvey Elliott has some of the ingredients of Andres Iniesta and thinks like a creative midfielder.”
Lijnders’ adulation wasn’t reserved for just Elliott, with the Dutch coach also lavishing particular praise on Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has gone on to establish himself as one of the game’s best right-backs under Klopp at Anfield.
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“I’m also blessed to have worked with some of the continent’s top talents, including our very own Trent Alexander-Arnold,” Lijnders added. “Trent is the epitome of a successful training and coaching process with a young talent.
“I could not be any prouder of the man and the player he has become – from my captain at Under-16 level to one of the world’s best players, with every possible major club medal won by the age of 23. Even at the age of 15, he was this natural technical talent.”