We finally have the confirmation we’ve all been looking for that Harvey Elliott is the real deal. The 17-year-old winger has earned praise from his manager, teammates, pundits, and opponents for his contributions to Championship side Blackburn all year, but today we finally have the testimony of the one man we’ve all been waiting to hear from: Stewart Downing.
The contemptible winger is not remembered fondly in the red half of Merseyside, but he has been playing alongside the talented Elliott at Blackburn this year, and to say he is impressed by the youngster would be an understatement.
“From what I’ve seen up to now, he’s going to be in the Premier League for sure,” Downing told Goal.com.
“I know [Bournemouth manager] Jonathan Woodgate well, and he’s quite close to [Liverpool sporting director] Michael Edwards. He asked me about Harvey when he came to Blackburn, and I was like ‘fucking hell, he’s brilliant!’”
According to Downing, it’s not just Elliot's technical and physical talents that make him a threat, as his mental and tactical understanding of the game and decision-making are rare for someone his age.
“It’s his game-understanding, when to pass the ball, when to dribble, when to come inside, when to stay wide. For someone so young, it’s top-drawer,” raved Downing.
It won’t be an easy road for the English teenager to make an impact at Liverpool though. Impressing in the Championship is great, but playing for Liverpool is an entirely different beast. However, Woodgate believes Liverpool have faith that Elliott is up to the task if Downing is to be believed.
“Woody told me they have high hopes for him at Liverpool, and I can see why. But he knows better than anyone that he has a big job on his hands to get into the team. It’s one thing doing it at Blackburn, but we are talking about a team that wants to win Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues.”
The biggest obstacle for Elliott might simply be getting the opportunity to impress in a Liverpool kit due to the attacking talent ahead of him on the team sheet, but Downing thinks if he can get that opportunity he could make the most of it.
“But things can happen. If [Mohamed] Salah leaves or gets injured, then he may get a chance, and then it’s up to him to take it. He’s got the quality, and playing with better players will bring the best out of him. And Klopp obviously likes him, so he has a chance.”
So there you have it, Stewart Downing believes in Harvey Elliott. Is the opinion of a player who flamed out at Liverpool and infuriated the majority of the fanbase in the process one you were really excited to hear? Probably not. But, Downing has been playing football professionally for a long time, and hearing him gush over Elliott’s ability to read the game is probably worth something.