Harvey Elliott underlined his determination to fulfil the faith shown in him at Liverpool after signing a new long-term contract with the club.
Two years on from his arrival at Anfield, the 18-year-old forward penned an extended Reds deal at the AXA Training Centre on Friday.
Elliott further evidenced his burgeoning talent during a loan spell with Blackburn Rovers last season that involved 41 games, seven goals and 11 assists in the Championship.
Now back at Liverpool ahead of 2021-22, he is ready to give everything in his pursuit of more opportunities under Jürgen Klopp during the upcoming campaign.
We sat down with Elliott to discuss his targets in the short and long term at Anfield, the lessons he learned at Blackburn, the challenge of breaking into the Reds XI and more…
Congratulations on signing a new LFC contract – this must be the perfect way to start the season for you?
Definitely, the best possible way. Just before pre-season as well. It’s always a nice feeling when you sign a new contract – especially for your boyhood club. It’s all done and dusted now so I’ve just got to focus on pre-season, get my work in and make sure I’m ready for the season.
This is the third time you’ve signed since you joined the club; do you still get those butterflies being that it’s your club? Does that never change?
No, it’s always going to be there throughout the years I’m here. Hopefully it’s going to be a long time. There’s always going to be those butterflies whenever you put on the shirt, whenever you go out to train and play, whenever you’re involved in the club there’s always that feeling. Especially for me, being a Red, as well as my family – it’s nice to make them proud and make myself proud. But the hard work carries on.
This deal comes almost exactly a year after you signed your first professional contract. Does it feel like another nice and big show of faith in you from the staff and the club?
Definitely. Ever since I first walked through the door they have showed it. They show it with every single player; they always have faith in you, they’re always giving you 100 per cent on the training pitch and off the training pitch, always wanting you to be the best possible person and player. I feel like there’s a lot of faith in me. But it’s just down to me to go and show it and prove them right.
It feels like it has gone quite quickly, the two years since you first came here. How do you reflect on it and has it lived up to your expectations that you had in 2019?
I couldn’t describe it, to be honest. It has been a whole lot better – and a lot more. I can’t describe how pleased and happy I am to be here, to experience what I’ve experienced so far in my career, and to be around this team and this bunch of lads. And being in and around Liverpool; it’s a great city full of great people. It’s a thing I’m going to look back on in the years to come and think to myself it was a great moment to be around this place. Hopefully many more years to come.
What are the short-term targets now, then? The obvious one would seem to be that you want to push for a place in the first team and chances this season?
Definitely, yes. I think that’s got to be everyone’s aim: to get in the team. To get in and around it at least. It’s not going to come easily; there’s a great bunch of boys here and great talent. But it’s down to me to work hard. I believe in myself that I can do it. I just want to be around the team, support everyone and be there if needed.
You’re back here now after a really productive loan season with Blackburn. It was an interesting decision for you whether to stay at Liverpool or take that jump. How do you look back on that?
It’s a decision that you’ve got to make for yourself, really. I think it was the right decision to go away and get game time and play competitive football. Looking back on it, I think it was personally the right decision. But it’s all in the last season now, I’ve got to focus on this season and focus on getting in this team. But the experiences I witnessed and went through last year are definitely going to help me this year.
Your numbers were pretty impressive: 41 games, seven goals and 11 assists in the Championship. How pleased were you with those tallies?
You can always do better, you can always get more. I missed chances and I missed passes to get more stats to my name. But it’s part of football. Now, this year I’ve got the chance to go and do it again. It was a good season last season but my focus is just on this season, really.
As a learning experience, what were the positives and negatives you learned about yourself as a player at Blackburn?
One thing that is very important is the recovery between each game: knowing what to eat, how to eat, how to recover. Obviously the time period between each game is going to come thick and fast and you need to get yourself into the best possible position and get your body right. The negatives were obviously the negatives, I’m not really looking back on them, I’m just taking it into my stride and if I’m coming back into these situations again [I’ll] know how to improve or hurdle over those negatives. It’s part of football; you have positives and you have negatives, it’s just how you deal with it and how you come back.
Liverpool fans were keeping a careful eye on how you were getting on. How nice is it to know they’re so invested in you already?
The love ever since the first day has been enormous. I’ve received so many messages. I’m thankful for everything they have given to me. Their support to us boys is like having a 12th man on the pitch, to be honest, and we’ve missed them a lot. This year will be nice to have them back, nice to have them in the stadiums, and hopefully we can prove them right this year and go and do it again. They are unbelievable, the fans are truly one of us; they keep us going and keep us positive. We just want to do everything for them, we want to win for them. [We’ll] give it 100 per cent.
You were in touch with the staff and coaches regularly as well. Were you trying as much as possible to keep on eye on how Liverpool were playing, studying how the team was developing while you weren’t here?
Oh yeah, that’s where the fan comes into it. After every game I played when they were playing, I was looking at the scores – even at half-time when I shouldn’t have been I was looking at the scores. The fan will always be in me, wherever I go in my future; hopefully it’ll be here but I’ll always be looking what the scores are and keeping in touch with everyone here. This is my club, it’s my dream to play here so I’m obviously going to put whatever I can into it to get the best out of it. That’s what I’m going to keep doing.
You must be eager to see everyone in person now after quite a while?
Yeah, I came back last season for a little bit, I saw all the boys before I left to go on summer. But yeah, I can’t wait to get started and can’t wait to see everyone. Hopefully we can smash it this season.
This is going to be your first taste of a full pre-season with Liverpool, are you looking forward to that?
Yeah, it’s going to be a long trip but it’s going to be a good trip. I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to getting out there, showing what I can do – show everyone what I can do. I’m just really excited to put on the shirt again and to give it 100 per cent.
It’s mostly about fitness but you’ll want to make your mark on Jürgen and the staff again and give that reminder of what you’re about?
Definitely. You need to be, fitness-wise, up to scratch and you need to get those miles in to obviously get the best outcome and, at the same time, let the talent do the talk as well. It’s just focusing on this season, taking it step by step, taking it in my stride – whatever happens is going to happen this season. I just need to take it in my stride, keep working hard and keep giving it 100 per cent. Then hopefully I get the chance.
Is Curtis Jones a good example and a good role model for you heading into this season? He has had a similar path and he became a fixture of the first-team set-up for most of last season…
I can’t speak highly enough of Curtis, he’s a top boy as well as a top player. He’s a prime example, as well as Trent, in how the path is there, it’s just down to you whether to take it or not. You look at Curt in games – he’s a game-changer, in my opinion. He’s only going to go from strength to strength. I’ve been speaking closely with him and working with him because he’s the same sort of age bracket. We get on really well. He’s a legend to be around.
You touched on it earlier that you’re a confident and ambitious player. That challenge to get into the team is obviously a big one at Liverpool, but do you see that as motivation rather than being daunted?
It’s always motivating to get into the team, really. It’s a nice feeling when you see the starting line-up and you’re in it, or if you’re on the bench. It’s just down to me to go and prove to everyone that it’s up to me and go and show it. I’m here, I need to work for my place – it’s not going to be given to me – and I’ll do whatever it takes.
It’s an exciting season to look forward to, isn’t it? A clean slate, players coming back from injury…
It’s going to be a great season, hopefully we can [build] on what we did a couple of seasons ago. I’m sure the boys are ready for it. Last year didn’t really go to plan; they all tried their best to do what they can. But this season for sure they’re going to come back stronger and better, and show Liverpool what we can do, and show the whole world and the nation what we can do.