Big interviewHarvey Elliott on importance of Milan test, Dubai initiations and a reunion with Divock Origi

Published 16th December 2022
By James Carroll in Dubai

Harvey Elliott has outlined why Liverpool view today's Dubai Super Cup tie with AC Milan as a 'massive game' as they continue to gear up for the restart of the domestic season.

The Reds face the Italian side – and, potentially, a certain Divock Origi – at Al-Maktoum Stadium in their final friendly before taking on Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on December 22.

From there, Jürgen Klopp's men are right back into the thick of the action. Having had no competitive game since November 12, they will have played five times in three different competitions by January 7.

  • Watch Liverpool v AC Milan in the Dubai Super Cup live on LFCTV GO (Excluding MENA). Subscribe to LFCTV GO now and get a month free using the code GOFREE23

It's for that reason Elliott sees the Milan test as crucial in Liverpool readying themselves for what's ahead in the coming weeks.

The 19-year-old – who has figured in all 22 of the team's fixtures this season – sat down with Liverpoolfc.com for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview at the team hotel in Dubai to reflect on the work done in the United Arab Emirates, look ahead to the restart and chat about the reunion with Origi.

Read on to see what he had to say…

Harvey, can we just start on your fitness. You came off against Lyon but have trained since. Was it just a precaution?

People who know me, it's one of them – I don't ever want to come off in a football match. It's the game I love and a game I want to play for the rest of my life. But sometimes you just need to have that mature head on and think [about] the bigger picture. That's what I was doing, that's obviously what the coaching staff were doing as well. I had a little knock on my surgery and it was frightening, to be honest, because it was the first time I ever had a kind of knock like that where I didn't feel OK. But yeah, it was just a precaution. Luckily I'm all well and good and have been back training in the last couple of days now and preparing for the game.

Injury aside, how good was it to get some minutes in your legs again after a short break?

It's always very good to put the Liverpool shirt back on. To go out and play, it's always a nice feeling. To do it somewhere else in the world, to see the support, there's no better place to do it than to be wearing a Liverpool shirt. I'm looking forward to the next game and hopefully it'll end up a lot better than the last one. 

The camp in Dubai is almost coming to an end – how beneficial have you found the work you've done out here in preparing to go again when we get back?

It's been very tough. We always knew it was a camp that wasn't going to be easy with a lot of things – the weather, the intensity of training, the things that we need to be working on to make that extra step in the season. There were a lot of things coming into this camp that we wanted to work on and we had video meetings about it to make sure that we all knew what we were doing each and every game, each and every training session. We always knew it was going to happen – that's why we had to prepare ourselves throughout the rest break, if you can call it that. As I said, it's always nice to be back in and around the lads again, and hopefully kick on for the rest of the season and stamp our foot down and turn things around massively. 

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Have you had a chance to reflect on your first half of the season? Twenty-two appearances is the most you've made in a single season – and three goals, too…

Not really, to be honest. It's just been about what I could've done better throughout the season. Me and my dad always go through things after each and every game, we always re-watch it and look back on what things I could've done better. For me, it was just a moment of reflection in terms of how I could have influenced the game more or what I could've done in different situations. But on top of that, I'm happy. To be able to play 22 games, to contribute a few goals, it's always nice to do it for your boyhood club. There's no better place to do it than at Liverpool.

For me, there's positive sides as well – but at the same time I need to think about what I need to improve on for the rest of the season. There's a lot of things I need to do. This is just the start of myself [going] to that extra level. It's just down to me to make these adjustments in my game, to focus on working on the things that I need to improve on. As I said, that's what me and my dad have been doing since the start of the season – we've been watching things back, learning. Hopefully I can take it into the remainder of the season and apply it.

Do you feel that you've taken a step forward in your career this season?

Yeah, definitely. I think the start of last season compared to this season, there was a big change. Obviously I had my injury last season but when I came back it was a bit up and down, in my opinion, in my performances, in training. I wasn't really feeling 100 per cent. But this season I feel like I'm back to my normal self, back to how I was last season at the start – just free to go and play football, to enjoy it and just to go and express myself, show the world what I can do and who I am. I'm just very thankful for the opportunities obviously given to me. There's many more to come hopefully and it's just down to me to take each and every one, to perform to the best of my ability and show the team, show the world, show the fans that I'm able to be in the team at such a young age. 

What's your aim for the second part of the season? That's a good basis to build on…

Definitely. But at the same time, it's going to be tough. Competition is still going to be there, we have a lot of players. It's nice for the injured players to come back – we've got a fair few players back now. It's just more competition, which is going to keep everyone on their toes and only healthy for the team, thinking in the back of your mind, 'I need to perform each and every game and every training session.' No-one really slacks. For me, it's going to be a big second half of the season. For the remainder of the season, we're going to need each and every person. There's so many games coming up and every person is going to get their opportunity. We just need to make sure that we're a team and if we're called upon make sure that we go out and perform to the best of our ability and just perform for the badge. 

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Inside Dubai: Behind the scenes of Lyon clash

There was a team day out on Wednesday. The usual initiations took place with some of the young lads who have joined us here in the form of some belly dancing. What was your verdict on some of the performances?

Some of them were good, some of them were bad – luckily it's no-one's job, to be honest! It's just that team bonding. Having the young lads come up and to be able to come away on camp with us is always very nice. We always want to embed them into the team because, as I said, we're going to need each and every person. To have them out here learning the Liverpool way, training with us and stuff like that and then doing the so-called initiation song, which is probably the worst thing on earth... but it was belly dancing, so it was something different – we didn't have to hear people's voices, which is probably good for them and us! But it's just what you have to do in football. It's nice. The team has a laugh and it brings the group together because it's a talking point for the rest of the camp or the next few days. That's exactly what it's going to be. For the young lads, I hope they weren't too embarrassed. As I said, some of them were good, some of them weren't really the best.

Rather than who wasn't the best, who did you feel was good? 

That's a tough question. Mel did very well. But from my angle, I think Jarell was quite good. He's quite tall and I think he had the movement in the hips and stuff. It's a bit of a hard question, to be honest! It's just one of those where you don't really know where to look. It was funny; at the same time it was a bit weird seeing people doing belly dancing. It's going to be a talking point, that's for sure. It was an enjoyable night to say the least. So to experience something different, to go in the desert, it's something you're not going to experience every day in England or maybe in your life. So just to be able to say you've done it, it's always nice. 

You made a little friend as well, Tesla the falcon…

Tesla, what a guy. Just a little falcon. I felt like there was a connection there between him and I. Hopefully I can revisit him one day. Maybe I could get one in England one day, which is highly doubtful. As I said, to have these moments, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some people and even though I was scared out of my body holding it in case it turned around and bit my head, just to be able to say I've held one and got so close to it, it was lovely and hopefully I can revisit Tesla one day. 

What kind of things have you been doing in your downtime at the hotel?

Making sure we do the basics right, firstly – which is obviously eating, recovering, making sure we get the treatment that we need. Obviously I had the knock as well, so I've just been making sure that I was in the best possible position going into the next training session. That's the main part of it – just making sure that we're feeling 100 per cent each and every day. As I said, recovery is vital, especially in countries like this where it's really, really hot and you're going to be working, not harder, but physically it feels harder because of the heat. So you have to adapt and you need to make sure that you do these things. Even when you're back in England, it's just the basics as I said.

I've had time off, I've been chilling with Kostas a bit – probably everyone knows we went on holiday together and shared time together during the off-period. To be in and around him again, it's always nice. I've been able to see my family a bit that have been out here for a few days just to explore Dubai, to see the culture, visit different things. It's nice to get out of the hotel. It's a beautiful country with beautiful people and the culture behind it is amazing. It's a really nice place to do it. I don't really know if you can see the views now but if you look behind us, it's amazing as well. To be able to be out here and to do stuff like this, it's a dream come true, to be honest. It's just an amazing experience that you may never get again.

It's just a little different to the interview room at the AXA Training Centre... 

Just a little bit! I feel like you've got the kind of scenery with all the buildings and the nice weather as well. There's no place like home at the AXA.

Another game coming up on Friday against AC Milan. A chance to step up the levels and get some more game time in the legs…

For us, it's a massive game. I think it's the last game before City, so the players are going to need to get the most out of it. And maybe for the coaching staff, I don't know, try things or stick to the basics and make sure we apply it to the best of our ability. It's an opportunity for players to go out and get more minutes, which every person wants to do. It's just enjoyable getting to play against another world-class team in AC Milan, who have won so much, and it's going to be a tough opponent for us again. Hopefully it can put us on a good path for City and a good building point for the next week or so for the City game. 

Dubai Super Cup: The lowdown on AC Milan
14th December 2022

Preview Dubai Super Cup: The lowdown on AC MilanLiverpool play their second match in the Dubai Super Cup against AC Milan on Friday afternoon.

We'll also come up against a familiar face – Divock Origi. How much are you looking forward to seeing him?

I can't wait. What a guy. I've spoken to him a few times since he's left. I'm just happy for him, just like everyone else at Liverpool. To be able to see him, it'll be good. It'll always be nice to revisit him in the future. Friday's going to be a good opportunity to do that. He's a wonderful guy and everyone here at Liverpool loves every single bit of him. He's one of a kind to say the least. And what a player as well. We're all just very happy for him. He's a great player and we just want the very best for him. So to be able to see him again, it's always going to be good.

You were a Liverpool fan before you became a Liverpool player. Divock must have given you some incredible moments?

I'm sure you've heard many stories about him, and it's just always a guy that no matter how you're feeling, he's always going to put a smile on your face. He's a legend of the game and a legend at Liverpool Football Club. He's won us so many games and scored so many vital goals. For us, we're always going to look back and help him, to be honest. As I said, he's a great guy and a great player. He was a big help in settling in. He was always there for me and always very open to speaking to me if I ever needed anything, and still is now. The last thing he said to me was, 'If you need anything, here's my number, give me a call.' To have that support around me from players like him, it's always nice to know that you have people there that you can go and speak to if you need anything. To be able to see him again on Friday, I'm looking forward to it. 

  • Watch Liverpool v AC Milan in the Dubai Super Cup live on LFCTV GO (Excluding MENA). Subscribe to LFCTV GO now and get a month free using the code GOFREE23
Published 16th December 2022