A few hours before Reading’s first league win of the season, on Tuesday night against Cheltenham Town, the Royals brought in their ninth signing of the summer: Ben Elliott. He’s a seriously highly rated 20-year-old central midfielder, and Reading did well to bring him in from Chelsea and tie him down to a three-year contract.
To get some deeper insight on him, we spoke to The Chelsea Spot, who cover The Blues at first-team and academy level, and reported that Reading were close to signing Elliott on August 14. You can find them on Twitter @TheChelseaSpot and their website right here.
How would you sum up his time at Chelsea?
Everyone interested in the academy knows about Ben Elliott, but no one else really does. He’s one of those players. Ben started training with Chelsea at the age of six in the development centre, and signed at the age of eight in a very special age group featuring the likes of Levi Colwill, Matthew Cox, Tino Livramento, Myles Peart-Harris, Lewis Bate, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and more. Jamal Musiala too.
He was one of the most rated players in the country in his early age groups, as he starred and captained multiple England sides. There’s that clip going around of a former academy teammate saying he was the closest player in the Chelsea side to Musiala. That’s how good he was, and that’s the sort of talent you have on your hands.
We think you’ll enjoy this. Have a listen. One of our academy players speaking. pic.twitter.com/w3GcBNC2g2— The Chelsea Spot (@TheChelseaSpot) August 14, 2023
He was then hit with some awful injuries which halted his development massively, and it feels like last season was his first year in a while when he played football consistently.
What style of midfielder is he?
Elliott is certainly a midfielder who likes to get forward a lot, and yet can easily play in a deeper role too. He’s grown physically over the past year or two and that’s been a massive bonus to his game.
What are his main strengths and weaknesses?
He’s got some great timing when arriving in the box, is extremely composed around the opposition goal and loves to drive with the ball. He only picked up four goals and one assist last season but honestly it felt like he could’ve had 10-15 goals and assists.
I wouldn’t say he has any weaknesses as such, but it’ll certainly take a bit of time to get used to playing professional football week in week out, and I think for him the best way to improve is to just play.
What’s his character like?
He seems to be a very strong character as he’s gone through some very difficult challenges, both on and off the pitch with things outside of his control. He’s come back fighting each time and what we saw last season only felt like glimpses of what he can do. I think the fans will love him too – I managed to have a quick chat with him after one of the PL2 games and he was incredibly kind and humble.
How well do you think he’ll get on at Reading?
We’ve sent quite a few players to Reading in the last few years, with Baba Rahman, Danny Drinwkater and Cesare Casadei springing to mind. I’ve got no doubt in saying he’s a better player than the first two, and with a potential biased cap on I’d say he’s technically better than Casadei. By the sounds of it, Ruben Selles isn’t afraid to use younger players and I think that will be really good for Ben. If you play him, you’re gonna get a lot of good things.
How far can he go in his career?
It’s difficult to say how far he’ll go in his career but I know for sure there are people in the academy who expect him to be playing top-flight football in a couple years’ time, so I just hope this is the right step for him and everything works out. Cream always rises to the top eventually and his time will come - I’ve got no doubt about that.