There’s a sturdy case to make that Curtis Jones is probably the most underrated participant at Liverpool, however to shed that tag the midfielder has some other giant step to make.
Such has been his longevity inside the first-team setup at Liverpool, it’s simple to omit that Jones remains to be handiest 21.
An early favorite of Jurgen Klopp‘s after graduating from Steven Gerrard’s tutelage at under-18 degree, the self-assured teen was once first concerned at the run to Kyiv on the tail finish of 2017/18.
He has grown in stature ever since, however there’s nonetheless a way of attainable unfulfilled – an ongoing theme all the way through his 3rd season as a normal within the senior squad.
However there’s a explanation why Klopp has taken so fondly to his No. 17, and there have been transparent indicators all the way through 2021/22 that Jones has a larger position to play within the close to long term.
Curtis Jones, 2020/21
Began: 18 (All competitions)
On as an alternative: 9
Unused sub: 15
General Season Ranking: 6.87
The true Curtis Jones
“Curt is coming of age,” Andy Robertson, who considers himself a mentor to Jones, mentioned remaining summer time.
“I believed remaining season now and then he was once remarkable nevertheless it’s now concerning the consistency, it’s at all times about that and doing that on a week-to-week foundation.”
The left-back added: “I’m hoping this can be a giant season for him…I simply hope that he can to find that consistency, stay that starvation that he’s were given and he’ll handiest get well.”
This can be a acquainted line that if Jones can handiest maintain the prime ranges he has lengthy been in a position to, he could be vying for a first-choice position in Klopp’s beginning lineup.
That may be a sentiment shared by way of the executive, his team-mates and by way of many supporters, too.
It was once a irritating blow, then, as Jones suffered a head harm within the ultimate pleasant of pre-season, hampering his momentum simply as Harvey Elliott took off.
He ignored the 1st recreation of the season as a precaution and was once lost sight of for the following 3 – the remaining of which noticed Elliott sidelined with a horror ankle harm that, in some ways, cleared the path for the academy graduate to return again in.
Within the weeks following Elliott’s layoff, Liverpool started to look the actual Curtis Jones: uber-confident, continuously appearing for the ball, taking avid gamers on and showcasing that herbal aptitude, however with an actual safety in ownership, too.
His first get started of the marketing campaign got here as a No. 6, controlling the midfield within the 3-0 win over Norwich within the League Cup, and 4 days later he scored his first and handiest purpose within the nerve-racking 3-3 draw with Brentford.
4 extra days after that, Jones produced a mesmeric flip as he laid on 4 objectives within the 5-1 rout of Porto, prompting Klopp to exclaim: “Let’s stay going Curtis!”
Given the executive said he had “performed defensively a top-class recreation” on the Estadio do Dragao, it was once most likely no wonder that Jones was once passed a fourth consecutive get started as Guy Town arrived at Anfield.
That 2-2 draw between name opponents ushered within the October world ruin, and started a slew of issues for Jones, with Klopp livid as he felt England under-21s supervisor Lee Carsley’s use of the midfielder irritated a groin harm.
Imaginative and prescient impaired
At the pitch, Jones is an overly sturdy participant, one that seemed in a position to filling the void left by way of Gini Wijnaldum upon his departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
However he discovered himself at the unsuitable facet of fortune on plenty of events all the way through 2021/22.
After a head harm in pre-season and a groin harm all over a standout run within the facet in October, Jones suffered a freak eye harm in a coaching consultation in November.
“You be informed so much about what can occur to human beings if you find yourself a soccer supervisor!” Klopp reacted after his No. 17 were given a finger within the eye ahead of Atletico Madrid’s talk over with to Anfield.
“I’ve by no means had one thing like that. It’s going to be positive, nevertheless it wishes some time.”
That “whilst” ended up being a month-and-a-half, with Jones lacking 12 video games after additionally contracting COVID-19 all over a depressing length.
It unquestionably stymied his growth within the facet, and ended in a “lengthy communicate” wherein Klopp instructed his protege to “make the following steps” and “display how just right he can if truth be told be.”
The absence of Naby Keita for the Africa Cup of Countries, coupled with health woes for Thiago, then introduced a constant run within the facet that noticed Jones get started 9 instances and are available off the bench two times extra over 15 video games.
He was once, for that spell, one in all Liverpool’s maximum constant avid gamers, and Klopp was once extremely joyful with the consequences – however after the 1-0 loss to Inter Milan that noticed Jones shine regardless of the end result, he handiest began 3 extra instances and not in consecutive video games.
There have been, after all, larger fish to fry than to coax shape out of a prodigious skill in the ones ultimate months of the season, however it’s exhausting to flee the sensation that he was once exhausting finished by way of.
A larger position forward?
Probably the most primary criticisms of Jones is that he has struggled to translate the game-changing high quality he confirmed week in, week out at academy degree to the first-team level.
However it’s a completely other position that he’s appearing beneath Klopp; one a long way got rid of from the shackle-free attacking accountability he loved with the under-23s.
His is a practical process within the engine room – taking over ownership, progressing thru midfield and handing it off – with the second-highest passing accuracy of any Liverpool participant remaining season (90.4%).
That has observed his place turn into undervalued by way of many onlookers, as was once steadily the case together with his successor, Wijnaldum.
As Liverpool apparently get ready to move into the brand new marketing campaign with out bringing in a brand new midfielder, on the other hand, there’s scope for Jones to soak up that mantle as a extra modern outlet.
There’s fierce festival for his spot, after all, no longer least with Fabio Carvalho becoming a member of Elliott and Tyler Morton some of the younger choices to be had to Klopp.
However a proposed shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the signing of Darwin Nunez to spearhead the assault, may just take the reins off to an extent for Jones, who already flexed his versatility with stints out vast remaining season.
Klopp could also be his largest recommend – again and again insisting the teen remains at Anfield moderately than head out on mortgage, regardless of gives from golf equipment with as prime a profile as RB Leipzig, who presented a two-year keep – however he’s additionally vocal in not easy extra.
Certainly not must the brand new marketing campaign be observed as make-or-break for Jones, nevertheless it gifts a key alternative to end up he could be a long-term starter for Liverpool.
Very best second: 4 assists in a celebrity flip vs. Porto
Worst second: Freak coaching harm and 12 video games out
Position subsequent season: Common choice in midfield, difficult for begins