The 5th of January 2020 was the day Curtis Jones introduced himself to football fans across the globe. That sensational curling effort against Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup third-round firmly printed his name on newspapers and media articles for all to see, but those closer to home will have known about his talents long before that. LFC Transfer Room writer Shaun Bowden (@Shaun_Bowden) takes a look at the young prospect, and what the future may hold for him in the 2020/21 season.
Liverpool have been blessed with an abundance of promising young stars in recent years, from Harry Wilson to Ben Woodburn and Rhian Brewster, yet it is only right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold who has really managed to confidently make the step-up to first team action, making the position his own to now be considered one of the best, if not the best in the world. The last time we saw a Scouse youngster burst onto the scene to this degree was when Steven Gerrard broke through the ranks some 22 years ago. Perhaps, however, we won’t have to wait so long for the next one.
Liverpool-born midfielder Curtis Jones, now aged 19 having been at the club since the age of nine, is certainly one that Jurgen Klopp will be considering as an integral part of the well-oiled machine that the Reds have become over the past few seasons. Despite being limited to just two Premier League appearances in 2019/20, Jones has still caught the eye of fans and pundits with his stellar performances in his domestic cup appearances, particularly shining brightly in that aforementioned 1-0 victory over Everton. A beautifully-placed goal against Shrewsbury and a man of the match performance away to MK Dons have also helped to establish Jones amongst the most promising youngsters at the club. Now add these senior performances to his return for Liverpool’s U23’s this season – nine goals and five assists in 14 appearances in the Premier League 2, five goals and one assist in the UEFA Youth League including a stunning hat-trick against Napoli, and a number of man of the match awards along the way – Jones is truly one to watch.
The kid seems to have every attribute needed to succeed in the heart of the midfield; Tenacious runs, prolific finishing, a true football brain and a book of skills that Bobby Firmino would be proud of. Throw in some pure Scouse passion and a dash of arrogance and you’ve cooked up an absolute wizard of a midfielder. That doesn’t mean he lacks versatility, however. We’ve seen him deployed in a number of offensive positions by Jurgen Klopp, as well as former U23 boss Neil Critchley, over the course of the season, proving his ability across he field and firmly putting his name into the conversation for a place in the matchday squad. Jones, in fact, is the true embodiment of the half-space roamer, dragging defenders out of position, getting in behind the back-line as well as coming close to receive possession, and he does it all with confidence.
The versatility Jones possesses is the name of the game for Jurgen Klopp. We’ve seen Klopp bring in Takumi Minamino to offer more versatility to the front line, with James Milner proving how essential it is to be able to adapt in this sensational Liverpool side – and this is exactly why the 2020/21 season, whenever that may be, could be the breakout year for Curtis Jones.
Us Liverpool fans love a transfer rumour, and despite current circumstances and the uncertainty of the future of the summer transfer window, we’re seeing consistent links with players such as Timo Werner and Kalidou Koulibaly. If it isn’t Werner, its Sancho or Mbappe, and if it isn’t Koulibaly, its Diego Carlos of Sevilla. The point is, we’re being bombarded with rumours of potential targets, and yet there remains a lack of news surrounding potential midfield arrivals. At a real stretch, it could be argued that midfield is our ‘weakest’ position (how weak can the midfield of the European Champions be though, really?), yet there are very few rumours of incomings in that area. I personally believe that a key reason for that is because there’s a young, Scouse lad waiting in the wings, ready to be let loose.
Whatever the conditions of football’s return, it looks highly doubtful that European clubs will be able to embark on pre-season tours and warm-up fixtures, and so once the 2020/21 campaign gets underway, it seems certain that rotation of matchday squads in domestic and European competition will be the norm for a while. This will give Jones plenty of chances to prove his worth to this team on the biggest stage, and who knows, perhaps he’ll come out of it as a key fixture in our starting XI?
His link-up play co-operation means he’ll fit in to Klopp’s Liverpool philosophy with ease. The boy’s raw talent is up there with any player we’ve seen come out of Kirby for a long, long time, and with the right nurturing from Jurgen Klopp and co, he could become a real star. It’s truly exciting how good he could become.
The Premier League isn’t ready.