Liverpool's Jones following Greenwood, Foden and Saka as Premier League breakout star
As weekends go, it certainly wasn’t a bad one.
A new five-year contract on the Saturday , a first Premier League goal 24 hours later.
The rise of Curtis Jones continues.
It hasbeen some season for the Liverpool youngster, who at 19 is already showing an impressive ability to produce box office moments in professional football.
Need a recap? So far this season, Jones has been named Man of the Match in only his second senior start, netted the decisive penalty in a Carabao Cup shootout against Arsenal and made his league debut off the bench at Bournemouth.
He has scored the winning goal in a Merseyside derby , netted in the FA Cup at Shrewsbury and then, in the replay, become the youngest captain in Liverpool’s 128-year history. Then, on Sunday, came the strike which killed off Aston Villa in front of the Kop.
In total, he hasmade nine appearances this season, and produced memorable, game-changing contributions in at least six of them.
Not bad for any player, let alone a teenager.
It isa good time to be a young, gifted Englishman in the Premier League, isn’t it? Trent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford are well on their way to superstardom, Mason Greenwood is banging them in at Manchester United , Phil Foden looks a star in the making at Manchester City and Arsenal have done very well to tie Bukayo Saka down to a long-term contract .
Over at Chelsea, the likes of Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount continue to impress, while Anthony Gordon (Everton), Max Aarons (Norwich) and Tariq Lamptey (Brighton) have all made big strides this season too.
For Gareth Southgate, the future looks very bright indeed.
Jones, certainly, can be a part of that future. Precociously-gifted, but with physicality beyond his years, the young Scouser has already been capped by England at Under-17, U18 and U19 level.
He has played alongside Greenwood with the U17s and Saka with the U19s. It would be no surprise if he were to move up to the U21s when international football eventually returns. His potential is immense.
Jurgen Klopp is certainly a fan. “We will have a lot of fun with him in the future,” he said at the weekend. Jones’ progress, particularly over the last 12 months, has staff at Anfield very excited.
He joined the Reds at the age of eight, and has long been earmarked as a potential first-teamer. He made his U18s debut aged just 15, was on the bench for the senior team at Everton three months after his 17thbirthday, and has been a permanent fixture at Melwood throughout the last two seasons.
He hashad to learn quickly, of course. He hasnever lacked confidence, that’s for sure, but even at U23 level there were concerns over his consistency and willingness to influence games with goals and assists. A "full and frank" meeting with former coach Neil Critchley in 2019 left him in no doubt as to the improvements needed if he was to fulfil his potential.
He has needed the guidance, and often the sharp tongue, of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana since moving into the senior set-up. Earning Milner’s respect, in particular, counts as one of his most significant achievements. It isfair to say the veteran midfielder took some convincing.
“I’ve seen a massive difference in Curtis in the last year,” Milner said back in September. “He’s always had that ability but he seems a bit more mature now. He’s got great ability.”
Jones signed a five-year deal last August, but was assured that he would be rewarded if he continued to progress. Liverpool’s policy with young players is to incentivise, to encourage hunger and improvement. With Jones, just as with Alexander-Arnold before him, they were as good as their word.
The youngster had no interest in going out on loan – a number of Championship and League One clubs expressed an interest in the winter – insisting he wanted to stay in Klopp’s eyeline at Melwood. Competing with the likes of Milner, Lallana, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainandTakumi Minamino does notfaze him. If anything, it inspires him.
He hasalready ticked plentyof boxes this season. How long, one wonders, before the next one – a Premier League start, perhaps?
Klopp’s side head to Brighton on Wednesday night looking to maintain, or perhaps extend, their mammoth lead at the top of the Premier League, and to continue their pursuit of a record-breaking top-flight points total. Jones, after that impressive cameo against Villa, will hope to be involved again at the Amex Stadium.
“I love a challenge,” he said after inking his new contract. “I'm battling every day to try and get in the team or be on the bench or be around the squad.
“Every opportunity that I get I'll definitely be taking it with both hands and giving it the best shot that I've got.”
So far so good, in that respect.
Source : goal.com
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