Curtis Jones is a fantastic example of a young player who has seamlessly fit into a top side and brought something different and unique at the same time.

He isn’t perceived as less talented or out of his depth compared to more senior options.

That’s the biggest compliment you can give the young Liverpool starlet.

He is the ultimate chameleon, adapting to his surroundings, camouflaging into a complex and clockwork like midfield system, seemingly going unnoticed whilst simultaneously having a major impact.

Academy Prodigy

Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports in 2018 he received a message from Steven Gerrard who was managing Liverpool’s U18’s at the time. He said out of the players Gerrard was working with, Curtis Jones had a really good chance to make the first team.

Gerrard said at the time: “This team is built around him. He’s a top talent and he’s a top player.”

Fast forward into 2021, and that same “top talent” Curtis Jones has just dispatched Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cutback to put Liverpool ahead against Sheffield United in the Premier League.

So far the Croxteth starlet has four goals and four assists in all competitions from 29 games with notable strikes against Sheffield United and Ajax.


To put into context Jones’s talent is important to view where he has come from.

Liverpool’s academy, for all its glorious reputation has faltered in the last decade or so.

Since 2011 notable players to make first team appearances include: Andre Wisdom, Brad Smith, Jack Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Jordon Ibe, Raheem Sterling, Suso, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn, Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Curtis Jones.

Some players have carved out good lower league careers, some remain unproven, some have ventured abroad whilst few have thrived.

Of that list, only Sterling has developed into a world class player away from Anfield, and only Trent Alexander-Arnold has carved himself into a world class player in that same time.

To put that into perspective, Liverpool’s Academy since 2010 have produced 74 players who have either played a professional game for Liverpool or have ‘established’ themselves elsewhere.

Of those 74, only Alexander-Arnold has established himself into the side as a first team regular for Liverpool. That is around 1.35% of the academy players on that list.

Jones, who looks to second that, would bump the figure to 2.7%.

In essence what those numbers tell you is that to play for Liverpool from the academy you have to be exceptionally talented.

You cannot just be exceptionally talented though, you have to possess the attitude to learn, develop, and have a pinch of luck on the way.

Roles, Traits & Comparison

Jones’s style has changed drastically since his academy days playing under Steven Gerrard.

This transition as an adaptable hybrid like midfield player, a perfect combination of number 10 and 8 styles has provided real drive and dynamism to a midfield that has lacked variety this season.

Under Gerrard previously, the Croxteth local honed his skills as a number 10. A ball playing attacking midfielder, Jones would often supply goals and assists playing off the front man.

But Under Jurgen Klopp that had to change. Since the days when Phillipe Coutinho left for Barcelona, Liverpool have operated with a false 9, and have only flirted with the idea of a natural number 10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

I touched on luck earlier and it is a vital element.

There is no doubt that if Liverpool hadn’t sustained the injuries they had in defence, that Jones minutes would have been restricted by Captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.

But an unprecedented injury crisis to key defenders and midfield men has given Jones the chance to flourish.

And flourish is what he has done.

Predominately under Jurgen Klopp he has operated on either side of the midfield three, tasked with getting forward and supporting the front line as well as being calm in possession, recycling the ball and applying the press.

Not many players can do what is asked of them immediately by a coach, particularly one whereby the system has been so perfect and rigorous over the last couple of years.

An example to show how Jones has slotted in so well is to compare him to what Jurgen Klopp requires of his midfield in a season where success was achieved.

Gini Wijnaldum, an ever present, and someone tasked with a similar role for Liverpool as Jones has had is someone with a similar background coming from a more advanced position further back.

Compared to Gini Wijnaldum in 2019/20, a season whereby the Dutchman was such a quintessential part of such the successful team, Jones has the edge in certain departments.

Jones is more creative at 0.9 chances per game to Wijnaldum’s 0.7, and attempts significantly more passes at 74 than Wijnaldum’s 50 per match. Moreover, Jones plays forward passes 16 times a game compared to Wijnaldum’s 10 (via Squawka).

It isn’t just in the attacking elements where his natural flair and pre-exposure to the number 10 role can shine. Per 90 minutes, Jones actually completes more tackles than 2019/20 Wijnaldum with 1.4 to 1.2 and makes twice as many interceptions per game.

Statistics can be deceiving at times, but what this shows is Jones possess a real ability to recycle the ball, be proactive and probing with his passing and all together offer a more creative outlet from the Liverpool midfield whilst simultaneously possessing the defensive nuances to defend in key moments.

Essentially, Jones at aged 20, is performing as well as Wijnaldum did in a season whereby Liverpool won the league and shattered records seemingly every week.


“There is a lot to come from Curtis. The potential is exceptional” is a recent quote from Jurgen Klopp on the Liverpudlian midfielder.

You can’t help but agree.

Just for Jones to have made it this far is a feat in itself, but to prosper at a level whereby he is unrecognisable from other far more senior and successful midfield players is a credit to his talent.

The challenge for Jones, for as long as Klopp uses a 4-3-3 system, is to establish an equilibrium between creative dynamic and defensive stability. The signs are encouraging.

If he is able to do so, he will be a permanent fixture in Liverpool’s midfield for years to come.