Whenever Liverpool have a local player come through their academy that operates in the center of midfield, expectations are always going to be high. However, such hopes can often apply unnecessary pressure to unproven talents. Like those before him, such as Jordan Rossiter, Curtis Jones is being dubbed as the next Steven Gerrard. That said, unlike the former Reds captain, first-team opportunities may be more challenging to come by. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 19-year-old’s prospects of breaking into Jurgen Klopp’s starting side.
A Squad Packed with Midfield Competition
Regardless of the talent that the Liverpool-born midfielder has, the most significant stumbling block that he is faced with concerns the sheer volume of options that are available to the Reds’ German manager. Although Adam Lallana looks set to be let go come the expiration of his contract this summer, there is still fierce competition for places. As well as the club’s Champions League-winning captain, Jordan Henderson, Jones also faces the task of needing to displace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Georginio WIjnaldum, James Milner and Naby Keita.
However, despite the experience of his teammates, Jones’ progression couldn’t arguably be taking place under a more suitable manager. Although becoming a first-team regular in the imminent future may appear problematic, the 19-year-old can take solace in the rapid rise of Trent Alexander-Arnold. Upon being given the opportunity back in 2017 during the absence of Nathaniel Clyne through injury, the 2019 Ballon d’Or nominee has since made the right-back position his own.
Much like Alexander-Arnold did, Jones has continued to rise to the occasion upon being selected. Despite only starting five games for the Reds thus far in the 2019-20 season, the midfielder has twice found the net, including a memorable long-range winner against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup back in January. Following his famous Merseyside Dery goal, Klopp declared that Jones will “100 percent be a Liverpool player” in the coming years.
His Need for First-Team Opportunities and Being an Unpredictable Option
Given the Reds’ healthy lead at the top of the Premier League, Klopp is no longer faced with having to resist the temptation to rest his star players as he was earlier in the season against Bournemouth. Because of this, it gives hope to the likes of Jones, along with Harvey Eliott, Ki-Jana Hoever, and Neco Williams, that first-team opportunities may be headed their way between now and the conclusion of the campaign.
At the time of writing, the 19-year-old midfielder has played just 19 minutes of top-flight football and will be keen to get more under his belt as Liverpool close in on their 19th league championship. Over the last few years, increasing numbers of up-and-coming players have thrived having been trusted with heightened first-team opportunities for their respective teams. For example, Bukaya Saka and Mason Greenwood have both caught the eye upon being utilised by Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunner Solskjaer.
Crucially, as touched upon above, Klopp is no stranger to giving youth prospects an opportunity, but only when they’re ready. Moreover, given the world-class expectations that many now have for Jones, it’s sensible that the manager of the six-time champions of Europe handles the Liverpool-born playmaker’s progression in a careful manner.
That said, the six-foot midfielder could prove to be an unpredictable option going forward for Klopp. Given his immense versatility that enables him to play from the left flank, he could be used in rotation with Sadio Mane in an effort to maximise player fitness. Moreover, his emergence could also present fantasy football players with a low-budget squad option as players look to find value wherever possible; fantasy football is a game that is increasingly becoming popular in Europe as well as across the Atlantic, with some sites offering betting services in conjunction with that. Crucially, given that some of the best daily sites provide Premier League opportunities, Jones could prove to be an intriguing selection among prospective players.
Jones Has the Ability, Now He Needs to be Patient
Ultimately, there are no doubts that Jones will eventually be given a sustained run in the first-team at some point during Klopp’s tenure. Until then, however, the 19-year-old midfielder will need to be patient. That said, if the Reds do happen to wrap up the title soon after the resumption of the league, then it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that Klopp experiments with Jones in the team.