Liverpool’s academy is littered with world-class graduates – Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Alexander-Arnold...
Curtis Jones could be the next one to step into the spotlight.
The 19-year-old Scouser is born and bred in Liverpool and has been with the club for 10 years now. He has broken into the first-team this season, progressing from his club debut to his first Premier League start against Burnley, where he made the fourth-highest number of passes and the joint-most into the final third, despite being substituted in the 69th minute.
After Jones signed a new long-term contract earlier this month, Jurgen Klopp said he “could not be more proud” of his Jones' development and hailed him as a “really important member” of the Reds' squad.
Such praise from the German is perhaps an insight into the role Jones could play next season as Liverpool look to retain the Premier League title and return to prominence in the Champions League.
The No. 48 has featured twice in the league since the restart, scoring off the bench against Aston Villa before playing from the start in the 1-1 draw against Burnley the following week.
His 0.34 expected goals (xG) from three attempts was second highest for the Reds with that and his five touches inside the Burnley box – a team high outside of the front three – indicative of the positions he was taking up and his urgency to get forward.
It was a display of maturity and high quality, and most impressive for Klopp and his staff was that he was active in defensive scenarios and more than held his own physically.
That performance came six days after he netted a first Premier League goal against Villa, scoring in just five minutes off the bench. Again he was astute defensively, with one interception and two recoveries in that short period of time with the Reds leading 1-0 when he came on.
Klopp has highlighted in recent weeks that where solutions to bolstering the Liverpool squad can be found internally, they will be preferred in order to save money.
The Reds will have some loan players returning to the club with a point to prove, but the youth integrated already this season will also be primed for increased roles. Alongside Jones, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams have made their league debuts and look to have a long future in red.
Jones offers versatility in that he can play as a No. 8 or No. 10 in central midfield, but is also adept at cutting inside from the left wing. His creativity and willingness to go forward with the ball is something many believe to be missing from the Reds’ midfield ranks.
While his stats are heavily skewed by his minute sample size, Jones does have the highest xG90 in the Liverpool squad, as well as xGBuildUp90 and xGChain90.
To put into perspective, his one goal is equal with Naby Keita’s tally as a player in the same position, and just two shy of Divock Origi’s total – Jones has played almost 500 minutes less than both of them.
The early signs of a technically gifted, intelligent and hard-working footballer are justifiably cause for excitement around Anfield, and with Klopp and his coaching staff moulding many players’ development at Melwood so far, Jones’ trajectory leads to progressively more first-team minutes.
And there are of course plenty of areas for Jones to improve. He is yet to play a key pass in his league action and hasn’t scratched the surface of expected assists (xA) thus far.
Jones will enter this off-season for the first time as a proper first-team player, and can expect league minutes from the very start of the next campaign. The quick turnaround between seasons, the likelihood of a quiet transfer window and the continuation of the five substitutes rule will all play perfectly into Jones’ hands.
More minutes can only translate to greater development, and that means good things for Liverpool. Jones has serious, undeniable talent matched with a terrific attitude, and next season could be just the springboard for him to reach greater heights.