The worst kept secret for Liverpool FC over the last few years has been the need to revamp an aging and oft injured midfield. Curtis Jones has been much maligned in that same time as he has struggled to stay fit and was passed in the pecking order by his younger compatriot Harvey Elliot.
There have been moments of brilliance such as his match winning golazo to dispatch Everton from the 2020 FA Cup as an 18 year old. The Anfield faithful are so eager to connect with one of their own and a true scouser in the side has always been a staple of this football club. This has heaped loads of pressure on Curtis Jones from Day one.
Legends and icons such as a Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler carried this mantle for decades. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the current scouser with the most notoriety. Jones, still only 22, which seems to be forgotten at times, has been waiting in the wings for his own rise.
This season saw Liverpool’s midfield ravaged by injuries once again as the engine room of Jurgen Klopp’s side struggled to maintain any semblance of a rhythm. The World Cup break did nothing to aid with these troubles.
As the Reds struggled through a post-World Cup malaise that saw them slipping steadily down the table, something had to change. A clash with fellow underachievers Chelsea in early April saw Jones reinstated to the Starting XI.
While that match ended in a drab 0-0 draw, it was the beginning of the Reds turnaround and it also saw Jones have perhaps his best stretch as a Liverpool player. One of the biggest knocks on the English U-21 international was his inability to string together consistent performances.
His young career has been a series of one step forward, two steps back. But as he continued to get full shifts on a weekly basis, his confidence grew which saw his influence on the pitch enhance. His energetic running was a gift that was sorely needed. His long range vision was on display many times including a superb through ball to help finish off Leeds.
For any midfielder that wants to be taken serious as a truly special player, they need to add goals to their game. Jones brought a few more to his repertoire as he began utilizing the late bombing run into the box. His deft left footed finish against Spurs showed he possessed this ability. He doubled down on this, literally, as he bagged a brace against Leicester City.
For many at the club, the ending of the season probably came too early as the side was finally meshing. 11 straight starts in the League finally gave Liverpool fans a proper sample size of what they can expect from the young Englishman.
However, this is not meant to dissuade from the idea the club needs to still bring in multiple midfielders. Alexis MacAllister arriving from Brighton is a superb start. Being linked to names like Manu Kone, Khephren Thuram and Ryan Gravenberch would normally spell the end of Curtis Jones’ run in the first choice side.
This is no longer the case with the departures of James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There are plenty of competitions that Liverpool will be focusing on that there should be starts enough for everyone.
It was reassuring to see the arrival of Jones at the business end of the season playing crucial minutes in high pressure matches. The next step is to strengthen his game over the summer, continue adding goals and build on the solid foundation he has laid down.
If he can do that, Liverpool will have a Scouser Swiss army knife to be unleashed at their leisure. Everyone on Merseyside would love to see him take the next step. At 22, he still has time on his side. Let’s see if he really is the real deal.