The world of football can look very different for Liverpool fans when they’re on a six-game winning streak and their top four rivals appear to be stuttering. Trent Alexander-Arnold looks reborn as an inverted full-back or part of the double pivot if you wish to describe it that way as the formation change has worked wonders. For all the natural focus on the scouser in the team and Mo Salah breaking records all over the shop, there’s another player that’s really come to the fore over the last month or so and has changed many Reds’ thinking. Along with another youngster, they may change a few people’s thinking on possible midfielder options for next campaign too.
Even though Trent and Mo Salah have been the real stars of the show in the recent games, then the form of Curtis Jones certainly shouldn’t be marginalised. In the new system, the Toxteth-born youngster looks to have finally found his rightful place on the the left having alternated between the midfield and attack in the 4-3-3. The 22 year-old has shown his ability to counter-press, retain possession in difficult situations and provide an energy to Jurgen Klopp’s side that’s been sadly lacking for most of the campaign. Despite the current injury issues in midfield, Jones is certainly one of the first names on the team-sheet right now.
His revival comes against the backdrop of what’s been a difficult season for Jurgen Klopp’s engine room. Since the opening day of the season against Fulham, the established seniors such as Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago have struggled due to a number of factors such as injury and a reputed lack of ‘legs’, as age may finally have crept up on them. With the likes of Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain and now James Milner seeming certain to depart, Jones development couldn’t have been better timed as potentially the most important transfer window of Klopp’s time at Anfield seems set to begin.
As well as Jones, the evolution of Stefan Bajcetic shouldn’t be forgotten too. The Spanish youngster has broken through into the first-team ranks and as Liverpool struggled at the turn of the year, the former Vigo youngster was one of the few bright spots. Indeed with Fabinho especially waining, Bajcetic saw his performances as the starting number six rewarded with an improved wage and contract that runs until 2027. With suggestions that Jurgen Klopp favours the likes of Alexis Mac Allister and Mason Mount as his primary targets, it may well be that the January player of the month is who he sees as his alternate option.
There are still question marks against both in terms of consistency and availability. Whilst Bajcetic did shine, it was a bright but brief period as he was ruled out for the season in March with a ‘stress response’ around his abductor. Jones too has suffered an injury nightmare as Klopp coined it the other week and at one stage there was a suspicion a temporary or permanent switch elsewhere maybe beneficial. Whilst that question has been answered emphatically, neither has yet proven their availability over the full course of a campaign and the natural change of consistency that’s levelled against younger players.
That’s being said, whoever does come through the doors of the AXA centre will join both players as serious options for Liverpool’s midfield next season. Whilst neither may start for certain reds in the biggest games, they’re both now more than simply ‘squad fillers’ and their ability to counter-press maybe their route as the manager has confirmed. There’s plenty of work to do on Liverpool’s midfield this summer and the debate will rage about who and how many until the summer window closes. However, there’s more than a few real options already in place for Jurgen Klopp to work with. In a difficult campaign, there’s still a few positives to draw.