Curtis Jones: From Doubt to Key Player at Liverpool
Curtis Jones: The Journey So Far
Early Doubts and Criticism
It wasn’t long ago that there were genuine doubts over Curtis Jones’ future as a Liverpool player. While some of the criticism coming his way was indicative of the impatient modern fan who wants shiny new signings instead of homegrown talent coming through, it was still fair to wonder what the future held for him.
Struggles and Potential Unfulfilled
There were times before the latter stages of last season when Jones felt like a player threatening to not reach his potential, often finding himself out of the team through injury or not affecting games enough when he did play. Some felt he held onto the ball for too long, while others saw a lack of maturity and dependability too often. He felt like a step down from Liverpool’s other midfielders, even at a time when the likes of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson were starting to flag.
Remarkable Transformation and Impact
What we have seen from Jones over the past 12 months or so has been heartwarming, however, with the 22-year-old making himself not only a key squad player but now surely a definite starter if the Reds faced a huge game tomorrow. It all started in the latter months of last season, when the Scouser emerged as one of the few bright sparks from a dire campaign, scoring three goals in April and May combined.
Rise to Prominence This Season
This season, the boyhood Liverpool fan has gone up another gear, so much so that there is a genuine argument to say that he is the Reds’ most important midfielder on current form. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai are fantastic in their own right, and have higher ceilings, but they have been in and out of the team lately. Put simply, Jurgen Klopp’s side invariably feel like a better team when Jones is heavily involved.
Key Performances and Attributes
Sunday’s well-taken header against Norwich in the FA Cup was his fifth goal of an excellent campaign, already making it the most prolific of his senior career, and he is doing his version of the Gini Wijnaldum role superbly. Jones isn’t always spectacular, far from it, but his ability to retain possession in tight spaces is highlighted by an eye-opening pass completion rate of 92% across 13 Premier League appearances this season.
Continued Growth and Future Prospects
Moving forward, he can still improve further, not least in terms of trying to avoid regular spells out of the team through injury, and his all-round game should only become more polished with age. Let’s not kid ourselves that Steven Gerrard was the all-conquering force that he became when he was 22 – he was famously substituted after a dire performance away to Basel in the Champions League during a poor run of form at that age – and Jones should still be treated as a young player learning his trade.
Overcoming Criticism and Evolving
It was only 12 months ago that a section of the Liverpool fanbase had lost faith in Jones – certain social media trolls actively disliked him, which was far more their problem than his! – but he has answered his critics admirably, maturing greatly and now looking the real deal. He has also tweaked his game so much from his academy days, trading flair for a more disciplined style, and that outlines the footballing intelligence that he possesses.
Future Outlook and Legacy
There may be speed bumps along the way, as is the case with any footballer, but assuming Jones’ fitness issues ease up and don’t stunt his progress, a long and productive Reds career awaits him. Will he ever be Gerrard? It’s highly doubtful. But what’s wrong with just being a really good player for your childhood team?