Curtis Jones looks like the first natural leader to come through at Liverpool since Steven Gerrard. It’s been a long time coming.
Jones once again looked excellent on Tuesday as Liverpool knocked Shrewsbury Town out of the FA Cup. It took an own goal but the youngest Reds side in history controlled the game from the off.
Liverpool dominated the ball, pressed excellently and looked just like a Jurgen Klopp side. That’s about as high a compliment as it gets right now.
And this was a side led by Jones. The 19-year-old captained Liverpool and in doing so, became the youngest to ever wear the club’s armband.
You could easily see why Neil Critchley chose him, too. Jones carries that aura about him that few do, where he permanently looks confident and in control.
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Nothing seems to faze him and he already looks as though he’s been at the senior level for years. The way he will hold onto the ball and the things he tries suggest he’s ten years older than he is.
But while that does somewhat suggest ‘leader’ there was even more from Jones.
Players actively look to get him the ball and to make things happen. He’s happy to do so. Even just in the last few minutes of the game when the Reds wanted to keep it in the corner, Jones made sure he was there every time to do that.
And when it comes to making things happen, Jones have proven himself already. His goal against Everton, after all, will be remembered forever.
These are all traits Liverpool have lacked from the academy since Steven Gerrard came through. There have been talented youngsters, sure, but no players who naturally looked like a leader.
Trent Alexander-Arnold grew into that role through performances but certainly didn’t look like one from the start.
Jones may never be ‘the next Gerrard’ like some will inevitably label him. But in terms of leadership, he’s as close as we’ve seen.