Liverpool assistant manager has heaped praise on Curtis Jones ahead of the Carabao Cup fourth-round clash against Arsenal on Thursday following the teenager’s sensational rise to prominence over the past 12 months.
It was this exact same fixture last season where Jones firmly made a name for himself among Kopites after scoring the winning penalty during the enthralling 5-5 Anfield spectacle back in September 2019.
Since that date with destiny under the Anfield lights just over a year ago, Jones has now become a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s senior set-up and has clocked up seven Premier League appearances.
Jones, 19, has been touted for greatness for some time now having starred as the cornerstone of Steven Gerrard’s U18 side before progressing to the senior set-up at Melwood in the latter stages of the 2017/18 season where the teenager made his PL debut during a goalless stalemate with Everton in April 2018.
Unlike recently crowned PFA Young Player of the Year Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jones was more of a slow-burner in terms of his rise to the first team. The West Derby midfielder took the slower route to get Klopp’s attention having burst onto the scene at 17 only to take an added one-two years to learn just what is required to cut it at the top.
Rather than a loan spell, Jones had been impressing Klopp for some times with his performances as captain of the under-23’s last season which also saw the Liverpool midfielder crowned the Premier League 2 Player of the Season for 2020.
There was more attention on the likes of Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliott in this same fixture last season as both attacking youngsters started against Arsenal last time out while Jones was left on the bench.
This is unlikely to be the case this time around with Jones now arguably Klopp’s most effective player in the domestic cup competitions.
He most recently took home the man-of-the-match award against Lincoln City during Liverpool’s 7-2 victory against the League One outfit last week.
Jones was utterly irresistible for Klopp as the spearhead of Liverpool’s midfield. He scored two stunning goals from almost identical positions and ran the show from start-to-finish.
According to WhoScored, Jones had more shots (5), dribbles (4) and won more fouls (4) than any other Liverpool player.
It’s no wonder then that his coach and Klopp’s most trusted lieutenant Lijnders has heaped further praise on a player who has been tipped as the natural successor to Adam Lallana.
Liverpool’s assistant manager detailed Jones’ incredible rise to stardom and why his own specific qualities offer something to the team that no other Reds midfielder can implement.
“He’s the type of player we really like,” Lijnders said during his Wednesday press conference. “His call-up to the U21s proves his development over the last year.
“He’s the type we like because of his courage, because of his bravery, because of his self-confidence – it’s the proper confidence and not the wrong one. Self-confidence comes with attitude, with training, with investing with only thinking about improvement points.
“He’s the type of midfielder, probably one of the most offensive midfielders we have. He has risk, young blood and if you look closely in the games, he’s one of the first ones who has this surprise movement in the box.
“He’s probably always the first one who shoots and if he keeps scoring, he can be a midfielder with real goals as well – and that’s something we really like.”
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