Curtis Jones will be the defining player in any pursuit of Renato Sanches. Liverpool reportedly want the Portuguese talent.
Can Curtis Jones and Renato Sanches play together? That could well be a question we’re asking ourselves before long.
We don’t yet know if the two are accurate but with Gini Wijnaldum’s contract expiring, it’s easy to believe that Liverpool are considering a new midfielder.
And with Sanches comes that question we posed – can he play with Jones?
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Sanches is a player who wants the ball. For a fine example of that, we can turn to Lille’s best performance of the season.
They smashed AC Milan 3-0 away from home. That’s no mean feat, given the Rossoneri are top of Serie A and this is their only defeat of the season.
Now, the star of the show was undoubtedly Yusuf Yazici. He bagged a hat-trick, after all. But Lille played through Sanches.
He saw more of the ball than anyone for Lille – by far. He had the most touches of any player on his team but that tells only half the story.
Sanches had 67 touches. That’s 20 more than any other midfielder or attacker and he went off on 80 minutes.
So, as we can plainly see, Lille played through Sanches. He dominated the ball in advanced positions and got them going.
Does that mesh with Liverpool, though? When everyone is fit, Thiago will want the ball in midfield as he’s one of the world’s best playmakers.
The easy argument there is that 23-year-old Sanches is for the era after Thiago (29). Which is fair.
But then the question becomes, can Sanches play with Jones?
Jones is a player who is quickly becoming a first-team star. He’s playing wonderfully, with energy and confidence. He also loves having the ball.
We wonder if the two can play together, then. They both want to do the same thing, after all, in picking up the ball and driving forward with it.
If there is any worry at all, Liverpool should not sign Sanches. He’s a risk as it is, given he’s flopped at both an elite club in Bayern Munich and a Premier League club in Swansea City.
But believing he may not click with Jones only increases that risk. You don’t want to sign a player and then prevent him from doing what he’s good at. Why sign him at all at that point?
The flip-side, though, is that if Jones and Sanches could click together, Liverpool would have a midfield that is incredibly difficult to handle. Two ball-dominant players who can run through you.
There’s undoubtedly enormous potential there – if it clicks.
Jones will be a first-team fixture before long. Thus any young midfielder must be able to play with him in order to work. Jones, then, is the player who could make-or-break any plans for Sanches.