Liverpool may already have the replacement they need for Gini Wijnaldum. The Dutchman looks almost certain to leave after this season.
Gini Wijnaldum has an expiring contract, thus Liverpool need a replacement. That’s simple enough. The question, though, is who is it?
There’s a strange situation at the club that makes the question hard to answer, though. We don’t actually know how important Wijnaldum is.
Obviously, he’s incredibly important. But is that as a first-XI player or a squad player?
Because while Wijnaldum has played nearly every game this season, we wouldn’t have him in our best XI. That midfield would be Thiago / Fabinho / Jordan Henderson.
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But injuries have forced Fabinho and Henderson into defence. That’s left Wijnaldum to play every game, particularly through Thiago’s spell out with injury.
It means that while Liverpool do need to replace Wijnaldum, they don’t necessarily need to replace his importance this season. They should have a first-team midfield next year even after he’s gone.
Instead, the role that needs filling is that of a versatile secondary midfielder who is first in line behind the first-choice trio. And in our minds, they already have that – Curtis Jones.
We think Jones should be given an even more prominent role next season. Even one as prominent as fourth-choice in midfield. It would see him playing a lot of games at a high level but we think he’s ready.
Just take his performance against Manchester City on Sunday. For our money, he was the best player on the pitch.
He can win tackles and interceptions, while he’s fantastic as driving through midfield with the ball. Jones’ confidence leads us to believe he can dominate midfields.
Thus allowing him to step up into a bigger role could help that confidence grow and, hopefully, rapidly improve him as a player. There’s no limit to his potential if that plan comes off.
We’re already seeing his importance this season. Jones has lost one game when starting in midfield and it came against City when, again, he was the best player in Red.
In fact, the winning goals came once he left the pitch.
We still believe Liverpool should sign someone to take fill the squad. But as far as replacing Wijnaldum’s minutes and place in the pecking order, that’s got to be Jones.