Curtis Jones has enjoyed a rapid rise this season but it comes at a cost for Marko Grujic. The Serbian surely has no Liverpool future now.
We saw this coming and it’s safe to say we’ve arrived at the point where Curtis Jones, not Marko Grujic, has a first-team future at Anfield.
Jones began the season as a bit-part squad member. That’s a decent role for a 19-year-old but it doesn’t promise many games.
Really, Jones was there to fill in the gaps when numbers were low. Maybe he’d start cup games and the odd Premier League fixture.
Only, numbers have been incredibly low all season. That’s led to Jones starting five Champions League games and nine Premier League games.
That asks an interesting question. If Liverpool had known Jones would have to play that much, would they have kept Grujic?
Grujic had years of Bundesliga experience, after all, and knows first-team football. Jones didn’t – he only had a handful of unimportant games under his belt.
But there was definitely more value for Liverpool in Jones having the bit-part role over Grujic. If the latter had stuck around and barely played, his price would have plummeted.
As it is, Grujic is at FC Porto and reports in Serbia claim the player has a £26m price-tag. There is absolutely no chance he’d have commanded that fee if Liverpool had barely used him this season.
Of course, they’d have used him plenty if he’d stayed – but Liverpool weren’t to know that.
Instead, Jones had the bit-part role and he’s the one who got the big games as injuries hit Liverpool hard. The Scouser used those games, too, securing himself a first-team place.
He was so good against RB Leipzig, in fact, that Jones established himself as a serious first-team option. There’s no going back from there. That’s Jones’s spot for as long as he wants it.
But it means there is no spot for Grujic. A 20-year-old has now moved far ahead of him in the pecking order at a time when five or six were already in front of him.
Grujic has never had a place, in truth, and always looked like the odd one out. But any flicker of hope that he might one day find a place have been extinguished by Jones’ rise.