Curtis Jones offers no easy way back for Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Scouser is a breakout star.
Another game, another hugely promising performance from Curtis Jones. The 20-year-old is firmly a first-team player here and is exactly what Liverpool needed.
Jones can do all the high-pressing defensive work – he’s 24th in the Premier League for tackles in the attacking third. He’s intelligent in covering a full-back, too. Those are, really, the two absolute must-haves from a Liverpool midfielder.
But he can also drive forward with the ball at an elite level. Of players with at least 900 minutes in the Premier League, only five players carry the ball more per 90 minutes.
Only eight carry it into the final third more often. Only Kevin De Bruyne and Thiago do it more as purely central players.
As for progressive carries – driving with the ball at least five yards closer to the opposition goal – Jones is fourth in the Premier League. The only players to do it more are Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Adama Traore.
Jones is eight in the Premier League for passing into the final third, too. And he can score goals! He’s a dream.
So looking at all of that, how do Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain get back ahead of Jones? He’s effectively doing their job better than them.
Neither has been so consistently good at this much in a Liverpool shirt. Neither can stay fit, to that end, nor do they have age on their side.
Jones is 20, after all – he’s only getting better every week. The long-term and short-term interest is in keeping Jones in the team.
Each will have first-team aspirations, certainly. But with Jones performing as he is, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to deliver something pretty special to consistently get in the side.
And even then, Jones is perfectly capable of matching it.