Paul Scholes has claimed that Curtis Jones has ‘really suffered’ ever since Thiago Alcantara was reintegrated back into the team at the back-end of last year.
Thiago, who was Jurgen Klopp’s marquee summer signing following his £20 million [BBC] move from Bayern Munich, has endured a topsy-turvy start to his Anfield career so far, with mitigating circumstances such as injuries and COVID restricting the Spaniard from kick-starting his Liverpool tenure.
However, since his return from a long-term knee injury on December 30, Thiago has been a mainstay in the Reds’ starting contingent, clocking up 14 consecutive appearances for the English champions.
With everyone available and at Klopp’s disposal, the two-time Champions League-winning midfielder is arguably part of the manager’s preferred midfield triumvirate, alongside Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
Still, one player who has shone in the absence of the aforementioned midfield duo this season has been academy graduate, Curtis Jones.
The 20-year-old has clocked up 29 first-team appearances this season, after all, and was on the scoresheet during Liverpool’s most recent win against Sheffield United on Sunday.
Scholes on Jones
But former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has questioned whether the influence of Thiago has hindered the West-Derby midfielder’s progress in recent weeks.
“I have always liked this lad,” said Scholes, per Premier League Productions (28/02/21). “I think he’s a really good footballer.
“I think he’s the one that really suffered with Thiago coming back into the team in January. I actually did a Wolves game and he was brilliant.
“He does need to add more goals to his game but you can see he’s definitely going to be capable of doing that.
“If he can stay in the team, keep fit then, at this level, he will score a lot of goals and create a lot of goals.”
What RTK has to say
We’re struggling to agree with Scholes on this particular instant. Perhaps the usage of ‘suffering’ is a bit strong given that Jones’ place in the team was taken up by one of the greatest serial winners in modern times.
Still, Scholes is right to highlight that game-time has dried for Jones as a result of Thiago’s return from injury – that’s just part-and-parcel of representing the English champions.
In fact, Jones has started just four PL matches since Thiago came on as a second-half substitute in the goalless stalemate against Newcastle.
But, this hasn’t been a hinderance on Jones’ progress either, just a reality of the competition for places amongst Klopp’s world-class array of all-stars.
If someone would have told Jones he would clock up more than 30 appearances in 2020/21 at the beginning of the campaign, he would probably have bitten your hand off.
So, while Jones may be utilised less frequency as a result of more senior figures returning from injury, he certainly isn’t passing down the opportunities when they are presented in front of him.
There is no doubt that his progress this term has been one of the standout stories of the 2020/21 campaign.