A big change in Liverpool’s system can unlock the potential in Curtis Jones. The 20-year-old has a lot of it.
Jurgen Klopp bit the bullet and made the change we all wanted to see – Fabinho back into midfield. It wasn’t without risk, of course.
It meant going into a Champions League knockout fixture with Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak as Liverpool’s centre-halves. Two players with very little experience at the elite level.
Fortunately, they were up to the task because putting the Brazilian back where he belongs felt like a seismic change. The midfield, in particular, was the best it’s been for months.
Thiago was the standout. Having Fabinho as a base allowed him to focus on finding space and moving forward, rather than worrying about shielding the defence and stopping counter-attacks.
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And that gets us thinking – this could be the secret to unlocking the potential in Curtis Jones.
We all see it, of course. Jurgen Klopp certainly does, too. He recently labelled Jones as a player of ‘exceptional potential‘.
The Scouser has shone since early December, taking advantage of his opportunities in the team to show what he can do. Jones has frequently looked like the best player on the pitch, despite his relative inexperience.
We don’t know how far he can go but the potential is there for Liverpool to develop a key player. They just need to find a way to kick him on further.
We’ve said before that Fabinho could be the key. We felt using the Brazilian as a base would benefit both Thiago and Jones, in fact.
Well, the performance against Leipzig showed that’s true for Thiago. We think it could be even more so for Jones.
Relinquishing him of further defensive duties and allowing him to focus more on attacking the opposition box suits him. It’s a level of freedom he hasn’t really had yet and if Klopp starts him with Fabinho, we think it will get the best out of Jones.
We’ve seen how handing him opportunities can lead to rapid development and this could be the next step. Jones is the most exciting attacking midfielder at the club – Fabinho can allow Liverpool to hone that.
He’s the base in midfield that covers Jones’s runs and the one who allows the 20-year-old to stay high up the field. In other words, partnering him with Fabinho allows him to do what he does best.
No more worrying about covering the defence and no more needing to hold back because of a weak midfield.
After seeing what the change did for Thiago, we can’t wait to see Jones slot in alongside the Brazilian.